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Local Authorities Blamed for Bad Energy Efficiency
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Rapid economic growth means the country is not going to meet its energy efficiency targets this year, a top energy official warned yesterday.


In the first six months of the year China's GDP (gross domestic product) expanded by 10.9 percent, and high energy consumption industries such as construction and chemicals have grown rapidly as well, said Yu Cong, research professor and director of the Energy Efficiency Center at the National Development and Reform Committee (NDRC).


Local officials still pursue a high GDP growth as their political objective and neglect energy efficiency targets set by the central government, according to Yu.


"All these negative facts make the 4 percent cut in energy consumption impossible," she said.


During the 10th Five-Year Plan period (2001-05), China's elasticity of energy consumption, an indicator to show the relationship between the growth rate of energy consumption and the growth rate of the national economy, exceeded 1, the same rate as the United States during its economic development peak.


"It is hard to lower the elasticity ratio below 1 in the short term," Yu said.


China's 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) calls for overall consumption of energy per unit of GDP to be cut by 20 percent in five years, which is an achievable and practical goal, according to Yu.


"But there is a flaw in the plan," said Yang Fuqiang, chief representative of the Energy Foundation in Beijing. "Every county should be committed to energy saving, something that was neglected by the central government during policy making."


After months of investigation in Shanxi, Shandong and Guizhou provinces, Yang found that a lot of high energy consumption projects were approved and launched by county level governments.


"Although central and provincial governments keep energy efficiency in mind, it is still useless if China's numerous counties do not make efforts."


To allow the public to supervise their local government, a list measuring how much energy was consumed per 10,000 yuan (US$1,250) of GDP in 2005 per province was released this month.


Guangdong was the most economical province, using 0.79 tons of standard coal last year for every 10,000 yuan of GDP


The Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in Northwest China was the least efficient, consuming 4.14 tons of standard coal to produce the same amount of GDP.


(China Daily July 20, 2006)


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