Energy consumption per unit of GDP last year fell for the first time since 2003, according to official figures - in a clear signal that conservation measures are beginning to pay off.
Despite 11.1 percent GDP growth last year, energy consumption per unit of GDP fell by 1.33 percent for the whole year, compared to a 0.8 percent rise in the first half. Energy usage was 9.61 percent higher than in 2005.
The encouraging news was repeated in the first five months of the year, with energy consumption per unit of GDP falling a significant 2 percent over the same period last year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said yesterday.
The economy is growing in a way that is less wasteful and less damaging to the environment, NBS head Xie Fuzhan told a press conference.
The decreases, however, fell short of meeting the national goal of a 4-percent drop.
The country has set a target of 20 percent reduction in energy consumption per unit of GDP from 2006 to 2010, roughly equivalent to 4 percent each year.
"The situation will add to the pressure (on reduction of energy usage) in the coming years," Xie said.
Except Beijing - which saw a drop of 5.25 percent last year - all provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions failed to meet the 4-percent goal. But 17 saw figure drop by more than 3 percent.
Economic restructuring remains slow and the service industry - which consumes less energy - has lagged behind energy-guzzling heavy industries, which is the main reason for the failure to meet energy targets, Xie said.
China has implemented a series of measures to cut energy consumption, such as abolishing tax rebates for export of high energy consuming products, but it will take time for impact to be felt, Xie said, adding that distorted energy prices are also a factor.
The ineffective legal framework and lack of consensus among different regions and departments are also an important reason, Xie said.
Northwest China's Qinghai Province registered the highest energy consumption per unit of GDP, with the index rising by 1.51 percent, according to the NBS. All the 29 other provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions witnessed a drop.
Figures for the Tibet Autonomous Region are not yet available.
"The energy mission is tough but not impossible. We can definitely achieve the target if the whole country makes greater efforts," Xie said.
(China Daily July 13, 2007)