The world’s largest emitter and biggest importer of energy, China, has announced it will drop $382 billion in anti-pollution measures and energy conservation projects over the next three and a half years. It is hoped the investment will cut coal use by 300 million tons annually.
Consuming energy at such an unprecedented rate has proven to be expensive and toxic for the Chinese people. Currently, China imports 185 million tons of coal, and some analysts expect this number to rise as high as one billion tons by 2030.
Since 2010, China has been importing more than 50% of all oil it consumes. In 2011, 253.8 million tons of crude oil hit Chinese docks, an increase of 6% from the previous year. Due to crude prices rising 37% in 2011, this precious fuel cost China $196.6 billion, 45.3% more than 2010.
With an eye to creating more energy security, $155 billion of the new infusion of cash will be spent on project that shrink energy use. Meanwhile, major industry energy hogs will have to reduce energy use over the next five year. The steel industry will have to cut its consumption by 25%, while the coal industry will need to shave its demand by 8%.
Additionally, the plan calls for China to cut its carbon emission per unit of GDP by 40% to 45% from 2005 levels by 2020. China contributed 29% of the world’s total carbon emissions in 2011; and, its production of greenhouse gases is rising — in 2011, the Middle Kingdom pumped 9.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, 800 million tons more than 2010.
Although the country is not prepared to sign off on an legally binding international accord to cap emissions, and a national carbon reduction scheme has yet to be created, China is implementing carbon reduction schemes at a micro-level within its borders. Over the next two years, seven Chinese provinces will introduce carbon trading schemes. This is welcome news for Chinese citizens who bear the brunt of the burden from toxic energy emissions.