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China Sets Only Moderate Energy Goals  03/05 06:21

   China, the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, announced generally 
moderate new energy and climate targets on Friday that give little sign that it 
will step up its pace in combatting climate change.

   BEIJING (AP) -- China, the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, 
announced generally moderate new energy and climate targets on Friday that give 
little sign that it will step up its pace in combatting climate change.

   On a smoggy day in Beijing, Premier Li Keqiang said the country will reduce 
carbon emissions per unit of economic output by 18% over the next five years. 
He was speaking at the annual meeting of the National People's Congress, 
China's ceremonial legislature, that began Friday.

   The meeting is China's highest-profile political event of the year, where 
the ruling Communist Party unveils new policies and legislation.

   The 18% target is the same as in the previous five-year economic plan. The 
country uses carbon emissions per unit of economic output, or carbon intensity, 
instead of absolute emission reduction targets.

   "We were very keen to see what the 14th five-year plan would say about how 
to actually get there, or maybe even more ambitious targets," said Dimitri de 
Boer, chief representative of ClientEarth, an environmental law charity. "What 
we've seen of the actual plan is that there is a target on reducing carbon 
intensity by 2025 but we can't tell what exactly that means in total emissions."

   In September, President Xi Jinping announced that China would aim for carbon 
neutrality by 2060, and a peak in emissions by 2030. The carbon neutrality 
announcement led many to expect there would be sharper targets.

   Government planners offered a few more specifics in a summary of the new 
five-year plan. It sets a target for non-fossil energy to account for 20% of 
total energy consumption by 2025, which will require further investment in 
solar and wind energy. It did not mention any ban on new coal projects, which 
experts say would be a significant step.

   China obtains 60% of its power from coal and is the world's biggest source 
of climate-changing industrial pollution. As a result, its carbon intensity is 
higher than any other country.

   Climate change experts say the new plan does not include indicators 
previously given by the government, such as a 5-year GDP target, which would 
set more concrete limits since carbon intensity is calculated using GDP.

   Lauri Myllyvirta, lead analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and 
Clean Air in Helsinki, said the lack of such concrete numbers could be good 
because it could offer the government more flexibility in pursuing green 
policies.

   Many are waiting to see whether the government will unveil more detailed 
regulations on carbon-intense industries such as steel and cement manufacturing 
later this year.

   Although the new target continues the same pace as the previous five-year 
plan, experts say achieving it will be harder given earlier gains.

   The country achieved a 18.6% reduction in the last five-year period.

   "It should be more challenging than in the last five years because you are 
doing better ... the marginal cost will be higher," said Zou Ji, president of 
Energy Foundation China, a charity dedicated to sustainable economic 
development.

   Whether China will pick up its pace remains to be seen.

   "This is very gradual progress at best," said Myllyvirta. "It's much more of 
continuing business as usual."




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