China Plans to Make Plans to Address Climate Change

Climate change, water conservation, and pollution top the agenda of the emerging nation.

China says it wants 15% of its energy sources to be renewable by 2020. And at Saturday's annual Parliament meeting, they'll have a chance to put those desires in writing by dedicating a chunk of the country's upcoming five-year-plan to climate change targets.

"The depletion, deterioration and exhaustion of resources and the deterioration of the environment have become serious bottlenecks constraining economic and social development," environment minister Zhou Shengxian said in a statement.

The true test will come as individual industries come up with their own five-year plans--the government is anxiously looking to the heavy steel and aluminum industries to clean up their act. Individual provinces are also set to launch their own emissions trading schemes later this year, so it seems that stakeholders from both the public and private sectors are being called to the table.

Water will take a special focus in the plan--both for its energy generating capacities and for the effect pollution has had on China's rivers.

"We understand thousands of key heavy metal polluters will be put under tightened monitoring and this is important," said the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs' Ma Jun. "But there is a lack of transparency and we believe public scrutiny could generate the motivation to cut their emissions."

And China's infamous dams are causing another wave of questions, as the resources required for dam construction and operation are sometimes at odds with environmental goals.

"We need to realize that large hydro by itself has such a large environmental impact that it shouldn't be considered a renewable energy," said Ma. "In 2004, China overtook the United States as the world's largest hydropower capacity but the plan is to more than triple that by 2020--that means in many of our rivers there won't be running water."

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[Image: Flickr user hughrocks]

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