Beijing's publication of its energy and water consumption
statistics is expected to trigger an energy-saving contest among
all local governments across the country.
Four departments of the Beijing municipal government jointly
announced last week that the capital had reduced consumption of
energy per unit of GDP by 8.5 percent year-on-year in the first
The capital's total consumption of energy inched up 3.7 percent
to 14.5 million tons of standard coal equivalent. But due to the
rapid growth in local gross domestic product (GDP) in excess of 13
percent, Beijing's energy efficiency in the first three months of
this year has exceeded all expectations.
The central government has made a 4-per-cent cut in the
country's overall energy intensity this year as the first step
towards achieving one of the key goals of the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) - lowering
consumption of energy per unit of GDP by 20 percent in five
A successful start means a great deal in terms of the
fulfillment of the country's energy-saving goal which, in itself,
requires a fundamental change in the country's growth model.
Shifting from the energy-hungry pattern of extensive economic
growth is crucial to the country's balanced and sustainable
development in the coming decades. And concrete efforts by local
governments are vital to meeting this national goal.
The municipal government in Beijing has set an example for other
local governments to follow.
Although Beijing's results have yet to be verified by national
officials, the publication of these figures in itself is a badly
needed boost to the nation's energy-saving drive.
All the major first-quarter statistics about the national
economy have been in the public domain for almost one month, but no
official account of energy efficiency had been given until Beijing
presented its figures.
Difficulties arising in the collection of such extra information
may partly explain why many local governments have yet to issue
their energy efficiency figures.
The other possible reason may be that the results are not as
good as local officials had hoped.
After all, national statistics indicate that electricity
generation grew 11.1 percent and coal output shot up 12 percent,
both outpacing GDP growth in the first quarter of the year.
While developed areas such as Beijing witness improved energy
intensity, some other regions have failed to make more efficient
use of energy.
Given their differences in industrial mix, financial strength
and technological prowess, many local governments can hardly work
as effectively as the Beijing municipal government in raising
energy efficiency while maintaining growth momentum.
But they should still be urged to publish their energy-saving
results as promptly as Beijing has done.
(China Daily May 23, 2006)