China’s economic slowdown will not affect its determination to meet the targets of cutting emissions during the next few years, experts have told Xinhua.
In the third quarter of 2012, the country’s economy grew by 7.4 percent year-on-year, slowing for the seventh consecutive quarter and down from 7.6 percent in the second quarter and 8.1 percent in the first, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
As its economy slowed, worries have lingered over whether the country would sacrifice its commitment to reduce emissions in favor of seeking steady growth. Right now, countries are calculating China’s commitment in combating climate change as the actions of the world’s second-largest economy have come into the limelight at the ongoing United Nations Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar.
However, Yang Hongwei, director of the energy efficiency center under the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), told Xinhua on Tuesday that slow growth will not hurt China’s determination to conserve energy and reduce emissions.
In recent years, the country has consistently strengthened its efforts in energy conservation and emission reduction, and as a result, energy consumption per unit of GDP has been decreasing year by year.
From 2006 to 2011, the energy consumption for every 10,000 yuan of GDP dropped by 20.7 percent, saving energy equivalent to 710 million tonnes of standard coal.
China made a commitment in its 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) that by 2015, energy consumption per unit of GDP will drop by 16 percent from 2010 and carbon dioxide (CO2) emission per unit of GDP will drop by 17 percent.
The Chinese government has also committed to cutting CO2 emission per unit of GDP by 40 to 45 percent from the level of 2005 by 2020.
“Judging from the progress of energy conservation in China’s provincial-level regions, the country will be able to meet its targets,” according to Yang.
Data released by the NDRC last week showed that 24 of 30 regions tracked have successfully meet their targets of energy conservation in the first nine month this year.
Yang said that emission reduction and economic development are not contradictory and meeting the emission-cut targets will help promote the country’s economic growth with higher quality than before.
Zhuang Jian, an economist with the Asian Development Bank, also said that the Chinese government has sent a clear signal to local governments that they must get off the old track of growth based on heavy energy consumption.
“They must put energy conservation and emission reduction at a prominent position to realize sustainable development,” Zhuang said.
China has long prioritized energy conservation.
In early 1980s, it put forward the development policy of “stressing both energy development and conservation, while giving priority to conservation.”
According to a report delivered at the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in early November, the country will continue to give high priority to making ecological progress.
China should address the root cause of deterioration of the ecological environment to reverse this trend, create a sound working and living environment for the people and contribute its share to global ecological security, the report said.