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EU Ambassador Expresses Disappointment in China's Lack of Energy Savings, Vows Cooperation


The European Union's ambassador to Beijing says he is disappointed at China's failure to reach its own energy reduction goals. The EU has vowed to reduce its emissions of climate-changing gases, but says China, the world's second largest producer of such gases, must follow suit, or the Europeans' efforts will come to nothing. Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing.

EU Ambassador Serge Abou had praise Friday for Beijing's willingness to tackle the issue of greenhouse gas emissions. But he told reporters he was disappointed at China's failure to reach the energy reduction target it set for itself last year.

China has vowed to reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP by four percent a year between 2006 and 2010. But in the first half of last year, energy consumption actually rose by nearly one percent.

Abou says last year's figures make it all the more important for the EU to help China lower its energy use.

"It has not paid for the first year. But, it is not a reason to sit and cry," he noted. "It is a reason for further mobilization and, I repeat, it is a reason for us to offer all the assistance we can provide."

Energy consumption is no longer a local problem. Abou's comments coincided with the release of a United Nations report in Paris Friday, which says the global climate is almost certainly being changed by human consumption of fossil fuels, and the so-called greenhouse gases that result.

In January, an EU official visiting Beijing said that if not curtailed soon, China's rising greenhouse gas emissions could easily offset any reductions made by the EU.

China, which relies on pollution-heavy coal for most of its fast-growing energy needs, is already the world's second-greatest emitter of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses, and is expected to overtake the United States as the number-one emitter by 2010.

On average, one new coal-burning power plant is put into operation in China every 10 days. Pollution from the country has spread to other parts of Asia, and as far away as Canada.

The EU has led an effort to persuade industrialized nations to commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent from 1990 levels. It says that if other nations fail to make this commitment, the EU will still reduce its own emissions by at least 20 percent.

The EU and China are conducting joint research on technologies known as carbon capture and storage, with the aim of reducing emissions from China's thousands of coal-fired energy plants.

Abou says the EU has also proposed creating an EU energy savings technology research center in China.