China May Spend $373 Billion for Energy Savings, Emissions Curbs

China, the world’s biggest generator of greenhouse gases, estimated it may spend 2.37 trillion yuan ($373 billion) on projects for conserving energy and reducing emissions in the five years through 2015.

The nation plans by 2015 to reduce the amount of energy it uses to produce every unit of gross domestic product by 16 percent from 2010 levels, the State Council said in a statement late yesterday. In the five years through 2015, the world’s second-biggest economy is aiming for energy savings equal to 670 million tons of standard coal equivalent energy, it said.

China has sought to increase energy efficiency and improve environmental conditions as the three decades of expansion that boosted the size of its economy more than 90-fold also fueled public outrage over a surge in pollution. Economists including those at the International Monetary Fund have also recommended spending on environmental protection as a way to support growth as the European debt crisis saps demand for China’s exports.

“The environmental protection industry is one of the few areas that have good growth potential in China as the government is increasing investment,” said Wei Wei, an analyst at West China Securities Co. in Shanghai. “Stocks in the sector will do well in a scenario where most industries are slowing down.”

The estimated spending in the period during the so-called 12th five-year plan will be for key energy-saving, emission reduction and recycling projects, the State Council said.