The career paths of government officials will soon be determined
by their ability to help the country meet its energy-saving targets
if the highest legislative body votes in favor of an
energy-efficiency law tomorrow.
The draft of the revised Energy Efficiency Law stipulates that
the ability of local governments and their chief officials to meet
energy-efficiency goals should be a key decider when higher-level
governments examine their performance.
The law, currently under second review by the Standing Committee
of National People's Congress (NPC), is likely to be put to a vote tomorrow
even though a draft law is normally only put to vote after the
Hu Guangbao, deputy director of the NPC's Law Committee, said
the law could create a better legal environment for efforts to
achieve sustainable development in energy-hungry China.
The evaluation system laid out in the draft is the latest
development in the struggle to meet the authorities' targets of
cutting the country's energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20
percent by 2010.
He Bingguang, an environment official with the National
Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said the draft law, if it
passes, will create a legal basis for the State Council's plan to
design an "environmental veto system", under which energy saving
will be a decisive factor in determining the futures of government
and Party officials.
The decisive factors in the current official assessment system
are economic growth, family planning and workplace safety.
He said China still faces many hurdles when it comes to energy
conservation despite government measures.
The government last year ordered officials to reduce energy
consumption per unit of GDP by 4 percent per year until 2010, and
provincial governors have signed agreements with the State Council
promising to meet the targets.
But a recent survey showed that except for Beijing, no province
had succeeded in meeting the promised cuts. Given that situation,
the NDRC has decided that officials should be assessed over the
course of five years rather than a single year.
To curb the preference of local governments for investments in
resource-intensive industries, the draft law also allows the
central government to come up with preferential financing, taxation
and industrial policies to save energy.
"China decided to satisfy its energy demand by saving and
exploring more resources," the draft says. "But energy conservation
is always the priority."
This year, the State set aside another 10 billion yuan (US$1.33
billion) to improve energy efficiency and cut pollution, bringing
the total amount of funds available for the purpose each year to
21.3 billion yuan. But NDRC Minister Ma Kai told the Xinhua News
Agency that "energy consumption is still in a grim situation".
(China Daily October 25, 2007)