China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Less focus on GDP, more focus on environment

BEIJING, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- China's top authorities will unleash a storm in government departments next year by obliging officials to control GDP growth and pay much closer attention to the environment.

officials should make protection of the environment a key priority. They no longer have to vie for GDP growth to the exclusion of all else. That is the message the Central Authorities sent during last week's national meeting mapping out economic policies for 2007.

Central Government listed eight economic priorities for next year, and environmental protection came in third place, just after economic macro-control measures and agricultural development.

officials) must understand the new priorities, take them on board and do everything they can to achieve a practical improvement in reducing energy consumption and pollution," a statement issued at the conclusion of the Central Economic Work Conference said in unusually stern language.

prevent further deterioration of the environment, China last year set an energy consumption reduction target of 20 percent in the five years from 2006 to 2010. The 2006 target is four percent down on the previous year.

officials have failed to fulfill the four percent quota this year. A survey conducted in the first half of the year found that energy consumption was rising instead of tumbling.

used the words "very hard" to describe the difficulties they are facing in reducing energy consumption to the target level.

economy is expected to steam ahead at more than 10 percent in 2006.

Central Government has decided to make the reduction of energy consumption and pollution the key to restructuring its economy in 2007.

energy consumption and pollution is the most effective approach to restructuring our economy and improving our economic efficiency," said Ma Kai, minister in charge of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

said the year 2007 will be vital to achieving the five-year target, and one that must yield visible results.

ensure that the correct signal reaches local officials, the NDRC will brandish its policy baton and intensify supervision.

NDRC said it will establish a set of mechanisms "as soon as possible" to set, evaluate, and monitor energy consumption reductions achieved by local governments and key state-owned enterprises, Xinhua has learned.

addition, the government will intensify supervision of key energy-consuming industries such as iron and steel, nonferrous metal, coal, electricity, petrochemicals, construction materials and those that consume more than 10,000 tons of coal a year.

for the establishment of high energy-consuming ventures will be made more restrictive, with the level of energy-consumption a key factor in determining approval by the NDRC.

energy consumers and big waste-emitters will have to pay more for water and electricity than normal factories next year, the NDRC said.

year's policy will be tougher than this year's, and implementation of the policy will be more forceful," said Wang Xiaoguang, an economist with the Economics Research Institute under the NDRC.

policy will contain specific details on energy consumption reduction and waste discharge targets, he said.

addition, the use of new environment-friendly technology will be encouraged. The Ministry of Commerce said imports of such technology and equipment will be expanded next year.

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