China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Monday, November 30, 2009

Lessons from China's Three Gorges Dam

Peter Bosshard Via

The world's largest hydropower project has reached its final dimensions. Peter Bosshard draws conclusions from the Three Gorges experience.

Fifteen years after construction started, the water level of the Three Gorges reservoir is scheduled to reach its final height of 175 meters this fall. After 27 million cubic meters of cement have been poured, 39 cubic kilometers of water have been stored, and 1.3 million people have been resettled, it is time to take stock.

I have monitored the Three Gorges Project ever since the Swiss government approved export credits for it in the mid-1990s. I have discussed the project with Chinese government officials, affected people and environmental experts, and had the chance to visit the dam site this summer. I would like to offer the following conclusions from this experience for discussion:

•  China completed the highly complex, challenging construction project ahead of schedule, which is rare in the international hydropower sector. Technically, the Three Gorges Dam is a masterpiece of Chinese engineering. The government insists that with a cost of $27.2 billion, the project was built within budget. Others claim that many costs do not appear in the official calculations, and that the project may cost up to $88 billion.

The Three Gorges Dam

•  The hydropower project on the Yangzi River substitutes for burning at least 30 million tons of coal every year, which is more than 1 percent of China's total coal consumption. However, the Three Gorges Dam was not the only option for replacing coal. During the 2001-05 period, the energy efficiency of the Chinese economy dropped. According to Douglas Ogden of the Energy Foundation, it would have been "cheaper, cleaner and more productive for China to have invested in energy efficiency" rather than in new power plants.

•  The dam has displaced more than 1.24 million people, and more people will need to be displaced to avoid an environmental disaster in the reservoir area. When I visited the Yangzi valley this summer, many people complained that compensation payments had been diverted into the pockets of local officials, and were not sufficient to pay for the new apartments. Citizens who protested against such corruption were frequently beaten up. Because it is no longer in the business of setting up new factories, the government was not able to fulfill its original promise to provide jobs to urban dwellers. Developing new farm land on steep hills also turned out to be unfeasible, so the government could not provide adequate land to most resettled farmers. Now that the project is complete, some areas have overcome the trauma of displacement, while others seem to be caught in a cycle of poverty and desperation. Either way, we have to acknowledge that displacing large numbers of people is becoming ever less feasible in densely populated China.

•  The Three Gorges Dam is a massive intervention into the Yangzi's ecosystem. When it was converted into a stagnant water body, the river lost the ability to clean itself. Pollution from the submerged areas and the dirty industries along the shores are causing frequent toxic algae blooms. Important fish species such as the Chinese Sturgeon are threatened with extinction, and commercial fisheries in the Yangzi and off the river's mouth have plummeted. In September 2007, senior government officials warned that the project could turn into an environmental "catastrophe" if drastic measures were not taken.

A view of the dam from the International Space Station, June 3, 2009

•  The water level of the Three Gorges reservoir fluctuates between 145 and 175 meters every year. This has already destabilized the slopes of the Yangzi Valley, and has created serious risks of erosion and landslides. More than 150 dangerous geological events were recorded within months after the reservoir was first impounded. According to the magazine Caijing (Finance), erosion affects slightly more than half the reservoir area, and 178 kilometers of riverbanks are at risk of collapsing. The project authorities had not predicted such a serious threat to the region. Addressing it will be very costly, and may require moving more than 500,000 additional people out of the region.

Landslide along the river (International Rivers), July 2009

•  Since most of the silt load from the Yangzi's upper and middle reaches is now deposited in the reservoir, the downstream regions are being starved of sediment. As a consequence, up to 4 square kilometers of coastal wetlands are eroded every year. The Yangzi Delta is subsiding, and seawater is intruding up the river, affecting agriculture and drinking water supplies. Some scientists even suggest that changes in the Yangzi's nutrient load are responsible for the sudden explosion of giant jellyfish populations which hamper fisheries off the coast of Japan. While there are no in-depth studies on this phenomenon, the discussion illustrates that the ecological impacts of large dams are often too wide-ranging and complex to be predicted or controlled.

•  Periodic floods have taken the lives of hundred thousands of people in the Yangzi Valley. The Three Gorges reservoir has created a buffer which mitigates these flood risks. On the other hand, the river's silt-free water is now scouring the banks downstream of the dam, which undermines these benefits. The project also increases the exposure of Shanghai to typhoons by eroding the coastline, and creates seismic risks in the Yangzi Valley. The Three Gorges Dam sits on two fault lines, and hundreds of small tremors have been recorded since the reservoir began filling. While the dam has been built to withstand strong earthquakes, the villages and towns in its vicinity have not. It is difficult to balance these risks with the increased flood protection which the dam may offer in the lower Yangzi Valley.

