BEIJING Aug 8 Most of China's provinces are
ahead of schedule or on track to meet 2015 energy savings
targets, the government said on Friday, with Beijing and
Shanghai among the frontrunners as the world's No.2 economy
seeks to reduce its impact on the environment.
China has pledged to reduce its energy intensity - the
amount of energy it uses to add a dollar to its gross domestic
product (GDP) - to 16 percent below 2010 levels by 2015.
Beijing's intention in setting the targets was to slow
emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases and cut expensive
fuel imports, but they have won new relevance with the pollution
crisis that has enveloped the nation the past two years.
The central government has distributed the cut targets in a
10-18 percent range across the provinces.
Data released by China's top economic planner the National
Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) showed that 26 of 30
regions had achieved more than 60 percent of their targets by
the end of last year. No overall number for China was given.
Yang Fuqiang, an environmental expert with U.S.-based
nongovernment agency Natural Resources Defense Council, said
China would meet its 2015 target.
"But for the (following) five-year period, there is not much
that can be done to improve end users' efficiency, other than
clean up the entire energy mix," he said.
Amid a slowing economy and rising public anger over
pollution, China has in recent years closed down thousands of
old, inefficient coal plants and stamped out overcapacity in
iron, steel and cement production.
The north-eastern province of Jilin had already achieved
more than its 16-percent target, while Sichuan (96.5 pct),
Chongqing (94.5 pct) and Beijing (91 pct) were also
over-achieving, according to the NDRC data.
Shanghai and manufacturing hub Hebei, both with 82 percent
of their targets met, were also ahead of schedule, along with
Henan and Hunan. Most others had achieved 60-80 percent.
The data also confirmed concerns that some of China's
pollution is being moved to the poor, western interior.
Energy intensity in the troubled Xinjiang province worsened
by 200 percent over the period, a trend NDRC attributed to a
boom in new energy-intensive projects.
Qinghai and Ningxia, also western provinces, were trailing
far behind their targets as local economic development relies
heavily on coal.
"Those regions are given looser investment restrictions in
building new coal-burning generators ... (to) give room for
economic growth to catch up with the richer regions in the
east," said Li Yan, a climate and energy expert with Greenpeace.
"More developed regions must cap their coal use to
reconstruct their economies and energy mix, but that acts as a
catalyst for coal industries in the west to expand their
production to fill the gap," she told Reuters.
(Reporting by Stian Reklev and Kathy Chen; Editing by Tom