Energy saving became China

Energy saving became China’s hard fought goal
1.33 per cent dip is still far short of national target to cut energy use
BEIJING - CHINA yesterday reported it had scored a slightly bigger drop in energy usage last year than earlier thought, but admitted it is still struggling to meet ambitious energy-reduction goals.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said energy consumption declined by 1.33 per cent last year, instead of the 1.23 per cent that was previously announced.

Despite the slightly better showing, the fresh figure still falls far short of a national annual 4 per cent target to cut energy usage.

The Chinese capital Beijing, which will host the Olympic Games in August next year, cut its energy usage by 5.25 per cent last year. This was higher than the national target of cutting energy usage by 4 per cent annually.

China, which by some accounts has overtaken the United States to become the biggest producer of carbon dioxide in the world, has refused to accept mandatory caps on its emissions for fear of hampering economic growth.

But under international pressure to do more, and amid growing concerns at home about its deteriorating environment as well as heavy reliance on foreign energy imports, Beijing has pledged to help tackle climate change by checking its energy use.


The yearly goal is part of Beijing's plan to eventually cut energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20 per cent between 2006 and 2010 - or from the equivalent of 1.22 tonnes of coal per 10,000 yuan (S$2,000) of economic output in 2006, to 0.98 tonnes in 2010.

The bureau changed the figure following its revision of China's 2006 gross domestic product to 11.1 per cent, up from 10.7 per cent on Wednesday, said NBS director Xie Fuzhan at a Canton Fair press briefing to announce the updated statistics.

Ensuring that industry and households save and use energy more efficiently is becoming increasingly important to Beijing.

Beijing the only one to meet national target out of China's 31 provinces and municipalities, Beijing was the only one that managed to hit the annual energy- saving goal last year.

Premier Wen Jiabao, who has made environmental protection one of his main areas of focus, flagged twice this week his determination to achieve cuts and raise efficiency. Yesterday, Mr Xie said the 1.33 per cent drop in energy usage last year was a 'good trend', noting that it was the first time in three years that China had registered a cut in energy usage.

China's total energy consumption rose by 9.6 per cent last year to 2.46 billion tonnes of coal equivalent - the first time in three years it rose more slowly than the rate of economic expansion.

Figures for the first five months of this year showed that the downward trend would continue, but he acknowledged that 'the situation of energy saving and consumption reduction is still severe and the tasks are arduous'.

'It should be noted that at the current stage, the growth of high energy consuming industries is still fast,' Mr Xie said.

A reason why China keeps missing energy-saving targets is that it has been slow to raise energy prices and tax policies that encourage saving, said Mr Xie, adding that 'the pace of structural adjustment is just not fast enough'.

Separately, asked for an update on the calculation of a much-vaunted 'green GDP' for China - a measure that would account for the costs of environmental impact and resource consumption on traditional GDP - Mr Xie hinted that there could be a spanner in the works.

'I regretfully tell you that there is no international standard for calculating a 'green GDP' and no country in the world has done such a calculation. So it's really not for NBS to release such a statistic, since it doesn't exist,' he said.


(Source: Canton Fair News)

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