According to figures from the State Environmental Protection Administration, China's energy consumption per 10,000 yuan ($1,342) of gross domestic product (GDP) went down from the equivalent of 2.68 tons of coal in 1990 to 1.43 tons in 2005. Over these 15 years, China saved energy totaling 800 million tons of coal equivalent, which led to a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by 1.8 billion tons. Over the same period, China has expanded the plantation of trees, which have absorbed 5 billion tons of carbon dioxide. Forests absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 500 million tons every year.
Current Situation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Between 1994 and 2004, the average annual growth rate for greenhouse gas emissions in China was around 4 percent while the proportion of carbon dioxide among the total amount of greenhouse gases had risen from 76 percent to 83 percent.
Statistics from the International Energy Agency indicate that per-capita carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion were 3.65 tons in 2004, equivalent to only 87 percent of the world average and 33 percent of the level in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries.
Source: National Climate Change Program
That means that without China's forceful measures to cut carbon dioxide emissions, at least 7 billion tons more carbon dioxide would have been expelled into the atmosphere every year.
Although China is the second biggest national greenhouse gas emitter only after the United States, China's per-capita carbon dioxide discharge is 3.65 tons, only 87 percent of the world average level.
In 2002, China ratified the Kyoto Protocol, which came into effect in 2005. Although developing countries like China were not included in any numerical limitations of the protocol, the country still takes effective measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and offset the effects of expelled carbon dioxide.
Gao Guangsheng, an official of the Department of Resource Conservation and Environmental Protection of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said the government is fighting against global warming through direct and indirect measures. Direct measures include closing down or conducting technical reforms of small factories that cause heavy pollution or have high energy consumption levels. Indirect measures include planting trees to absorb carbon dioxide. In 2006 alone, the Central Government invested a total of 25.6 million yuan ($3.4 million) in energy preservation and reduction of carbon dioxide.
The government has attached enormous attention to transforming economic growth models and adjusting economic structures, and regards lowering energy consumption, clean production and preventing industrial pollution as important elements of industrial policy. China has also embarked on improving its energy mix through developing low- carbon energies and renewable energies. Among the composition of China's primary energy consumption, the proportion of coal dropped from 76.2 percent in 1990 to 68.9 percent in 2005. Over the same period, the proportions of petroleum, natural gas and hydropower rose from 16.6 percent, 2.1 percent and 5.1 percent to 21 percent, 2.9 percent and 7.2 percent respectively. In 2006 the consumption of renewable energy in China reached 167 million tons of coal equivalent, accounting for 7.5 percent of total energy consumption. This equals reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 380 million tons.
The Chinese Government has set a goal of reducing energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20 percent and reducing major pollutants by 10 percent between 2006 and 2010. In order to achieve this goal, the government plans to close down small thermal power units of 50 million kw. The goal for 2007 of shutting down units of 10 million kw has been accomplished.
China is also actively developing the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), a flexible financing instrument defined in the Kyoto Protocol that enables developing countries to benefit from the reduction of emissions of harmful greenhouse gases and promotion of sustainable development. According to the latest release from the Office of the National Coordination Committee on Climate Change under the NDRC, the NDRC had ratified a total of 788 CDM programs by September 4.
Chinese CDM programs include exploring new types of energy, energy preservation projects, the recycling of methane, decomposition of harmful greenhouse gas trifluoromethane and finding new substitute fuels.
The NDRC has listed exploring new energies, developing renewable energies, energy preservation, enhancing energy efficiency and expanding the recycling of methane and coal-seam gas as key CDM projects.
Besides measures to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, China is putting even more effort into planting trees to absorb carbon dioxide. China has a total of 54 million hectares of man-made forests, which ranks top in the world. Due to the measures of planting new trees and protecting existing forests, China's forest area has achieved substantial growth. The country has maintained 175 million hectares of forests, which covers about 18.21 percent of the land.
According to a study by Chinese environmental experts, the trees China planted between 1980 and 2005 have absorbed a total of 3.06 billion tons of carbon dioxide; the forests are still absorbing carbon dioxide at a rate of 500 million tons per year.
Attending the 15th Economic Leaders' Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum in Sydney in September, Chinese President Hu Jintao advocated the promotion of China's experience of planting trees to curb global warming, which received media attention and positive comments from other countries. China has