•  In November 2009, the project authorities realized that they could not raise the water level in the reservoir to 175 meters as planned. They were surprised by the drought in the lower Yangzi Valley and, some observers say, needed to protect the banks of the reservoir from further landslides. The discussion about the appropriate water level indicates that there are difficult trade-offs between flood protection, electricity generation, environmental flows and the protection of the catchment area. These interests will continue to collide in the future operation of the reservoir.

In recent years, the Chinese government has strengthened the laws and regulations pertaining to dam construction, and has expanded the powers of the new Ministry of Environmental Protection. The government has set very ambitious goals for the promotion of energy efficiency and renewable energy. China is on track to improve the energy intensity of its economy by 20% by 2010, and to generate 15% of all energy from renewable sources (wind, biomass, solar and small hydro) by 2020. While the Three Gorges Dam comes across as a model of the past if all impacts are considered, China is now positioning itself as a global leader in the energy technologies of the future.

The Chinese government has also decided to retroactively compensate the 18 million people who have been displaced by dams in China with a yearly sum of $75 for 20 years. This act of restitution is unprecedented, and many other countries could learn from it.

At the same time, important gaps remain. Most resettlers in the Yangzi Valley have still not been adequately compensated. The Ministry of Environmental Protection often receives the environmental impact assessments of dam projects too late in the process, and does not have sufficient resources to review all of them thoroughly. Fines for the violation of environmental laws and regulations are too low to ensure effective compliance. Now that the Three Gorges Project has been completed, the government should commission a thorough independent evaluation of its costs and benefits. If it is acknowledged that large dams create irreversible social and environmental damage, low-impact alternatives such as energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies become all the more attractive.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

China Beachhead: More Government Support for Chinese Clean-Energy Exports

From China today, another reminder of the role governments are playing in the global green-energy push.

China's Export-Import Bank signed a $2.9 billion deal to boost exports of China Energy Conservation Investment Corporation, an energy-efficiency and renewable-energy project developer. Government money helps finance Chinese energy companies with less access to the global banking system; that big Chinese wind farm in Texas is also financed by the Export-Import bank.

Jonathan Shieber at Dow Jones Clean Tech Insight notes that the Chinese support goes far beyond what the U.S. announced earlier this month: "'This swamps any U.S. [government] initiatives to support exports,'" said Charles R. McElwee, counsel in the Shanghai office of the law firm Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP."

And how—the U.S. Export-Import deal is a $250 million plan to boost exports of U.S clean-energy products. Japan said this summer it would help finance the overseas purchase of Japanese clean-energy technology, in a bid to boost adoption of still-pricey technology.

All of this comes amidst a fresh bout of hand-wringing over who's spending how much to promote clean energy. One of the latest reports, from the Breakthrough Institute, says Asian countries including China, will outspend the U.S. three-to-one over the next five years, with potentially big implications for the early development of clean-energy industries.

In other words, it seems that the battle over clean-energy tech—or ET, as Tom Friedman would have it—is increasingly becoming a scrap for governments as much as for private-sector firms. China, for example, has taken steps to boost its domestic clean-energy manufacturing capacity, heavily subsidized its domestic clean-energy deployment, and is now ramping up support for clean-energy exports. Ditto, to different degrees, with Japan and South Korea.

All of which should just make the next stab at energy and climate legislation in Congress all the more interesting—provided the health-care fight and election concerns haven't derailed enegy legislation altogether.

Friday, November 20, 2009

How Much of China's Emissions Mess Is Really Ours?

There's plenty of interesting stuff in the latest paper in Nature Geosciences about the growth in global greenhouse-gas emissions—that the growth is overwhelmingly concentrated in developing countries, for example, or that natural carbon "sinks" such as oceans appear to be less effective at absorbing carbon dioxide than in years past. (More on the paper here and here.)

Associated Press
Right back at you

But one thing in particular stands out: The role played by the rich world's "offshoring" of manufacturing emissions to the developing world, especially China. The idea that rich countries are, fundamentally, responsible for a significant share of developing-world emissions just adds another wrinkle to global talks that are already going nowhere fast.

