by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) March 5, 2013
China will sharply boost renewable energy this year, it said Tuesday, after repeated bouts of heavy pollution across much of the country heightened public anger on the issue over recent weeks.
The country plans to increase hydropower generating capacity by 21 million kilowatts this year, wind by 18 million kilowatts and solar energy by 10 million kilowatts, the National Development and Reform Commission said in a report.
The figures are all higher than the annual average increase over the past five years of 20 million kilowatts, 11.6 million and 1.4 million respectively, according to official data.
China depends heavily on coal to power its growth but has set a goal of increasing non-fossil energy use to 15 percent of its total consumption by 2020, up from 9.6 percent in 2010, as part of efforts to address the pollution problem.
The thick smog that blanketed large swathes of the country in recent months has put mounting pressure on the government, with even state media issuing outspoken calls for action.
Local incidents of industrial pollution also regularly spark significant protests.
"We should resolve to solve the problems of serious air, water, and soil pollution that affect the people's vital interests," Premier Wen Jiabao said at the start of China's annual parliamentary session.
"(We should) improve environmental quality, and safeguard people's health, and give the people hope through our concrete action," Wen emphasised, prompting loud applause.
He said the government will restrict total energy consumption, reduce emissions, and upgrade relevant standards and laws to control pollution.
But analysts say that tackling the root causes of the problem, which include reliance on coal-fired power stations and growing car use, are huge tasks that will take decades to address.
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