The State Council executive meeting on Wednesday put forward a
number of measures to cut the nation's energy consumption.
The meeting was held soon after the release of figures
indicating high gross domestic product growth (GDP) in the first
half of this year, signaling the central authorities' great concern
about the energy situation as the economy maintains its strong
Although the concrete figures are not available to the public,
it was revealed at the meeting that energy consumption growth
exceeded that of GDP in the first half of this year and energy
consumption per unit of GDP continued to rise.
The central leadership's worry is well justified now that the
growth momentum of energy consumption remains strong even after the
country set the goal of gradually reducing energy consumption by
As the first step, the country's 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) promised to
ensure that overall consumption of energy per unit of GDP would be
lowered by 20 percent within five years.
The goal for this year is to cut energy consumption per unit of
GDP by 4 percent. It appears to be very hard for us to meet the
target this year.
Admittedly, it is impossible to instantly stabilize high
economic growth and energy consumption. But if the trends continue
unchecked, it will be too late for us to act.
The fact that energy consumption outpaced GDP growth in the
first half of the year indicates that we were not fully prepared
when we drafted our new energy targets last year. What we do in the
second half of the year and the years to come will determine
whether we can achieve the goals set for this year and the 2006-10
The State Council meeting wrote out several good prescriptions.
These will help make up for the loss in the first six months if we
can translate them into real action.
One is to promote energy-saving industries, such as the tertiary
sector, and encourage enterprises to save energy.
It will take fairly long period of time to make that industrial
shift. And it is hard to make enterprises save energy if they
remain insensitive to energy prices. An energy price reform that
links energy prices more closely with market demand must be put in
place if we want that to work.
Another solution offered at the meeting is to include energy
consumption indices into the appraisal system for government
officials at all levels.
In this way, government officials would be forced to pay more
attention to energy saving efforts in their localities. They now
seem more interested in local GDP growth rather than energy or the
environment, which have little impact on their political careers.
The State Council needs to further define such rules to make it a
truly applicable policy.
(China Daily July 21, 2006)