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Chinese Premier: energy saving, pollution control targets must be met

Staff, Xinhua News
BEIJING, March 5 (Xinhua) — Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao vowed Monday at the legislature that the government will meet the energy saving and pollution control targets between 2006 and 2010 despite last year’s setback.

The Chinese government set the goal of reducing energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product by 20 percent and major pollutants discharge by 10 percent in the Eleventh Five-Year Plan. Wen said in a report on the work of the government at the opening meeting of the fifth full session of the tenth National People’s Congress that China’s energy consumption per unit of GDP in 2006 went down 1.2 percent, and oxygen chemical demand and sulfur dioxide emission rose 1.2 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively.

He addressed the 2,890 deputies that the country fell short of the targets set at the beginning of last year for cutting energy consumption per unit of GDP by four percent and discharge of major pollutants by two percent. “The targets can’t be revised and we must work resolutely to reach them,” Wen said. ..

Wen also said the government plans to shut down small coal-fired power plants with total electricity generating capacity of 50 million kilowatts between 2006 and 2010 and shut down outdated production facilities in steel, cement, electrolytic aluminum, ferrous alloy, coke and calcium carbide industries.

Zhu Hongren, deputy director of the economic operation bureau at the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said China’s current extensive economic growth has gone beyond the bearing ability of the environment and resources. “We are left with no other alternatives but to meet the targets,” said Zhu.

Wen added the government will deepen the reform of pricing system for major resource products and charges for pollution emissions, improve the system of taxes on resources and strengthen the compensation system for mineral resources exploitation. “It will take time for the relevant policies and measures to produce the desired results,” he said. ..
(5 Mar 2007)
See also China to promote ‘green’ autos.

Chinese Academy of Sciences suggestions on energy source development

..Regarding the development of petroleum substitutes, including fuels from non-conventional oil and coal, natural gas and biomass, the report makes the following proposals for action over the next five years:

1. Vigorously promoting the prospecting and assessment of China’s oil shale resources.

2. Deepening the research and development of key technologies that are directly or indirectly associated with liquefaction; providing support to the construction of demonstration plants with an annual production capacity up to one million tons of substitute fuels using the two technological alternatives, with a view to gaining experiences for industrial application of the production technologies.

3. A scientific verification on gasoline and diesel substitutes in an all-round manner should be completed as soon as possible. Also in need is the encouragement given to the technologies using cellulose and semi-cellulose as raw materials for ethanol production. Research should be conducted into the breeding of fast-growing energy-rich plants in desert and desolate areas that can provide biomass for bio-ethanol and bio-diesel manufacturing. Furthermore, efforts should be made to develop mass production bases for those fuels without the occupation of farmlands.

4. Continuously promoting industrialization of the production of bio-ethanol and bio-diesel from biomass.

First of all, positive efforts should be made to promote the adoption of new power systems for the automobiles, which are good at energy saving and diversified for energy sources. Priority should be given to electrified power systems with zero discharge of exhaustive gases. There is the need to vigorously carry out the research and development of highly efficient, low-cost systems of fuel cells and lithium ion batteries. ..
(6 Mar 2007)

Giving up oil

Leader, The Guardian
Like eternal sunshine or perpetual motion, a world beyond oil is something that sounds delightful but implausible. Society has become so addicted to the black stuff that the habit seems permanent. But if that turns out to be true then all the bold talk about tackling change means little. Technologies such as carbon capture and fuel efficiency may reduce the harm that oil use causes – but any gains will be wiped out by economic growth around the world. As David Miliband argued in a speech yesterday, “the goal could not be clearer: for reasons of energy security and climate security, take the carbon out of our fuel supplies”.

That demands a transition as quick and massive as the shift from coal to electricity and oil at the start of the last century. In 1914 oil was only just beginning to emerge as a universal fuel; by 2014 it should, if Mr Miliband’s words mean anything, be in decline. Could it happen?

Politicians, in Europe at least, are beginning to act as though it might. Mr Miliband argues that the pressure to change will become unavoidable, not just because of climate change but because of uncertainty about where future oil supplies will come from. The North Sea, once Britain’s bright hope for a post-coal economy, has only a few years of large-scale production remaining.

But since oil is cheap and easy to use it will be incredibly hard to give up, especially since the biggest benefit of new fuels – lower carbon emissions – will be shared with future generations. Past changes in energy technology have made life easier for the people who use it; this switch might make things harder and more expensive.

That is why citizens, governments, international bodies and companies have to create the change together. The Stern report showed that the economics of limiting climate change are compelling, but markets will not find a solution on their own. Mr Miliband argues that the issue is one that only radical progressives, sensitive to the distribution of the costs, can tackle. “To be pro environment you have to be pro market solutions, you have to be pro government intervention and you have to be pro a Europe of reform and innovation,” he said yesterday,,,
(6 March 2007)

US Energy Department: Standard inertia

Editorial, Seattle P-I
With all the talk of global warming — “An Inconvenient Truth” even won an Oscar — it’s appalling where we are with our energy savings rules.

Lost track of that little issue, have you? Don’t fret. There’s not much to keep track of because the Department of Energy has done almost nothing on the matter, missing all 34 congressional deadlines for updating energy standards for appliances and household products.

The Government Accountability Office issued a report showing only 11 of the standards have been completed — two were less than a year late, four were one to five years late, five were as much as a decade late. The rest are incomplete, with a dozen being as many as 15 years past deadline.

Only after being sued by environmental groups did the Department of Energy agree to shake a leg and try to complete new standards for nearly 24 appliances in the next five years. The GAO figures that even if some deadlines had been met, Americans would save $28 billion in energy costs over the next 23 years. The Wall Street Journal reports that the DOE also wasted $10 billion from 1980 through 1996 on incomplete programs.

Apparently sheer inertia has kept DOE folks in their jobs, because we can’t imagine how the annual employee evaluations must go there, where the average salary for a midlevel engineer (one in the D.C. area) runs about $79,000 to $103,000, and supervisory positions start at around $110,000. Nice salaries. Maybe they’ll do more to earn them.
(5 March 2007)
It would be worth a reporter’s time to examine exactly WHY the Department of Energy fell down on the job. I think it is superficial to claim, as the Seattle P-I does, that it is a matter of employee incompetence. In my experience, agency staffs are often frustrated that they aren’t allowed to do their jobs; the problem is usually higher up. -BA

Renewable energy fight likely to set EU summit mood

Mark Beunderman, EUobserver
BRUSSELS – The question of whether Europe should commit itself to a binding goal on renewable energy is set to dominate EU summit discussions on climate change, with the German EU presidency also putting broader energy issues, bureaucracy-cutting and the Union’s 50th birthday declaration on the agenda. ..

Both Brussels and Berlin see it as crucial that the target should be binding for Europe to maintain its credibility on the world stage, with German chancellor Merkel stating on the eve of the summit that “I think the more we are able to set a good example, the more we can convince others.”

But France, Poland and a group of other new member states are strongly resisting mandatory targets.

Paris wants greater recognition of its own nuclear energy production – which it says is already “low carbon” and contributing to the fight against global warming – while post-communist EU states argue the 20 percent renewables goal is impossible to achieve for their economies which still need to catch up with the West.

EU diplomats have said one possible compromise would be an explicit mention in the conclusions of the need for fair “burden sharing” between member states, as any reduction on the 20 percent target would be seen as a painful defeat for Europe’s green credentials. ..
(8 Mar 2007)