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Come Clean on Energy Saving
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Beijing municipal government should involve the public in its energy-saving campaign, says a commentary in Beijing News. An excerpt follows:

On July 1, designated as energy-saving day by Beijing municipal government, many departments took steps to this end some turned off their lifts, some high-ranking officials went to work by bus or bicycle and some set their air conditioners to a higher temperature.

As a matter of fact, the municipal government launched its energy-saving campaign last June. This was against the backdrop of an electricity shortage in Beijing during the summer.

By setting the first day of July as an energy-saving day, the government demonstrates strong determination in this regard.

Apart from this day, many government branches have taken measures to cut their energy consumption.

However, Beijing municipal government's energy-saving efforts remain far from adequate. By keeping these energy-saving policy and measures within government offices, it has ruled out the possibility of public participation.

As long as most people remain unaware of either the methods used or how much energy has been saved thanks to these efforts, they will not have enough reason to follow suit.

It is therefore important to offer more public access to the government's energy-saving measures.

Such public access should include detailed information about the energy consumption of government offices, before and after the introduction of the energy-saving policy.

A survey of 48 government branches in Beijing in 2004 revealed that each civil servant consumed three times more electricity and seven times more water than the average local resident.

After the publication of energy consumption figures, civil servants whose departments failed to come up to scratch in terms of energy saving would have to behave in a more environmentally friendly way.

If government departments have managed to save large amounts of energy, then such good examples would encourage the public to do likewise.

The government should also make arrangements to facilitate public supervision in this regard, such as inviting non-governmental organizations to monitor its energy-saving efforts.

(China Daily July 10, 2006)

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