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China Pledges to Increase Use of Renewable Energies to Deal With Shortages, Pollution

China says it will step up the development and use of renewable energies to deal with nation-wide power shortages and pollution. The country's fast-growing economy has been accompanied by rising demand for energy and private vehicle ownership, which has taken a toll on the environment.

Beijing has pledged to increase its use of renewable energies from the current seven percent of total energy to 15 percent by 2020.

The state-run media say China will invest up to $184 billion in such renewable energy sources as wind, solar, and water power.

Most of China's energy currently comes from fossil fuels, especially coal and oil, which have contributed to high levels of air pollution as energy consumption has increased.

The pledge came at an international conference on renewable energy held in the Chinese capital this week. China's Vice Premier, Zeng Peiyan, read a statement from President Hu Jintao at the conference.

"Strengthening the development and use of renewable energies is a must for us to address the increasingly serious energy and environmental issues," he said.

However, environmental experts warn that such steps are not enough to curb China's massive and growing pollution problems.

China's environmental protection agency warned in October that pollution levels could quadruple in the next 15 years if energy demands and vehicle exhaust are not reduced.

China is already the second largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions, and acid rain falls on a third of the country. Most of the top 10 polluted cities in the world are in China.

A Chinese study says air pollution in the country leads to more than 400,000 premature deaths every year.