According to the paper, "Trends in the sources and sinks of carbon dioxide," a big part of the emissions growth in developing countries is due to their manufacture of things for export—from flip-flops to iPhones.

In China, for instance, 30% of the growth in emissions from 1990 to 2002 is attributable to the production of exports, the paper says. In recent years, as Chinese factories ramped up production, that share has grown—accounting for 50% of Chinese emissions growth between 2002 and 2005.

Overall, the paper concludes, 30% of total emissions in China—the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases—came from "the production of exports" in 2005.

Not even Chinese officials have gone that far. In raising the issue earlier this year, Chinese government officials estimated between 15% and 25% of the country's emissions came from the production of stuff the rich world no longer makes for itself.

This whole idea has a history. Academics have been arguing for years that part of China's emissions growth should be chalked up to the Western consumers who buy the stuff. Indeed, the paper says that while U.S. domestic emissions grew only 6% between 1997 and 2004, "consumption emissions" grew 17%. "A key factor driving the growth of consumption-based emissions was the import of manufactured products from China," the paper concludes.

And U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke sparked a brief firestorm this summer when he floated the idea that American consumers pick up part of the tab for those emissions, an idea the administration quickly squelched.

The point is—yes, China and the developing world are responsible for the overwhelming majority of new greenhouse-gas emissions, both in recent years and in years to come. But, as the paper notes, a "considerable share" of developing world emissions are now "associated with international trade."

Which seems to suggest that not just the old Kyoto division between developed and developing countries is outdated—but also that the very idea that greenhouse-gas emissions carry a single passport in the first place is no longer totally valid.

All of which only promises to make already tortured climate talks an even bigger source of friction beteween the haves and the have-nots.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Going Green in China, Case by Case

ORDOS REGION, CHINA — This region of Inner Mongolia, home to one of the biggest deserts in China, is being transformed into the site of a pine forest that will stretch across its low hills as far as the eye can see.

The local government's tree-planting program is part of a plan to "assume our green responsibilities and build a civilized way of life," Du Zi, the local Communist Party secretary, told energy executives at a conference last month in Beijing.

Also on tap: the world's biggest plant to convert sunlight to electricity, built by First Solar of Tempe, Arizona, part of a 12-gigawatt wind, solar and biomass power-generating zone. And General Electric is helping the land of Genghis Khan cut wastewater emissions into the Yellow River, which borders the region.

"This shows what local leadership can do in China these days," said Kenneth Lieberthal, head of the Brookings Institution's China Center in Washington, which played host to Mr. Du and other provincial officials at the Oct. 21-23 conference. "They've gone flat-out."

Regions are vying to outdo one another in a race to develop alternative-energy sources and reduce pollution. Gansu Province in western China is building a wind farm equivalent to about 20 nuclear power facilities. In the east, Zhejiang Province is installing solar panels on roofs. Beijing bans motorcycles from the city center in favor of electric bikes.

Their efforts demonstrate that China, the world's largest producer of the emissions blamed for global warming, will continue to accelerate development of energy from renewable sources, even as it resists binding targets for reducing carbon emissions ahead of a U.N. summit meeting in Copenhagen next month aimed at forging a new treaty to curb greenhouse gases.

Some regional officials now see environmental projects as a way to bolster their economies after decades when companies were allowed to poison the air and water without penalties while expanding output.

And First Solar surged $12.94, or 11 percent, to close at $134.41 on Nasdaq on Sept. 8, the day Wu Bangguo, China's highest-ranking leader after President Hu Jintao, visited the company's Tempe headquarters. The next day the company made the Ordos agreement public.

Mr. Du, 54, cites a list of achievements in Ordos: increasing the portion covered by vegetation to 81 percent last year from 20 percent in 2000, closing 1,200 polluting factories and installing 100 megawatts of wind capacity.

The 20-gigawatt, 120 billion yuan, or $17.6 billion, Gansu project, set for completion in 2020, would be the biggest wind farm in the world. The Roscoe Wind Complex in Texas, currently the largest, generates less than one gigawatt — a billion watts — of electricity.

China is under pressure from the international community to accelerate its push toward alternative energy. It has refused to accept binding restrictions on carbon pollution, saying controls will crimp economic growth. Instead, China has pledged to cut emissions voluntarily in proportion to gross domestic product, without committing to include the policy in a global agreement.

Mr. Hu called climate change "a grave challenge to mankind" and pledged to work for "positive outcomes" in Copenhagen during a speech Sunday at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Singapore.

