Protection of the environment is considered so crucial by Tibet that the country has become a leader in the use of renewable energy in its part of the world. The small mountain area, annexed as an autonomous region by China, uses more solar energy than any other region under Chinese control. Indeed, many people in Degyi Township in the Nagqu prefecture commonly use solar stoves and wind turbines because there is little coal in the area, according to the Xinhua news agency in May. "Relatively speaking, the economy in Tibet lags behind, but development will not be sought at the expense of the environment," it reports. Since 1990, the regional government has stepped up the use of clean fuel, to boost jobs locally and to protect the environment.