"Energy policemen" are to patrol shopping malls and office buildings in Beijing in a bid to improve energy efficiency.
Complexes with indoor temperatures set too high in winter or buildings having lights on in the daytime will receive fines from these officers over the first half of this year, according to Zhang Mao, vice-mayor of Beijing.
Zhang said the municipal government would soon recruit more than 20 dedicated workers to supervise energy efficiency in the city. Supporting regulations will also be made to facilitate the law enforcement.
"We have been advocating energy saving for years but it has remained only a slogan because of a lack of a supervising system," Zhang said at a session of the municipal people's congress on Sunday.
He added "the energy policemen" would have sufficient authority to order bosses to carry out their instructions and to issue penalty notices.
In the past, violators were not obliged to abide by similar instructions, Zhang said.
Last summer, city leaders advised large buildings to keep air-conditioning temperatures above 26 C to save electricity.
Beijing sets "building a resources-saving society" as a major goal in its draft of the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10).
The city plans to reduce the energy and water consumption per 10,000 yuan (US$1,233) GDP by 15 per cent and 20 per cent respectively, by 2010 compared with 2005.
Beijing currently consumes 0.81 standard tons of coal and 51 cubic metres of water per 10,000 yuan GDP, already much lower than the national average level, according to the Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform.
Huang Qian, an official with the commission, said new investment projects that would consume 2,000 tons of standard coal per year or above would have to pass an energy-saving assessment before they could be approved by the municipal government.
He added the government would create a special fund for the construction of a resources-saving city.
The money would be released to develop new technologies of energy saving, renewable energy and comprehensive utilization of rubbish.
Cao Xuekun, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Committee (CPPCC) of Beijing, said the government should first try to reduce energy consumption in industrial production, which is much larger than that of the city's residents.
"The government must set strict standards for raw material, energy and water consumption before it gives licences to new factories," Cao said.
"Besides, the government should set examples of saving for the citizens by reducing unnecessary administrative expenditure as much as possible."
(China Daily January 18, 2006)