SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China is optimistic about hitting its 2015 energy-saving and environment goals, after data from the country's top economic planner showed it reduced energy consumption in the first quarter, the state-backed China Daily newspaper said on Friday.
"We are relatively optimistic about achieving the full year's target," Zhang Yong, vice-chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, was quoted by the newspaper as saying on Thursday.
Energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product fell by 5.6 percent in the first quarter compared to the same period last year, indicating that the full-year target of 3.1 percent was within reach, the newspaper said.
The country will ensure that it meets the 16 percent energy-saving goal for the 2011-15 period and may even exceed it, Zhang said.
But he added that efforts should not be relaxed as lower prices for fossil fuels such as oil could distract local government and entrepreneurs from saving energy.
The environment has become a priority for China's leaders as they try to reverse the damage done by decades of breakneck growth and ease public anger about the sorry state of the country's air, water and soil.
(Reporting by Brenda Goh)