Soaring oil prices worldwide and increasingly serious pollution
caused by inefficient use of energy is apparently strangling
China's economic development and social progress.
In such circumstances, never before has the central government
felt the necessity of enforcing a tough measure to rid local
governments of their hesitancy in fulfilling the energy-saving
quota as required by the national development plan.
The scheme designed by relevant central government departments
to assess how localities fulfill their quotas of saving energy and
reducing the discharge of pollutants was adopted by the State
Council on Friday and will be carried out from next year. The
scheme sets scores for provincial, autonomous regions, municipality
governments as well as major State-owned enterprises.
They are required to report to the central government how they
have completed their energy saving quotas and how well they have
carried out the required measures for doing so. The panel will then
calculate the score a local government will get. The leaders of
those getting a score of less than 60 are likely to lose their
The country's 11th Five-Year-Plan (2006-10) requires that the
consumption of energy per unit GDP should be reduced by 20 percent
and the total amount of pollutants discharged by 10 percent.
However, the consumption of energy per unit GDP was reduced by
just 1.23 percent and pollutants discharged increased last year. In
the first six months of this year, the per unit GDP energy used was
reduced by 2.78 percent compared with the same period last year
while pollutants discharged started to decline.
The new assessment scheme will make local governments realize
how important energy saving should be on their agendas. The central
government means it this time as the scheme stipulates that local
leaders must be held accountable for failing to fulfill their
What is worth mentioning is the stipulation that local officials
will be seriously dealt with if cheating is discovered in the
reported statistics, and those who are held directly responsible
will likely be put in jail.
With the central government's resolve to realize the
energy-saving goal, we have reason to believe the new assessment
scheme will shift the attention of local governments from economic
growth only to sustainable, environment-friendly development.
(China Daily November 26, 2007)