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Beijing Takes Energy Lead
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Beijing's publication of its energy and water consumption statistics is expected to trigger an energy-saving contest among all local governments across the country.

Four departments of the Beijing municipal government jointly announced last week that the capital had reduced consumption of energy per unit of GDP by 8.5 percent year-on-year in the first quarter.

The capital's total consumption of energy inched up 3.7 percent to 14.5 million tons of standard coal equivalent. But due to the rapid growth in local gross domestic product (GDP) in excess of 13 percent, Beijing's energy efficiency in the first three months of this year has exceeded all expectations.

The central government has made a 4-per-cent cut in the country's overall energy intensity this year as the first step towards achieving one of the key goals of the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) - lowering consumption of energy per unit of GDP by 20 percent in five years.

A successful start means a great deal in terms of the fulfillment of the country's energy-saving goal which, in itself, requires a fundamental change in the country's growth model. Shifting from the energy-hungry pattern of extensive economic growth is crucial to the country's balanced and sustainable development in the coming decades. And concrete efforts by local governments are vital to meeting this national goal.

The municipal government in Beijing has set an example for other local governments to follow.

Although Beijing's results have yet to be verified by national officials, the publication of these figures in itself is a badly needed boost to the nation's energy-saving drive.

All the major first-quarter statistics about the national economy have been in the public domain for almost one month, but no official account of energy efficiency had been given until Beijing presented its figures.

Difficulties arising in the collection of such extra information may partly explain why many local governments have yet to issue their energy efficiency figures.

The other possible reason may be that the results are not as good as local officials had hoped.

After all, national statistics indicate that electricity generation grew 11.1 percent and coal output shot up 12 percent, both outpacing GDP growth in the first quarter of the year.

While developed areas such as Beijing witness improved energy intensity, some other regions have failed to make more efficient use of energy.

Given their differences in industrial mix, financial strength and technological prowess, many local governments can hardly work as effectively as the Beijing municipal government in raising energy efficiency while maintaining growth momentum.

But they should still be urged to publish their energy-saving results as promptly as Beijing has done.

(China Daily May 23, 2006)

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