China is aiming to increase its coal production by about 30 percent by 2015 to meet its energy needs, the government has announced, in a move likely to fuel concerns over global warming.
Beijing plans to increase annual output to more than 3.3 billion tonnes by 2015, said Hu Cunzhi, chief planner of the land and resources ministry, said on Wednesday.
That is up from the 2.54 billion tonnes in produced 2007, according to the ministry.
Figures for 2008 have not yet been released.
Annual production of natural gas will more than double to 160 billion cubic metres (5.6 billion cubic feet) by 2015, while that of crude oil will increase by seven percent to more than 200 billion tonnes, according to Hu.
The government will set up reserves of oil and coal as part of its efforts to ensure national energy security, added Hu at a press conference.
China began building four strategic oil reserve facilities on its east coast this decade, and two of these are now in operation.
The country’s energy consumption expanded by an average annual rate of 5.4 percent between 1979 and 2007, the official Xinhua news agency said Thursday, which fuelled average annual economic growth of 9.8 percent.
China is dependent on coal for about 70 percent of its energy and because of its thundering growth the country has become one of the two biggest emmitters of greenhouse gases alongside the United States.
Beijing has said that coal, the cheapest and most plentiful source of fuel in China, will remain its major energy source, despite the impact global warming, which is blamed on greenhouse gases, has already had on the country.
However China has repeatedly defended its use of coal, pointing to its efforts to develop renewable energies while blaming industrialised countries for the bulk of the greenhouse gases that are already doing the damage.
It also emphasises that the per capita emissions of greenhouse gases of China, the world’s most populous country with more than 1.3 billion people, are far lower than those of the United States and other developed nations.