The central government's goal of reducing energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by 4 percent annually may fail this year after the index rose 0.8 percent in the first half of the year.
Meanwhile, sulphur dioxide discharge in 17 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities increased by 6 percent in the first six months, according to a report delivered to top legislators by Director of the National Development and Reform Commission Ma Kai on Friday.
Urban fixed-assets investment, mainly in energy-intensive industries, jumped 31 percent during the first seven months of the year, according to the report.
To help save energy, some high energy-consuming industries, such as steel, non-ferrous metals, chemicals and construction materials, will have to pay more for electricity, according to the top economic planner.
A thousand such enterprises will be required to upgrade their technology to save energy.
Ma also called for stricter enforcement of environmental impact assessment in economic development, which has been neglected by some grass-roots governments.
The market entry threshold for high energy-consuming and polluting industries would also be raised.
"Environmental protection will be a major issue in approving new projects this year," he said.
China's energy consumption per 10,000 yuan (US$1,200) of GDP in 2005 was 1.43 tons of standard coal, times more than some developed countries such as the US and Japan.
The country's 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) calls for a 20 percent reduction in the amount of energy use for one unit of GDP by 2010.
The plan was adopted by the annual plenary session of the National People's Congress (NPC) in March. This is the first time that China has fixed an energy-saving goal in a legal document, according to Li Tieying, vice-chairman of the NPC Standing Committee.
Li reported on the implementation of the Energy-Saving Law on Friday to the ongoing session of the NPC Standing Committee.
"If we could achieve our goal for energy consumption in 2010, at least 620 million tons of standard coal would be saved," Li said.
He urged governments to take the lead in energy saving.
Li recommended the adoption of a system of consumption tax collection on resource products like coal.
China is seriously short of energy and resources. Per capita reserves of oil and natural gas are only 8 percent and 7 percent of the world's average.
(China Daily August 26, 2006)