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China Pushes Environmental Change, But Resistance Remains At Local Level

China’s central government is calling for renewable energy to provide 10 percent of its energy use by 2010, and 16 percent by 2020, The Mercury News reports. It has also pledged to reduce water and air pollution emissions by 10 percent and cut energy use per dollar of gross domestic product by 20 percent by 2010.

“They are very serious,” said Vincent Lo, the billionaire Shanghai chairman of the development company the Shui On Group. “As I go around various cities, they don’t talk about economic growth. They are more focused on what they are going to do about emissions, the environment. The total cost of cleaning up the cities will be around five percent of GDP every year.”

There remains plenty of resistance to change, particularly from rural leaders who worry more about providing jobs than dirtying the air, land and water with pollutants. While the central government works to shut down less efficient, small coal-fired plants, local politicians undercut the campaign, said Fuqiang Yang, a researcher with San Francisco-based Energy Foundation.

“We have to encourage China,” he said. “If they fail, it will damage their reputation. And they won’t try again.”

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