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More Funds to Face 'Vital Situation': Minister
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The central government will pour billions of yuan into special projects to help meet the country's energy-saving targets.

Local officials are also about to come under increased pressure to toe the government line to meet the targets, otherwise their political futures could be in jeopardy.

A top official from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) reaffirmed China's commitment to cutting energy use and emissions when making a report to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress yesterday.

"We're facing a very vital situation to cut energy use," Ma Kai, the NDRC minister said.

"If we don't fasten our pace, it will be difficult to meet the targets this year."

In the second half of the year, a special fund of 7 billion yuan ($921 million) will be allocated for 10 major energy reduction projects, including new illumination equipment, reconstruction of fire tube boilers, reuse of heat and the development of petroleum substitutes.

Another 2.5 billion yuan will be used to develop marsh gas facilities in the rural areas; and some 4 billion yuan for the construction of sewage treatment plants in cities.

Ma said the central government would also issue compulsory energy consumption standards for 22 products such as steel, cement, caustic soda and thermal power by the end of the year.

NDRC figures show that the country's energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) dropped 2.78 percent in the first six months from the same period a year earlier.

However, the government has set the target of reducing energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20 percent between 2006 and 2010, about an annual fall of 4 percent. But it fell only 1.33 percent last year from 2005.

In addition, official figures also show that SO2 emissions dropped 0.88 percent to 12.63 million tons in the first half of the year; COD emissions grew to 6.91 million tons from 6.89 million tons, an increase of 0.24 percent.

The minister blamed some local officials for dragging the rest of the country down in not meeting the targets.

He said assessment of officials in many places still focused too much on their performance in economic growth, and many cities and counties still lacked concrete plans to cut energy consumption.

"We've paid too much to economic growth," Ma said.

"Serious consequences are revealing themselves."

(China Daily August 27 2007)

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