China's increasing reliance on coal has been blamed for a 27% rise in emissions of sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain, since 2000, the Wall Street Journal reported. The total 25.5 million tons of sulfur dioxide produced last year is also 42% more than the government goal, set in 2000, of cutting emissions to 18 million tons a year. The figures were announced by the State Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) on Thursday as part of a government bid to be more transparent about China's environmental challenges. "If you bear in mind that there's been an 800-million-ton increase in [total] coal consumption" during the same period, said Li Xinmin, deputy director of SEPA's department of pollution control, "that 27% increase is still in effective control." SEPA insists that measures are being taken to ensure conditions will be suitable for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Li also rejected US media claims that China is responsible for up to 25% of the pollution in some US cities.