Chinese premier promises steps to help environment

From the Associated Press

Premier Wen Jiabao pledged Friday to help clean China’s air and water and combat global warming by phasing out tax breaks and discounts on land and electricity for highly polluting industries.

“More work on energy conservation and emissions reduction is urgently required to deal with global climate change,” Wen said. “Our country is a major coal producer and consumer, and reducing polluting emissions is a responsibility we should bear.”

China’s coal habit has made it a major contributor to greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide, which scientists say contribute to global warming.

China accounted for 15% of the world’s greenhouse gases in 2000, second only to the United States’ 21%, but because of China’s fast-growing economy, it is expected to surpass the U.S. in emissions within a few years.

China’s 3-decade-old boom has left waterways and coastlines polluted by industrial and farm chemicals and domestic sewage. Towns are littered with waste and its cities are enveloped in smog. Wen noted that China had failed to meet earlier goals to reduce emissions.