The central government is setting up an accountability system
under which officials' career paths will be tied to their
performance in environment protection and energy efficiency.
The move aims to steer the country toward a more
environment-friendly road to economic growth.
The State Council, China's cabinet, is working on the
"environmental veto system", under which green efforts will be a
decisive factor in determining the future of government and Party
officials, a senior policymaker told China Daily.
Previously, the assessment of officials focused on their
performance in areas such as economic growth, family planning and
The central government will demand full compliance with the
accountability system from heads of local governments and Party
committees as well as their deputies charged with energy
conservation and environmental protection, said He Bingguang,
deputy director of the resource utilization and environmental
protection department of National Development and Reform Commission
The system will help keep local governments in step with the
central government, which is "resolutely committed" to energy
conservation and emission control. China's goal is to cut its
energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20 percent and pollutant
discharge by 10 percent from 2006 to 2010.
The NDRC official declined to set a timetable for implementation
of the new official assessment system.
In early July, the official revealed, inspection teams from the
central government discovered that some local governments had kept
investing heavily in resource-intensive industries, ignoring
Beijing's call for the reduction of energy use and greenhouse gas
In fact, the official said, the central government started to
set targets for officials in 2006 - of lowering energy consumption
per unit of GDP by 4 percent annually till 2010.
However, a recent survey shows, except for Beijing, no
provincial government succeeded in delivering on the targets.
Taking that into consideration, NDRC has decided that officials
should be assessed on a five-year performance rather than in a
Environmental experts applauded the proposed "veto system" but
also warned that it might be hard to put into practice. "Local
governments face huge difficulties in saving energy," said Huang
Shengchu, head of the China Coal Information Institute (CCII),
affiliated to the State Administration of Work Safety. "The new
system will affect many officials if you are to measure their
performance by environmental targets. And there is a likelihood
that many of them would fail."
Huang, a senior researcher in work safety and coalmine gas
management, said the new system will demonstrate the will of the
central government but in practice, it may meet resistance.
Even though officials are asked to make a pledge on workplace
safety, major mining accidents have not been stopped, he said.
(China Daily July 31, 2007)