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China on the way to going green
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Although China is moving forward on the road to energy conservation, it still has a long journey ahead if it is to hit the five-year goal of reducing energy intensity by 20 percent, statistics reveal.

Figures from the National Bureau of Statistics, National Development and Reform Commission and National Energy Administration showed that in 2007, the country consumed 1.16 tons of coal equivalent when it produced 10,000 yuan of GDP, a 3.66 percent year-on-year decrease.

Compared with 1.226 tons of coal equivalent per 10,000 yuan of GDP, which was set as base year for the country's 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10), China reduced by 5.7 percent, failing to reach the expected average level of 8 percent.

"The figures can prove China's stout efforts in improving energy efficiency, but it still remains hard for it to hit the goal, because the economic structure is difficult to change in the short term," said Zhuang Jian, senior economist with the Asian Development Bank in Beijing.

Besides giving an overall picture, authorities also released energy consumption results in 2007 by provinces.

Beijing took the lead in developing a sustainable mode, as it burned the least amount of coal equivalent, 0.714 tons for 10,000 yuan of GDP last year, a 6.04 percent year-on-year reduction. However, Hainan, which has its economy pillared by tourism, sat at the bottom of the list. It reported a slight 0.8 percent cut.

Authorities have implemented a system where local officials are held accountable for the performance in energy efficiency and environmental protection, marked against the targets that the government sets.

The central government asked local officials to lower energy consumption per unit of GDP by 4 percent annually until 2010.

"The assessment index should be flexible, not just focusing on the 4 percent annual goal," Zhuang said.

For example, although Hainan only reduced its energy intensity by 0.8 percent, its energy consumption per 10,000 yuan of GDP was less than 0.9 tons of coal equivalent, a very low level compared with other provinces. "Each province has a special industrial structure, which decides how much potentials it has to improve in energy efficiency," Zhuang said.

(China Daily July 15, 2008)

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