China Power Plant #2
A worker pulls a cart in front of the smoking chimneys of a power plant in China's Anhui province. The Chinese government on Wednesday announced new limits on growth in energy consumption as part of a broader effort to reduce the country's greenhouse gas emissions. Reuters

Energy-hungry China says it will reduce its coal consumption and use more renewable energy by the end of the decade. Officials on Wednesday announced new limits on growth in energy consumption as part of the nation’s broader effort to reduce pollution that hastens global warming.

By 2020, China’s energy consumption must be no more than 28 percent higher than the 2013 level, according to a development plan issued by China’s State Council. That target represents about a 33% reduction from the rise in energy use over 2006 to 2013, federal statistics say, Bloomberg News reported.

Officials released the plan a week after President Xi Jinping announced that China’s carbon dioxide emissions would peak by 2030 at the latest, though it didn’t say at what level. The goal marked a major shift for the Chinese government, which for years has steered clear of any commitment that might limit industrial growth and energy production.

China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases and the largest energy consumer, with coal supplying about 66 percent of its total electricity needs. The United States, by comparison, gets about 39 percent of its electricity from coal.

China’s new targets would limit growth in coal consumption to 16 percent by 2020. The environmental group Greenpeace said the target was too lenient, and should only allow 8 percent growth, the Associated Press reported.

“It’s not a very progressive situation. We have more potential to even move further down,” Li Shuo, Greenpeace East Asia’s senior climate and energy officer, told the AP.

Under the development plan, China would get less than 62 percent of its energy from coal by 2020. Renewable and nuclear power would account for 15 percent of energy consumption, while more than 10 percent would come from natural gas.