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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 seventh is to carry out the target responsibility system related to energy saving and environmental protection, with focus on establishing a scientific, complete and unified index of energy saving and discharge reduction, as well as an inspection system and an examination system.

These policies will likely curtail the growth of enterprises with high energy consumption, said Zhou Dadi, a research fellow with the Energy Research Institute of the National Development and Reform Commission.

Given the country's current industrial structure, a 1.3-percent drop of energy consumption per 10,000 yuan of the GDP can be realized on condition that the proportion of added value of hi-tech industries rises by 1 percent and that of high energy-consuming sectors like metallurgical and chemical industries falls by 1 percent, said Xie Fuzhan, Director of the National Bureau of Statistics.

As a result, Xie has predicted that the coming years will see more distinct results in China's energy conservation and environmental protection with the strengthening of technological innovation and the quickened pace of industrial restructuring.

These measures can also pose a concern to some people, among whom is Wang Weicheng, a deputy to the National People's Congress, who warned that the acceleration of China's industrialization and urbanization may further sharpen the contradiction between the demand and supply of energy in urban areas.

The per-capita housing in China's urban areas is expected to surge by nearly 30 percent to 26 square meters in the next five years and that in rural areas will grow by 20 percent to 30 square meters. The number of airconditioners owned by every 100 urban households will increase by 2.6 times to 81 sets and that of sedans owned by every 100 urban households will rise by 6.7 times to 3.4 units. This will lead to a robust jump of high energy-consuming products like cement, steel and glass.

The building industry is a high energy-consuming sector, with its energy consumption accounting for 25 percent of the national total. In addition, 90 percent of China's existing structures are high energy-consuming buildings. All this poses a great challenge to China in its effort to meet the goal of cutting its energy consumption by 20 percent.

Coal consumption in China in the next five years is required to increase 300 million tons only to accomplish the national economic plan for 2006-2010, which aims to keep a 7.5-percent annual GDP growth and cut energy consumption per unit of the GDP by 20 percent.

But, in fact, coal consumption may amount to 1 billion tons during this period according to China's current demand for energy, even if the government closes down or discards backward productivity and intensifies energy saving and environmental protection measures. "This poses the greatest challenge to China's endeavor to lower energy consumption," Wang added.  

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