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Wen Calls for More Efforts to Save Energy, Cut Pollution

Premier Wen Jiabao has urged more curbs on industries that consume more energy and release more pollutants in a bid to ensure a healthy and fast economic growth.


Wen said that the economy could hardly be sustainable if China failed to adjust the economic structure, transform the (extensive) growth mode, and reduce energy consumption.


"We are left with no choice but to develop in an economical, clean and safe way," the premier said in a speech addressed to the national working teleconference on energy saving and pollutants reduction late April.


A copy of the full speech was made available to Xinhua Monday.


Wen noted the nation will tighten land use and credit supply and set stricter market access and environmental standards for new projects amid efforts to rein in the rapid expansion of energy-gorging industries including power, steel, oil refinery, chemicals, construction materials, and metals.


The premier said the six sectors that consume 70 percent of energy for industry and release the same percentage of sulfur dioxide grew 20.6 percent in the first quarter, 6.6 percentage points higher than the same period last year.


"We will continue to curb the energy-guzzlers by further adjusting exports rebates, levying more exports tariff, and reducing exports quotas," he said.


Wen said China will cancel preferential policies on the industries like lower tax, electricity and land costs.


"Outmoded production facilities must be eliminated at a faster pace and how this policy is implemented by local governments and companies will be open to the public and subject to social supervision," he said.


Wen added that China will push forward reforms in the pricing of natural gas, water and other resources, raise the tax levied on pollutant discharge, establish a "polluter pays" system and severely punish those who violate the environmental protection laws.


"The ten nationwide energy saving programs, such as developing oil alternatives, upgrading coal-fired boilers and saving energy indoors, will save China 240 million tons of coal equivalent during the 2006-10 period, including 50 million tons this year," he said.


He said the government will also introduce more incentives to encourage companies to use more energy efficient production facilities and techniques. "This year is crucial for China in its efforts to meet the energy saving and pollutants emission reduction target set for the 2006-10 period," said Wen.


The Chinese government has set a goal of reducing energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product by 20 percent by 2010, while pollutant discharge should drop by 10 percent.


Energy consumption, however, fell only 1.23 percent last year, well short of the annual goal of four percent.


Wen also said to meet the target is an urgent demand of global climate change and the coal-dependant China should bear the responsibility to reduce pollutant emission.


(Xinhua News Agency May 8, 2007)

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