New government blueprint to save energy
Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and China's State Council call for drive "to build a resources-saving society" focusing on renewable energy sources.

Beijing (AsiaNews/SCMP) – China's energy woes are structural and not related to the hot summer weather, said Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and China's State Council.

Both recently appealed to the Chinese public to reduce energy consumption and promote renewable energy.

Wen's Monday appeal that "[w]asting is shameful, [and] saving is honourable, was followed by a blueprint for a nationwide drive "to build a resources-saving society" that would make greater efforts to conserve energy across the entire economy, from heavy industry to farms to homes.

The blueprint signalled some important initiatives, including reform of the price structure of resources to encourage conservation, streamlined financial and taxation policies and resource-friendly regulations.

The government's guidelines are not limited to the summer season but for all future planning for national economic and social development. In fact, concerns over the energy crisis are not limited to summer blackouts but extends to the country's future energy needs that underpin its future industrial development.

Yang Chunping, director of the National Development and Reform Commission's Management Research Centre, said the blueprint showed the central government was extremely concerned about energy shortages.

If nothing is done, the mainland could face an energy shortage equivalent to at least 2 billion tonnes of coal a year by 2050 unless it tried to curb demand.

Some forecasts warn that the country will only be able to supply less than half of its petroleum needs from domestic sources by 2020.

Mr Yang said that the central government was extremely concerned about energy shortages, and was keen to change the public's perception of the problem.

"Changing people's notion of energy saving in their daily life is very important as the first step in promoting a resources-saving society," he said.

Mr Yang stressed that the government's aim was to reduce energy consumption, promote energy conservation and boost sustainable energy development.

He noted that the blueprint's comprehensive guidelines were the result of research by academics in a wide range of fields over the past few years that had been studied by the State Council.

"We are telling the citizens that everyone has the obligation to contribute to the building of a resources-saving society—every small thing in their daily life does matter," he said.

For instance, it is recommended that air conditioners not be set at less than 26 degrees Celsius in government offices and meeting rooms.

Architects in Beijing and Tianjin are urged to design buildings with a view to cutting energy consumption by 65 per cent. Elsewhere, a 50 per cent energy saving standard will suffice.

Overall, the State Council calls for saving water, speeding up the replacement of water pipes, promoting recycling, and enhancing public transport systems.

In rural areas, water-saving irrigation systems must be introduced, land should be used more intensively, and the use of new energy sources such as marsh gas, straw, excrement should be explored.

The industrial sector should also promote energy saving and focus on developing alternative energy sources (hydraulic, wind, solar, biological) that allow for sustainable development.