The mainland falls far short of its own target in an anti-pollution campaign that has been billed as the country's battlefield in fighting global warming. Mainland analysts and officials said the nation's inability to meet the interim target of cutting energy use has further aggravated the difficulties in honouring Beijing's global commitments on tackling pollution and climate change. Industry and Information Technology deputy minister Lou Qinjian said the country had failed in recent years to reduce energy use per unit of gross domestic product by at least 4 per cent a year, Xinhua reported. 'In the first three years of the 11th five-year plan, China did not meet the proposed goal of improving energy efficiency and cutting pollution,' he told an industrial seminar in Guangzhou over the weekend. Even so, his remarks were questioned by environmental authorities, who insisted the country had made tremendous progress in pollution control and was well ahead of its plan. The mainland, widely believed to be the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, set ambitious targets three years ago as part of a five-year plan to cut energy consumption by 20 per cent and two key air and water pollutants by 10 per cent before the end of next year. Wang Jinnan, chief engineer of the Chinese Academy of Environmental Planning under the Ministry of Environmental Protection, said Mr Lou's remarks had misled the public. 'We have updated figures of pollution reduction, which show our progress in controlling emissions of acid rain-causing sulfur dioxide and chemical oxygen demand [COD], a key measure of water pollution,' he said. He referred to the data that Premier Wen Jiabao cited at the annual session of the National People's Congress last month as a major achievement in protecting the environment and dealing with climate change. Mr Wen announced that COD had been cut by 6.6 per cent and sulfur dioxide emissions by nearly 9 per cent compared with the 2005 figure, and energy use per unit of GDP had dropped by 10 per cent, only halfway to the 2010 target. According to Hou Shiguo, a deputy chief of the industrial policy department at Mr Lou's ministry, over-reliance on heavy, polluting industries and the global financial crisis have impaired the government's efforts to improve energy efficiency. 'With the economic downturn, authorities are struggling to keep a balance among a high GDP growth rate, boosting domestic demand and conservation concerns,' he said. Analysts said the mainland's lagging behind its own energy efficiency target has put it in a difficult position ahead of a conference in Denmark in December, which will aim to find a new climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol after it expires in 2012.