March 6, 2015 / 11:12 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-China to reduce coal consumption, lessen pollution - ministry

(Adds more details, background)

BEIJING, March 6 (Reuters) - China will reduce coal consumption and boost energy efficiency as part of efforts to lessen air pollution, according to an action plan released by the government on Friday.

The world’s top consumer will cut coal consumption by over 80 million tonnes by 2017 and more than 160 million tonnes by 2020 through efficiency measures, under the 2015-2020 plan from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

China’s annual coal consumption, at about 3.7 billion tonnes, accounts for roughly 66 percent of the country’s energy demand.

The coal-dominated energy mix in China has been identified as a major cause of the hazardous smog that frequently shrouds cities such as Beijing and Shanghai as well as a significant source of climate-warming greenhouse gases.

China aims for a reduction of dust emissions by 500,000 tonnes and sulfur dioxide by 600,000 tonnes by 2017, according to the plan.

China is trying to strike a balance between improving its environment and restructuring away from an economy dominated by energy-intensive industries such as steelmaking.

Premier Li Keqiang told the annual session of parliament that the government planned to cut the country’s energy intensity, the amount of energy used per unit of GDP growth, by 3.1 percent in 2015, compared with a 4.8 percent fall in 2014.

Li made fighting pollution a priority and is striving for zero growth in coal consumption in key areas of the country.

By 2020, emissions of dust would be cut by 1 million tonnes and sulfur dioxide by 1.2 million tonnes, the ministry said.

China will accelerate the elimination of outdated capacities and update technology and standards to boost usage efficiency in coal-intensive sectors, covering coking and industry boilers, it said. (Reporting by Niu Shuping, Judy Hua and Nicholas Heath; Editing by Dale Hudson)

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