Beijing: China on Friday announced plans to invest over USD 400 billion in the next four years for environment protection as a new survey showed that the country had become the top emitter of greenhouse gases.
China plans to invest over three trillion yuan (about USD 473.1 billion) for environment protection between 2011 to 2015, said Wu Xiaoqing, the vice minister of the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP).
China's environmental protection industry is expected to see an annual compound growth rate of 15 to 20 percent, with an annual average output value of 4.9 trillion yuan in the next four years, he told the World Low Carbon and Eco-economy Conference and Technical Exposition at Nanchang in China's eastern Jiangxi province.
The announcement comes ahead of the Durban Climate Change Conference to be held from November 28 to December 9.
China along with India, as members of BASIC grouping, (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) which met here on November 1, have called for launching the second commitment period of Kyoto Protocol to carry forward the binding targets of emissions reductions by the developed countries.
Meanwhile, a survey by Chinese University Tshinghua said greenhouse gases increased in China by 33.6 per cent from 2006 to 2010, making the country the top emitter surpassing the US as early as 2007.
At the same time, China's carbon intensity - a measure of a country's emissions compared with each unit of its economic growth - dropped by 20.8 per cent, partly because of the country's work to become more energy efficient and rely more on renewable sources of energy, the survey said.
The report, Annual Review of Low-carbon Development in China by the Chinese University Tshinghua's Climate Policy Initiative said the government’s goal of controlling coal use in the next five years will be unattainable so long as local authorities remain reluctant to use less energy while they pursue economic growth.
"Local authorities still have a strong desire for economic expansion," Qi Ye, the editor-in-chief of the report, was quoted as saying today by the state-run China Daily.
"If you consider their growth targets together, you can see they are significantly higher than the annual growth goal of seven per cent set by China for its 12th Five-Year Plan
(2011-2015) period," he said.
Qi said by 2015, the annual consumption of energy is expected to be "equivalent to burning 4.6 billion tonnes of coal a year, according to the provincial targets".
"That's 500 million more tonnes than would be entailed by the amount of energy consumption called for in the central government's estimates."
China on Wednesday approved a plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions in a bid to realize a 17-per cent fall in carbon-di-oxide emission per unit of GDP by 2015.
China consumed 3.2 billion tonnes of standard coal in 2010, about 46 per cent of what was used in the world, said Zhang Guobao, the former head of the country's National Energy Administration.
During the past five years, the country has gone from getting 68 percent of its energy from coal to getting 70 percent, despite its heavy investment in renewable energy, Zhang said.
"The growing demand for coal will put China under pressure in terms of coal mining, transportation and controlling carbon emissions," he said.
From 2006 to 2010, China spent 1.73 trillion yuan (USD 272.8 billion) on renewable energy and another 859.2 billion yuan on projects meant to ensure energy is used efficiently, the report said.
"Investments on such a scale - equal to about USD 80 billion a year - are the largest ever in the country's history and have made China a global leader in green investment," Qi said.
As a result, the country has seen its energy use for each unit of its economic growth decrease by 19.1 per cent.
Even so, China continued to release more carbon gases than US since 2007 as American economy hit economic downturn, Qi said.
If China fulfils predictions and continues to use more energy in the next five years, it is likely to face increasing pressure from international community to manage its emissions of greenhouse gases, Qi warned.
By 2020, China plans to reduce its carbon intensity by 40 to 45 percent below what it was in 2005.
The report is not an official announcement from the Chinese government.
Even so, the editors of the report include members of the national expert committee on climate change, a think tank mandated to consider the country's climate policy.
First Published: Friday, November 11, 2011, 22:32