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. China report says coal to remain top energy source

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Dec 26, 2007
China reiterated Wednesday its long-term dependence on coal for energy, but pledged to step up efforts to burn the fuel more cleanly to reduce its impact on global warming.

In its first white paper on energy, the Chinese government also vowed to develop sustainable energy industries, and said its booming demand for fuel would not pose a threat to world energy security.

"China did not, does not and will not pose any threat to the world's energy security," said the non-binding position paper issued by the State Council, China's cabinet.

Amid global concerns that future Chinese demand for resources could lead to supply and price pressures, the nation said it would seek to rely more on domestic energy sources and was stepping up oil and gas exploration, while also developing renewable energies and improving efficiency.

According to the International Energy Agency, China's overall energy demand will grow by 3.2 percent per year between 2005 and 2030.

Coal, which currently makes up about 70 percent of the energy needs of Asia's second largest economy, is expected to continue to play a central role.

"The energy structure with coal playing the main role will remain unchanged for a long time to come," the paper said.

But "coal consumption has been the main cause of smoke pollution in China, as well as the main source of greenhouse gas ... if this situation continues, the ecological environment will face even greater pressure."

After nearly 30 years of booming economic growth, China has become the world's second largest energy producer, forcing it to seek resources elsewhere, especially crude oil in Africa and Central Asia.

Consequently, China, which considers itself a developing nation, ranks alongside the United States as the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions blamed for climate change.

It was responsible for 9.3 percent of the world's fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions from 1950 to 2006, although the nation ranked 92nd in the world in terms of per capital emissions of the gas, the white paper said.

"China will pay more attention to the clean utilisation of energy resources, especially coal, and make it a focus of environmental protection," it said.

"China aims to achieve the goal of basically curbing the trend of ecological deterioration, reducing total emissions of major pollutants by 10 percent and gain visible results in the control of greenhouse gas emissions."

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