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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Une énergie nécessaire mais polluante

by D. B. Special correspondent

Nuclear Energy in China: Necessary but Polluting

Translated Saturday 8 December 2007, by Jonathan Pierrel

With its factories at full capacity, China is the top CO2 producer worldwide. China has committed to reducing its energy consumption by 20%.

Driven by its breathtaking economic growth with its factories at full capacity and a quickly expanding car market, China is progressively becoming the top CO2 producer in the world. However, Beijing considers that the countries primarily responsible for greenhouse-gas production are rich countries and, as a result, must lead the fight against gas emissions. “The critical principle is that developed countries and developing countries should have common but differentiated responsibilities,” said Liu Jianchao, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman.

“We don’t believe developed countries should impose compulsory goals on developing countries. China is determined to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent (per unit of GDP) to reduce carbon emissions in the next five years and will strive to keep carbon emissions at 2005 levels," said the Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

China remains a big consumer of fossil fuels. Eighty percent of its production comes from coal. Last year China produced 2.4 billion tons of coal which was not sufficient and had to import coal as a result. China is part of a cooperative effort with developed countries to have cleaner coal processing. Besides pollution, coal raises several delicate issues to Chinese authorities: security for one as hundreds or even thousands of miners are killed in accidents every year, and transportation as the mines are primarily located in the north of the country.

Three years ago, China decided to accelerate its “nuclear programme.” China has only 11 reactors, which amounts to 2% of the national energy production. Four of them, located in the south at Guangdong, use French technology. Two of them use Russian and Canadian technology, and three of them are Chinese, including the oldest reactor of the country. Ten or so are currently being built.

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