China failed the first test in its goal of meeting ambitious
energy-saving and environment-protection goals in the current
The target set for last year was to reduce energy consumption
per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by 4 percent and pollutant
emissions by 2 percent, but only Beijing and five other provinces
or municipalities, which were not named, reportedly made the
It wasn't revealed how much off the target the overall
"From a nationwide perspective, it's certain that last year's
energy-consumption reduction goal couldn't be achieved," Han Wenke,
director of the Energy Research Institute affiliated to the
National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said
The goal set for the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) was to reduce
energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20 percent as well as key
pollutant discharges by 10 percent.
But the report card for last year was dismal according to
figures for the first half of 2006 with energy consumption per unit
of GDP actually rising 0.8 percent. Figures for the whole year
aren't yet available.
Ma Kai, minister of the NDRC, admitted last December that "it is
extremely hard to achieve this year's goal," citing a failure to
optimize the industrial structure in a short time and a lack of
Ma also warned of a possible failure this year with
energy-guzzling and heavily-polluting industries continuing to be
The State Environmental Protection Administration said there may
have been a 2 percent increase in both chemical oxygen demand (COD)
-- a key index of water quality -- and emissions of sulfur dioxide
But Zhou Dadi, former director of the Energy Research Institute,
was optimistic. "Though the goal was not achieved a good foundation
has been laid with unprecedented attention paid to energy
conservation," he said.
Zhou said the "inertia" of an unbalanced economic growth
pattern, which relied excessively on high-energy-consuming and
heavily-polluting industries to drive up the GDP, and poor energy
conservation technologies were behind the failure.
All 31 provinces and municipalities had impressed upon local
governments and key enterprises the need to meet the green targets,
the NDRC said.
Zhou suggested a holistic approach to energy conservation as
well as using the carrot-and-stick method such as special funds or
a resources tax.
(China Daily January 10, 2007)