China promises greener growth

CHINA: The Chinese government has vowed to slash the amount of carbon dioxide emissions for every unit of economic growth - its first binding target for emissions reductions.

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In a statement made ahead of last month's climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, China's State Council said that, by 2020, it will cut CO2 emitted per unit of GDP - a measure known as carbon intensity - by 40-45% from the 2005 level. The target is to be incorporated in midand long-term development plans.

Even with the great inroads made by China's wind industry, serious contributions to carbon reduction will require much effort. Many wind farms remain unconnected to the grid and Chinese wind turbine manufacturers struggle to match the technological prowess of overseas competitors. Wind and other renewables must also compete with nuclear power for policy support.

If Chinese GDP doubles by 2020, as some economists expect, the country's emissions will still rise slightly above current levels despite a 45% decline in carbon intensity. Still, the UN Environment Programme has praised China's announcement. "It underscores China's determination to ... accelerate the decoupling of CO2 emissions from economic growth," says UN environment programme spokesman Nick Nuttall.

China's target to cut carbon intensity will cost $30 billion annually over the next decade, says Yu Qingtai, who served as special representative of the foreign ministry during the Copenhagen talks. Yu says China will not seek international financial support for the effort. The National Development and Reform Committee is drafting a blueprint for low carbon growth. Ye Yanfei, deputy director of research at the China Banking Regulatory Commission, suggests China establish an emissions exchange.

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