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UPDATED: March 19, 2007 NO.12 MAR.22, 2007
Eating Up Less Energy
Using too much energy in China is taboo, but stronger discouragement is needed

"The overly speedy energy consumption growth is a long-term concern of China," said Xu.

It is quite hard for China to come up with an immediate solution in energy consumption, said Lin Yifu, professor of economics with Peking University, echoing the opinion of Xu.

Energy consumption per unit of the GDP began to change substantially in the third quarter of 2006, with the first half of the year registering a rise of 0.8 percent and the third quarter seeing a start of decline, added Lin.

Sun Zhaoxue, member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), blamed the energy consumption problem on "government officials."

Some local officials don't have a scientific approach of development and even abused administrative power to safeguard pollution, thus resulting in the failure to implement the national policy of environmental protection. And some even bring in polluting enterprises or fail to examine them in accordance with the index of energy consumption reduction out of sake for their careers, Sun pointed out.

Although some local governments have formulated methods of examination, they undertook lax enforcement and supervision, favoring the form only instead of the substance, said Sun.

The Chinese Government has taken environmental protection and resources conservation as a basic national policy, which is still far from taking a legal action. Administrative means are still employed to set targets of cutting energy consumption. The introduction of some polluting projects is therefore considered against the rules but not against the law, stressed Zhao Xizheng, a CPPCC member.

With administrative management replacing the law, the task of cutting energy consumption and reducing pollutant discharge cannot proceed in a continuous, steady and scientific manner, emphasized Zhao.

Harsh measures

Premier Wen Jiabao underlined seven aspects in which China will strengthen the efforts of energy conservation.

The first is to strictly carry out the criteria for energy consumption and environmental protection, which includes instantly evaluating new projects in energy consumption to prevent them from lacking environmental protection. This also includes closing down enterprises that fail to meet environmental standards.

The second is to discard the backward productivity.

The third is to put environmental cleanup emphasis on key industries, such as steel, coal, chemical, building materials and building industries, as well as large enterprises that consume over 10,000 tons of standard coal annually.

The fourth is to set up a complete energy conservation and environmental protection policy system.

The fifth is to quicken the progress of technology of energy conservation and environmental protection. This includes pressing ahead with equipment innovation and technical reform targeting energy saving.

The sixth is to intensify law enforcement, supervision and administration, with severe penalties imposed on offences against the law and rules.

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