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The State Council told civil servants to go without cars, lifts and air conditioning today as part of an ongoing weeklong national energy-saving campaign. 

Zhou Qing, a spokesman with the National Development and Reform Commission said yesterday:  "All of us have been urged to leave our cars at home on Tuesday and we're encouraged to walk or take public transport to work.”

In Zhou's office building in western downtown Beijing, posters with slogans like "please walk up stairs to keep fit and save energy" adorn the walls beside the lifts.

And temperatures will rise in the offices of the nation's top economic planning authority today as the air conditioning shuts down for the 24 hours. "We hope our individual actions will help solve China's energy shortage," said Zhou.

Following in the commission's footsteps, nearly all government departments and agencies in Beijing have ordered their employees to follow suit.

This week's energy-saving campaign, launched by the central government, also asks staff to turn off lights when leaving the office and install energy-saving light bulbs.

The Government Office Administration of the State Council said it was critical to improve energy-saving awareness among public servants as they were some of the biggest power users.

China's nearly 7 million public servants reportedly use almost 5 percent of the country's annual electricity which is enough to meet the demands of 780 million farmers.

"We have a lot of room for improvement in electricity efficiency in lighting, air conditioning, computers and other office equipment," said Jiao Huancheng, director of the government offices administration. "Public servants at central government level should set a good example."

Experts warned that the campaign should not become a "one-day show" and called for energy saving to become part of everyday life.

"Saving energy and resources is a long-term task which calls for more than one-off measures," said Lin Yueqin, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He said consistent and systematic policies and laws were needed to encourage efficient use of energy and resources.

(China Daily June 13, 2006)

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