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Chinese President Xi Jinping said June 14 that his government is drawing up new criteria for reforming energy consumption and production and will move faster to modernize its outdated energy regulations.
“To ensure national energy security, China needs to take steps to rein in irrational energy use and control the country’s energy consumption by fully implementing energy-saving policies,” Xi told a meeting of the government’s Office of the Central Leading Group on Financial and Economic Affairs.
Because of its prodigious coal production, China became the world’s largest energy producer in 2007. Three years later it became the world’s largest consumer of energy, with increasing dependence on imports of foreign oil and gas, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration statistics.
Xi said China must reduce its reliance on coal and increase the use of more diverse sources to generate electricity, turning more to gas, wind and solar energy, and nuclear power. As for coal, he said the government will turn more to “clean coal” technologies and refitting coal-fired plants to limit pollution and energy waste, and to restrict energy consumption.
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Such moves could go a long way to reducing China’s well-known air pollution caused by industrial carbon emissions – about one-fourth of total global emissions – that have led to dense, unhealthful smog in many cities and, in some cases, political unrest.
Xi noted that China is already on the path to energy conservation: The country’s coal consumption rose by only 1.85 percent from 2012 to 2013. This was far less than the 8.3 percent rise from 2002 and 2011. Meanwhile, China’s use of cleaner-burning gas rose 15.4 percent in 2012 and 13.9 percent in 2013.
Also, China has overseen an enormous increase in renewable energy production, with solar and wind power up 122 percent and 35.3 percent respectively in 2013. Still, Xi said, today nearly two-thirds of the country’s energy is generated by coal, and he wants that reduced to about one-half by 2023.
By Andy Tully of Oilprice.com
Andy Tully is a veteran news reporter who is now the news editor for Oilprice.com