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China on Track of Low-carbon Development

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The closing of China's Central Economic Work Conference on Monday, which coincided with the opening of the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, left a message that China was determined to pursue a path of low-carbon development.

The three-day conference, responsible for setting the tone for economic development in 2010, agreed that China would step up efforts to boost low-carbon sectors, as part of the strategy of promoting the transformation of economic development pattern.

"This demonstrates a remarkable change in China's concept of development, and would greatly help upgrade economic growth pattern and adjust economic structure," said Jiang Xinmin, a researcher with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

The conference agreed to strictly control the issuing of loans to sectors featuring high energy consumption and high carbon emissions, increase credit support to low-carbon industries, strictly reduce exports of high energy-consuming products and roll out low-carbon economic development pilot plans.

Jiang said the government's policies would surely produce more breakthroughs in low-carbon technologies, thus providing new vigor for growth. "We can simply say that China has set foot on a low-carbon development road."

The Chinese government's major task this year had been to maintain growth through its stimulus programs amid the global economic downturn, said Wang Xiaoguang, a researcher with the China National School of Administration.

"As the economic recovery is gaining momentum, the country should shift its focus to the long-term development plan," Wang said.

The conference has put much emphasis on "green" development as 2010 will be the last year of the country's 11th five year plan (2006-2010), a guideline for economic and social development, which set hard targets for reducing energy intensity and emissions.

Under the plan, China would reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20 percent and major pollutant emissions by 10 percent from the 2005 levels by 2010, and the country is still working for that goal.

China announced ambitious plans in late November to cut its energy intensity per unit of GDP by as much as 45 percent by 2020 compared to the levels in 2005.

"The country would be pressured to make more efforts to achieve these targets. It is a tough task we must fulfill. We need to change our growth pattern and find a way to sustainable development," Wang said.

The great importance the government attached to emissions cutting suggested the low-carbon concept has gradually merged into the country's development plans, said Wang.

However, it took more than government policies and enforcement to reach the goal, said Zhou Dadi, a researcher with the NDRC

"A low-carbon development pattern also needs concerted efforts by the public to change their life styles," Zhou said.

(Xinhua News Agency December 8, 2009)

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