China plans to invest 6.43 billion yuan (US$780m) to curb sulphur dioxide emissions spewing from the coal-fired power plants that are fueling its economic growth, state media said. The aim is to reduce emissions by 650,000t at 31 of the biggest plants, the China Securities Journal reported, citing the National Development and Reform Commission. It gave no timetable.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China’s coal consumption increased 13.6 per cent to 1.58bn tonnes in 2003, with sulphur dioxide emissions jumping 15.75 per cent. With more than 60 per cent of China’s power plants burning coal to generate electricity, coal consumption is expected to reach 1.8bn tonnes this year. Accordingly, sulphur dioxide emissions are forecast to increase by 6Mt to nearly 20Mt in 2005, the report said.
China, the world’s second biggest greenhouse gas emitter after the United States, is a member of the Kyoto Protocol but with a developing country tag it does not have to meet specific targets for cutting emissions. However, aware that as it industrialises energy consumption, and hence pollution, will rise, China has begun to more actively tackle environmental issues, observers say.
At the Bonn conference on renewable energy last June, China pledged to increase its installed renewable energy generating capacity to about 60 gigawatts by 2010, about 10 per cent of total power capacity.