Some local governments are investing heavily in high resources
consuming sectors, ignoring the central government's decision to
save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, National
Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) officials said
Failure to meet the central government's green targets, the
officials fear, could "indirectly hinder social harmony".
"The central government is committed to achieving the (green)
targets but some local governments have turned a blind eye to
them," He Bingguang, deputy director of an NDRC department, said at
an energy saving forum in Beijing.
The official of NDRC's Resource Utilization and Environmental
Protection Department didn't name the wrongdoers, though.
Eight State Council inspection teams recently found some local
governments had been giving preferential treatment to steel, cement
and other high energy consuming and polluting industries despite
the top leadership's repeated warning that "they are overheated and
should be brought under control".
Local officials prefer such projects because they not only raise
their areas' economic output, but also help them get promoted, He
China needs "systematic reforms" to realize its goals of cutting
energy consumption per 10,000 yuan ($2,470) of GDP by 20 percent
during the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10).
For instance, apart from the economic growth rate, achievements
in energy saving, environmental protection and social development
should also be used to assess the performances of Communist Party
of China (CPC) and government officials, He said.
The central government's "unshakable commitment" to saving
energy and cutting emissions is a "political mission", he said.
Last month, the State Council set up a group, headed by Premier
Wen Jiabao, to oversee national efforts in energy efficiency and
reduction in greenhouse gas emission.
"The highest leadership has realized that if we fail in this
endeavor, social harmony could be affected," said He.
Some experts, however, said the "vicious circle" of development
is already threatening social harmony. The economy is still growing
at a blistering pace as proved by its 11.5 percent rise in first
half of the year.
Dai Yande, deputy director of NDRC's energy department, said
China's runaway growth has come at the cost of high power
consumption, especially coal that accounted for nearly 70 percent
of the country's total energy supply. That has created a lot of
nouveaux riches in the coal mining sector in North China.
Dai's study has found coal-mine owners to be the driving force
behind rising property prices in cities such as Beijing and
Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province.
"These nouveaux riches have invested a lot in the property
market, partly helping propel real estate prices in the past
several years," Dai said. "We don't see any sign of the realty
market cooling down partly because of their buying spree."
The income divide could widen further, Dai warned, because the
value of their property has been increasing by leaps and bounds.
"From this point of view, energy consumption has its special social
implication in China."
(China Daily July 23, 2007)