Collaboration between the United States and China on alternative energy was on the agenda for the talks this week in Beijing between Mr. Hu and President Barack Obama. Such projects are already under way in Ordos, Mr. Du says.

General Electric, based in Connecticut, is working with Elion Chemical Industry of Ordos City to cut its wastewater discharge into the Yellow River. The project is slated to be completed next year, said G.E., the biggest maker of power-plant equipment in the world.

First Solar, the largest U.S. producer of solar modules, is looking for more business following the planned groundbreaking next year for the new photovoltaic facility.

"We hope this will be the first of many projects in China," said Brandon Mitchener, a company spokesman based in Brussels. "China has the potential to become one of, if not the, largest solar market in the world."

The Bloomberg World Energy-Alternate Sources Index has risen 21 percent in the last year as of Nov. 16, compared with a 27 percent rise in the Standard and Poor's 500 Index.

Ordos, among the nation's wealthiest areas, has the means to push big, government-backed projects. It claims one-sixth of China's proven coal reserves and one-third of its natural gas, giving the region of 1.6 million people a per capita income of 102,128 yuan, the third highest of any Chinese municipality.

Mr. Hu is signaling that he is serious about changing China's energy mix. The goal is to produce 15 percent from renewable sources by 2020, according to a 2006 energy law.

China will see an even greater push by provinces and cities if the Communist Party begins to reward and promote officials on the basis of their ability to promote alternative energy, says John Thornton, a former co-president of Goldman Sachs who is now chairman of Brookings and was co-host of the October conference in Beijing.

"China is really quite an impressive, well-oiled machine in its ability to do large-scale things decisively," Mr. Thornton said.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

China Wants to Take "a Leadership Role" On Climate: An Interview with WWF's Yang Fuqiang, Part 2

by Alex Pasternack, New York, NY on 11. 9.09


When it comes to China's efforts to curtail greenhouse gases, Dr. Yang Fuqiang, director of global climate solutions at the World Wildlife Fund, has an optimal vantage point. He began his career as a researcher at the National Development and Reform Commission, the Chinese government's main economic planner, before continuing in the realm of energy and the environment. We spoke with him recently in Beijing, a few weeks before President Obama's upcoming visit.

This is the second part of our interview; also see the first part of our interview, about US-China collaboration.

TreeHugger: What's the best way China can address its carbon emissions in the short term?
Yang Fuqiang: They have two chances. One is Obama. Maybe China will give him some gift. The second chance is Copenhagen. China might say we have our binding targets for our emissions domestically, but not internationally.

To lower emissions, they have to have a package. First, energy efficiency. In the power sector they closed down and eliminated the small coal-fired power plants. Now they plan to close down the 50 MW plants. In the next couple of years they will close down 100 MW plants. And then up to 200, if some 200 MW some plants are old enough. This is gradual. But it's a lot. They also have these new extra-supercritical coal-fired power plants. If you look at a graph of energy efficiency in the power sector from 1980 to 2003 - that's how much energy per kWh - the trend is very flat. But in recent years the graph shoots up. They've improved a lot.

The question now is about the energy use for iron, steel and cement - the government has to do more, and there's a lot of improvement to be made. And because of the country's reliance on coal and the force of central government policies, these are the sorts of improvements that can only happen in China.

What role will coal play in China in the coming decades?
So far, China is trying to diversify power generation. Renewable, nuclear, natural gas. But right now, 80 percent of China's electricity generation comes from coal. In the future it could be 50 percent. Carbon capture and storage will make it easier to improve energy efficiency and handle carbon emissions. Meanwhile, small coal boilers will use natural gas.

Can you envision China embarking on a massive effort to capture carbon and store it?
It has to. But at this moment, the minds of Chinese government officials have to be changed, particularly by the NDRC. The question is, how can we have a very strong argument that says this is good, this technology is promising, and in the future we can cut costs. You'd say to an official, "You're an engineer and I'm an engineer. If you try to improve the technology maybe you say it's wrong, but maybe I say it's right. There's no evidence for argument. So maybe demonstration can prove who is wrong or right. After a demonstration project, the facts tell them, data tells them, this is right for us. Otherwise, they don't believe it. They say it's too costly. It's very hard to convince them.
At the beginning CSS is very expensive, but if China can start soon on the technology learning curve, in the future this can be one area for the Chinese to gain a competitive advantage. For exports, so China could sell it to developed countries.

