Cabinet members are being urged to lead by example in the country's quest to increase energy efficiency and control carbon emissions.
The State Council's Government Office Administration (GOA) said yesterday that official state vehicles should be evaluated for fuel efficiency, especially in the wake of the current energy crunch.
In an effort to curb government fuel costs, at a time when oil prices are rising worldwide, the administration has submitted a package of relevant proposals to the central government.
"We are going to reveal the detailed measures soon after approval from the State Council, and (then we will) accept supervision from the public," Xun Huanzhong, deputy director of the administration, said.
The GOA is responsible for the management of government properties, including buildings and cars.
"Cabinet departments should take the lead in these endeavors," he said. "We are going to focus on fuel conservation by vehicles this year."
No detailed statistics on total government fuel usage are available.
However, market data has shown that in the past three years, at least 10 percent of automobile sales in China can be attributed to government purchases. In general, spacious and luxurious automobiles manufactured by foreign companies have been preferred.
China's target, stipulated in the most recent Five-Year Plan, is to increase energy efficiency by 20 percent per unit of GDP between 2006 and 2010.
However, as Premier Wen Jiabao said last week, progress toward this goal was slow in 2006 and last year.
This means officials must redouble their efforts in coming years.
"We have been faced with the challenging task of saving energy for the coming three years," Wen said.
Increasing energy efficiency will also help to control carbon emissions.
Since 2005, the government has instituted a range of measures to conserve energy.
These include using energy-efficient light bulbs and curbing air conditioning usage in government buildings during the hot summer months.
Meanwhile, officials have been encouraged to forgo their jackets and ties during meetings.
Recently, the GOA proposed that government procurement policies place a greater emphasis on evaluating the fuel efficiency and emissions standards of automobiles.
An official from the Ministry of Science and Technology said: "It's an efficient way to foster our own brand and encourage innovation."
(China Daily June 19, 2008)