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Draft energy law raises hopes
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China's first energy law will turn out to be a "good, overarching" one governing the country's entire energy segment, judging from the current draft. So said legal and industry experts at a clean-energy dialogue in Beijing yesterday.


Charles R. McElwee, counsel of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP, said the draft version suggests the law would be effective in governing the energy industry and taking the country's energy segment forward.


The draft law addresses important issues, such as strategic oil reserves, McElwee observed. But in terms of renewable energy development and enhancing energy efficiency, it does not offer new legal support to the existing Renewable Energy Law and Energy Conservation Law, he said.


"A market-based pricing mechanism is necessary to speed up renewable energy development. So far, we have not witnessed strong legal support from the draft law addressing this issue."


Endorsing McElwee's views, US Commerce Assistant Secretary David Bohigian said the lack of a market-oriented pricing mechanism of major energy products in China is hindering the development of clean energy in the country.


Ye Rongsi, deputy chief of the Energy Law drafting team, had earlier told China Daily that the draft deals with major issues such as conservation, energy safety, market-oriented allocation, scientific and technological innovation, service and international cooperation.


The draft will highlight "unified administration" of the sector, but will stop short of spelling out the establishment of an energy ministry, Ye had said.


A ministry-level energy agency will help reduce the complications of multi-channel administration and streamline the government's approval process, McElwee said.


Hou Yanli, program officer of the China Sustainable Energy Program, said a streamlined energy administration will keep at bay problems of multi-agency governance and combine research and development work with commercial applications of renewable energy technologies and projects.


(China Daily January 10, 2008)

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