China invests $372B to cut pollution, energy use

China is spending $372 billion on energy conservation and anti-pollution measures over the next three-and-a-half years, reports Reuters.

The measures, meant to reduce China's dependence on fossil fuels and slow down its carbon emissions, are part of the so-called 12th five-year plan. They will center on energy-efficiency, emissions reduction and recycling projects, says the China State Council. 

The investments will help the country get halfway toward its goal of cutting energy intensity by 16 percent below 2010 levels by 2015, says the council.

China is the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases; it plans to cut its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45 percent from 2005 levels by 2020.

While the country's ministers did not detail exactly where the money will be spent, $155 billion will go toward energy efficiency projects, especially those in the industrial sector.

China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) is targeting a 21 percent reduction in energy intensity by 2015. That means steel producers must cut energy use per unit of production by 25 percent, coal-fired power plants by 8 percent and cement manufacturers by 3 percent.

Image of a factory at Yangtze River in China via Wikimedia Commons

The investments disclosed this week are in large part meant to reduce China's growing depend on imports of oil, gas and coal to fuel its economic growth. That growth has made it difficult for the country to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Last year, China was responsible for 29 percent of the world's total C02 emissions.

Despite that dubious distinction, China earned the No. 7 spot on a recent ranking of national energy efficiency focused on the world's top 12 economies.

The analysis by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) considered 27 categories, divided into four groups: National policies and three sectors primarily responsible for energy consumption in economically developed countries -buildings, industry, and transportation. 

China is making green building projects a particular focus of its efficiency plans. Thirty percent of new construction in China will be energy efficient by 2020, according to a document released in May by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development.

This story originally appeared in Sustainable Business and is reprinted with permission.