China earmarks $5.9 billion for environment

China plans to spend 41.8 billion yuan (US$5.9 billion) to promote energy saving and emissions cuts in 2008, the finance ministry website was quoted as saying on Monday.

The ministry of finance plans to spend 27 billion yuan (US$3.8 billion) this year on reducing pollution and saving energy. In
addition, the central government will earmark 14.8 billion yuan for environmentally friendly construction projects, the China Daily said.

"This year is crucial for accomplishing the targets for energy use and pollution cuts during the 2006-2010 period," read the statement.

Zhang Shaochun, vice minister of finance, commented that the government is working on a long-term mechanism to support and improve
energy saving and emissions cuts, including research into market-based mechanisms.

China has set a target to reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP of 20% by 2010.

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