BEIJING - China's
government plans to pour billions of dollars into
special projects to help meet the country's
energy-saving targets. Local officials are also
about to come under increased pressure to toe the
government line to meet the targets, otherwise
their political futures could be in jeopardy.
A top official from the National
Development and Reform Commission (NDRC)
reaffirmed China's commitment to cutting energy
use and emissions on making a report to the Standing
Committee of the National
People's Congress on Sunday.
to cut energy use," Ma Kai, the NDRC minister
said. "If we don't hasten our pace, it will be
difficult to meet the targets this year."
In the second half of the year, a special
fund of 7 billion yuan (US$921 million) will be
allocated for 10 major energy reduction projects,
including new illumination equipment,
reconstruction of fire tube boilers, reuse of heat
and the development of petroleum substitutes.
Another 2.5 billion yuan will be used to
develop marsh gas facilities in the rural areas,
and some 4 billion yuan for the construction of
sewage treatment plants in cities.
the central government will also issue compulsory
energy consumption standards for 22 products such
as steel, cement, caustic soda and thermal power
by the end of the year. NDRC figures show that the
country's energy consumption per unit of gross
domestic product (GDP) dropped 2.78% in the first
six months from the same period a year earlier.
However, the government has set the target
of reducing energy consumption per unit of GDP by
20% between 2006 and 2010, or an annual decrease
of 4%. But it fell only 1.33% last year from 2005.
China also failed to achieve its pollution
reduction goal, with major pollutants, including
sulfur dioxide emissions and chemical oxygen
demand (COD) both increasing last year.
addition, official figures also show that sulfur
dioxide emissions dropped 0.88% to 12.63 million
tons in the first half of the year; but COD
emissions still grew 0.24% to 6.91 million tons
from 6.89 million tons. "We can find from the
figures that China is still facing serious
problems in saving energy and reducing polluting
emissions," Ma said.
The minister blamed
some local officials for dragging the rest of the
country down in not meeting the targets. He said
economic growth, especially the growth of
industries with high energy consumption and
emission of pollutants, was still too rapid, which
put more pressure on achieving energy-saving and
"A series of
environmental pollution accidents, such as the
outbreak of blue-green algae in China's major
lakes - Taihu Lake, Chaohu Lake and the Dianchi
Lake - this year have shown how difficult it is to
sustain economic and social development if the
energy-saving and discharge-reduction problems
cannot be solved properly," he said.
said some local governments still take economic
growth as the sole criteria for evaluating
officials' performances and they have not
introduced energy-saving into their evaluation
systems, which is the main reason for difficulties
in energy conservation and pollution reduction.
He said the assessments of officials in
many places still focused too much on their
performance in economic growth, and many cities
and counties still lacked concrete plans to cut
energy consumption. "We've paid too much attention
to economic growth," Ma said. "Serious
consequences are revealing themselves."