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Greenhouse Gas Emissions Fall in China

Xinhua, 18 June 2001

WASHINGTON, June 18 (Xinhua) -- China has achieved dramatic and stunning success in reducing emissions of carbon dioxide in the last decade while also making rapid economic progress, the New York Times reported on Friday. China's emissions of carbon dioxide have shrunk by 17 per cent since the mid-1990s, and remarkably, over the same period, (its) GDP grew by 36 per cent, the newspaper quoted a recent report from researchers at the Laboratory in California as saying.

The report noted that China has contributed substantially to reducing growth in global greenhouse gas emissions even though it has not undertaken binding commitments under an international agreement.

The latest findings have proved that the United States will remain the biggest polluter for some time to come and it is wrong to estimate that China would overtake the United States as the world's leading producer of greenhouse gases by 2020, the newspaper said.

The development served as a forceful rebuttal to US President George W. Bush's remark last Monday that he cannot support the 1997 Kyoto Protocol mainly because it exempts China and other developing countries from the initial limits on greenhouse gases emissions that richer countries are supposed to accept.

In the last decade, according to data compiled by the United States Energy Department, China's carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels have increased at annual rate of 0.9 per cent, much lower than the 1.3 per cent a year registered in the United States, even though China has scored faster economic growth.

There is a good basis to argue that China has done more to combat climate change over the past decade than has the United States, said the Natural Resources Defence Council, an American environmental group.

Zhou Dadi, director of China's Energy Research Institute, was quoted as saying that China's per capita energy use is just one-10th of that in the United States and one-seventh of that in Europe. We already have one of the world's best records in improving energy efficiency.

Before 1980, China's energy consumption grew 1.6 times as fast as its economy, but in the last 20 years, energy use has grown at less than half the rate of the economy - an exceptional advance in efficient use of fuel, Zhou was quoted as saying.

The newspaper story ran on its front page at a time when President Bush was bitterly criticized by European allies for his refusal to accept the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.