China energy regulator pledges to improve after scathing govt audit

Vehicle drive amid the heavy haze at night in Beijing, China January 18, 2020. REUTERS/Jason Lee

SHANGHAI, Sept 1 (Reuters) - China's energy regulator has promised to learn from its mistakes and improve its planning and policy making after a central government inspection team said it had failed to meet state environmental protection requirements.

The National Energy Administration (NEA) was accused by an inspection team in January this year of prioritising energy supply as well as the profits of energy enterprises over the protection of the environment.

The inspectors said the NEA had failed to control new coal-fired power capacity or complete new power transmission projects designed to curb pollution in smog-prone regions like Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei or the Yangtze river delta.

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In a detailed "rectification plan" published late on Tuesday, the energy regulator promised to "thoroughly investigate shortcomings" uncovered last year.

It said it would also keep provincial-level energy planning under tighter control and supervision, make sure key state energy transmission projects were completed as soon as possible and revise laws and regulations to help meet climate goals.

As well as specific lapses on issues like renewable energy, environmental inspectors said the NEA had not been properly guided by President Xi Jinping's "Thought on Ecological Civilisation".

The NEA, which has been mired in a series of corruption scandals since it was established in 2008, promised in its Tuesday response to "unswervingly carry out" Xi's thoughts and instructions.

Since Xi came to power in 2012, environmental compliance has become a key part of his efforts to strengthen his leadership, enforce political loyalty and extend the role played by the Chinese Communist Party in the economy.

China is also using its role as host of a global biodiversity summit in October to promote "Xi Jinping Thought" overseas, with his environmental slogans included in a draft summit declaration issued to international parties last week. read more

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Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Stephen Coates

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