What has made climate change an important issue for the Chinese officials with whom you've worked?
Because I've been involved in climate change for two decades, I have seen that the Chinese government's senior officials' attitude has changed. Before they were more defensive. They used to say, "Climate change - that's your responsibility. You have to take care of that. We are a developing country, and we have a right to emit more for our economic goals." But gradually they're saying, "Okay, we'd like to work together, and we'd like to even take a leadership role."

They're all thinking about China's future. Climate change, this is a major concern of the international community. If China doesn't take this concern seriously, it's isolated from the international community. And they have to take care because the countries most damaged by climate change are the developing countries, not the developed countries. So they think, we have to care about this, for the sake of China.

I think this is very important now for the government in economic terms too. They're realizing that the world's resources are not enough to support China, and seeing that they need to accept and implement a low carbon economy in the future.

And moving in that direction will also keep China competitive with other countries, right?
Now globally, China realizes that if they don't think about climate change, other countries will develop technologies that are different from theirs. "I can still use coal," they're saying, "but in the end, I lose. The economy is globalized. Other countries are moving in that direction, and you say you want to be competitive.

What more can the central government do to encourage energy efficiency and the growth of renewable energy?
I disagree with what they've been doing. They've issued [cooling mechanisms] to six sectors that are experiencing over capacity, including wind and solar. They need to separate renewables out of that policy. And at the moment they're trying to do too much. I tell them, "You have no personnel to handle six sectors." They're talking about closing down and improving energy efficiency for iron and steel, but we haven't done anything yet. Try to do too many things and you screw yourself up. So we need to concentrate on iron and steel and not mix them in with renewables.

Now China is giving very high tariffs for wind and solar. That's why many investors are seeing the signals, and investing so much. But on the other hand, in the future I'd like to see other incentives, like a carbon tax and energy tax, and even carbon allocation.

Do you mean a national carbon market? When will that happen in China?
In the next two years. But first China officially needs to say, we need a carbon target. This is a kind of cap and trade, but it will be based on a relative target, not an absolute one. That's not perfect, but it's still okay. So a carbon tax will be imposed and then a carbon market. They have already started one in Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin. But for a mature market they'll need ten years.

How important and credible are carbon and energy targets in China?
At the moment the developing countries say we don't accept MRV (measurable, reportable and verifiable emissions reductions). But if China sets a carbon target at 17 percent, and they announce it internationally, we will really get this.

The [central] government thinks, "If I have no number, who cares? How can we make this happen, realize this goal? We have to do something. Governors and officials, if you don't do a good job step down." The same goes for state-owned companies.

In other countries you don't see that kind of push. They use mandatory institutional tools well, but not enough. But equally important and more efficient for China is the market. They have to use both hands. One hand is very strong, the other hand is weak. You have to make this hand, the market, much stronger.

What do you know about the impact of the performance evaluation standard for officials?
They recently put environment and energy efficiency in there. If they have a carbon target, they'll put carbon in too. They're making a more integrated performance evaluation system. Two years ago, many governors said, "If I cannot reach this target, I will step down." Well, you say that, but maybe you just have a big mouth. We'll wait and see at the end of 2010 [the deadline for the country's energy goals] how the media reports this. If there's no significant improvement, perhaps there will be calls to "step down please!"

What role are reporters and citizens playing in terms of putting pressure on the government when it comes to meeting targets or keeping pollution down?
The people's representatives at the National People's Congress set this 20 percent energy efficiency target. It's a legally binding target. After five years, the government will say they reached or didn't reach their goal. And the congress will say, "why did this governor get promoted if he didn't achieve his goal?" We can deliver this message to the media. This is what NGOs will do. We will take this very seriously.

Lastly, what place does climate change have in the mind of your average Chinese citizen?
I don't want to say this is fortunate exactly, but when it comes to climate change, Chinese people can touch it and feel it. Every year we have these natural disasters. China suffers. So now WWF is carrying out a study on climate change impact. Nobody has really looked at total loss yet. But people know that the water issue is more serious than the energy issue. They understand that water supplies are decreasing, and that affects food supplies. And that's connected to climate change. We need to make it clear that tackling it won't just benefit the economy but benefit all of China.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Hummer Is a 'Garbage Brand'

China's top climate-change negotiator makes a case that his country is gearing up for the December summit in Copenhagen.

