China's state assets watchdog has called on major state-owned firms to meet energy saving and pollution reduction targets a year ahead of schedule.
The 154 central state-owned enterprises (SOEs) with high energy consumption pollutant discharge levels must pledge to cut energy consumption per unit of industrial output by 20 percent and major pollutant emissions 10 percent from the 2005 level by 2010, according to the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC).
Huang Shuhe, SASAC's deputy chief, said the industries should strive to reach the compulsory target in 2009.
"The giant companies can serve as a catalyst for energy efficiency improvement and pollution reduction in society as a whole," Li Rongrong, SASAC's chief, told a meeting in Beijing on Wednesday.
"They are both the responsibilities and obligations of businesses. Whether or not they can meet the target has a direct bearing on the whole country."
The six industries of power, steel, oil and petrochemical, metallurgy, chemicals, and construction materials consume 70 percent of energy for industry and release the same percentage of sulfur dioxide.
China has set the target of reducing its energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product by 20 percent and of cutting total pollution by 10 percent between 2006 and 2010.
China's energy consumption per unit of GDP dropped 2.78 percent in the first half of 2007 from a year earlier. Meanwhile, its sulfur dioxide emissions fell 0.88 percent, but the chemical oxygen demand, which measures water quality, rose 0.24 percent.
"The SOEs should assign specific staff or departments to analyze and supervise their energy saving and pollution reduction practices and set up monitoring systems to prevent major energy waste and environmental degradation," Huang said.
The SASAC also ordered firms to step up efforts to develop and apply energy saving techniques and equipment and to abandon outdated production facilities.
The 30 most energy-consuming firms are ordered to report the data on the energy consumption and pollutant emissions quarterly, and 66 that consume less energy half-yearly and the other 58 yearly.
"Many SOEs have made progress in eliminating less energy efficient and highly polluting techniques and equipments in the past couple of years, but there are some that are still using them," Huang said.
The SASAC would also promote good energy saving and pollution reduction practices and report company officials who cause energy waste, serious environmental degradation or make false reports, said Huang.
(Xinhua News Agency August 31, 2007)