Nov 3, 2009

In September at the United Nations, Chinese President Hu Jintao said that, by 2020, China would reduce carbon emissions by a "notable margin." Contrary to the popular notion that China is anything but green, Hu's speech may be backed up with action. It coincided with accelerated efforts to spend $713 million on "green" initiatives, such as the country's first "zero-emissions city" in Gansu province. It is a significant move as the Chinese government prepares for the worldwide climate-change conference that will take place in Copenhagen this December. But how seriously should the world take Chinese initiatives? NEWSWEEK's Melinda Liu talked to Su Wei, Beijing's top climate-change negotiator at the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) to ask about China's official thinking on Copenhagen—and why Hummer is a "garbage brand." Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: Are you optimistic that developed and developing countries can reach a meaningful agreement at Copenhagen?
Su Wei: I've always been optimistic. We're making efforts for a fruitful result at Copenhagen, and that should not be difficult if there is enough political will. However, climate change isn't a problem that can be resolved within one or two years; it's a long-term task.

Is there enough political will within China's government?
The Chinese government has been paying a great deal of attention to the climate-change issue in recent years. The country has set up a climate-change leading group headed by Premier Wen Jiabao, and the Chinese government's attitude is serious. According to our plan, by the end of 2010, energy consumption per unit of GDP should be lowered by 20 percent compared with 2005. China's greenhouse-gas emissions will not increase endlessly; there will be a peak. When that peak will occur depends on many factors. However, I personally believe China's emissions will stop increasing by 2050. If everyone discharges an average per capita amount of 10 tons of carbon dioxide [as they do in] the United States, the earth will come to an end.

In parts of Guangdong province, authorities are reportedly turning a blind eye to the pollution produced by some export manufacturers so long as they can keep employing workers. Has the global financial crisis hurt environmental protection efforts?
In the implementation of the financial stimulus policy, we've given serious consideration to whether projects with high pollution levels and high emissions should be allowed to operate. Our plan in combating the crisis is consistent with promoting energy conservation, emissions reductions, and environmental benefit. In the plan we allocated $713 million for environmental protection, improvements in energy saving, and projects related to emissions reduction and developing renewable energy. This is quite a big proportion of the $590 billion stimulus package.

Can China avoid making the environmental mistakes that developed countries such as the U.S. made as they industrialized?
If developed countries say that they didn't [industrialize] the right way in the past—and that developing countries shouldn't follow in their footsteps—there's certainly some logic to that. China will not follow a pollution-intensive path, but it also faces limitations. This is why developing countries raised the question of developed countries providing financial and technology support to developing countries. There is the problem of basic survival needs. If a man doesn't have enough to eat or survive, how can he think about environmental protection? Maybe developed countries don't agree with this. But at the beginning stages of economic development, people have to think about survival first and environmental issues second.

China may be making some of the same mistakes as Americans in at least one respect: their love affair with cars. More and more Chinese are buying them.
Everyone is seeking better living standards, and they have the right to seek them. The question is how to provide better guidance.

Shanghai residents have to pay a lot of money for car licenses, much more than in other cities. Is this a viable method for limiting vehicle ownership?
Ordinary people would be the ones to feel the pinch in the end. Rich people wouldn't be restricted because they have money.

What is China's plan for developing renewable energy such as solar?
China is No. 1 in the world for hydropower, and for the scale of nuclear power-plant construction. A big wind-power plant also is starting operation in Gansu, with the ambition of having a wind-power equivalent of the Three Gorges hydroelectric dam. According to the 11th five-year plan, renewable energy should reach 10 percent [of total energy resources] by 2010, and we've already attained 8 percent by 2008. The target for solar energy is 15 percent by 2020.

A Chinese firm has agreed to acquire the Hummer brand from General Motors, though the deal requires authorization from the Chinese government. Will the NDRC agree to it?
I don't know; I'm not privy to that [decision]. However, it's not simple for an enterprise to acquire a garbage brand such as Hummer.

Some Chinese people seem to be infatuated with Hummers.
I heard that one family organized a wedding in Chengdu that mobilized more than 100 Hummers [as the wedding motorcade]. Some people like the Hummer because they're rich. Maybe this is a cycle, and those people will realize eventually that the car is too costly and causes too much pollution. When Chinese get rich, some of them like to show off. I don't think it's necessary to drive such big cars simply for transportation. As a matter of fact, I think it's better not to produce big cars with engines bigger than 2.0 liters. The earth belongs to all people, and all should have the sense and responsibility to protect the earth.