BEIJING, June 3 (Xinhua) -- Leaders of China's governments and major companies have been put on notice that energy efficiency and pollutant discharge reduction will be key factors in their performance assessments, the State Council, or cabinet, officially warned on Sunday.
Energy efficiency and pollutant discharge reduction should be set as indices for assessing economic and social development in all localities and the performance of government and company leaders, the State Council said in a circular.
They will receive a negative performance assessment if they fail to reach goals for energy efficiency and pollutant discharge reduction regardless of achievements in other fields.
Last year, the government set a goal to reduce energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by 20 percent and major pollutants discharge by 10 percent in the 11th five-year plan period ending 2010.
Under the goal, the nation must cut energy consumption per unit of GDP by four percent and discharges of major pollutants by two percent last year.
But the country fell short of the targets, said Premier Wen Jiabao in his government work report to the national legislature in March.
Nobody has been blamed nor taken responsibility for the failure.
The "excessively fast" growth of electricity, steel, nonferrous metals, construction materials, oil processing and chemical industries in the first quarter created difficulties in fulfilling the goal, said the circular on the government General Work Plan for Energy Conservation and Pollutant Discharge Reduction.
The six industries account for nearly 70 percent of the entire industrial sector's energy consumption and sulfur dioxide discharges, which grew by 20.6 percent in the first quarter, 6.6 percentage points higher than the same period a year earlier.
China has paid "a huge cost in terms of resources and the environment" for its rapid economic growth, and the people "have many complaints about environmental pollution", said the circular.
Meanwhile, greenhouse gas emissions have contributed to global warming and aroused great concern in the international community.
"Greater efforts for efficiency and discharge reduction are urgently needed to deal with global weather changes and a responsibility we should shoulder," it added.
"If we fail to take immediate measures to reverse the situation, it will be difficult for us not only to make obvious progress in energy saving and discharge reduction this year, but also to reach the overall goal for the 11th five-year plan period," the circular said.
To ensure energy efficiency and discharge reduction, the State Council issued the General Work Plan, asking all local authorities, government departments and major companies to report their own detailed plans before June 30.
Authorities and government departments should give priority to energy efficiency and discharge reduction, making them a major means to evaluate positive economic development, said the circular.
"We should make sure that the economy grows on the basis of energy and resource conservation and environmental protection."
The goal for energy efficiency and discharge reduction is an index to enhance government responsibility and "it is the government's solemn commitment to the people to reach the goal", it said.
Officials who violate laws and regulations on energy conservation and environmental protection will be prosecuted.
The circular also asked enterprises to pledge to the government that they will fulfill their goals for energy efficiency and discharge reduction.
Enterprises that illegally discharge pollutants will be fined heavily and their leaders and staff responsible will be prosecuted, it said.
The State Council has set up a leading group to oversee the national efforts for energy efficiency and discharge reduction.
Its major tasks are to make plans for energy saving and discharge reduction and coordinate help to resolve major problems arising in the process, said the circular, without naming the leading group members.
The office of the leading group will be in the National Development and Reform Commission. The State Environment Protection Administration is authorized to deal with issues related to pollution control and discharge reduction.
Major targets of China's energy efficiency work plan
The major targets of the General Work Plan for the year 2010 include:
-- Energy consumption per 10,000-yuan of gross domestic product reduced from 1.22 tons of standard coal in 2005 to below one ton, down by about 20 percent;
-- Water consumption per unit of industrial value added reduced by 30 percent;
-- Discharge of major pollutants reduced by 10 percent;
-- Discharge of sulfur dioxide reduced from 25.49 million tons in 2005 to 22.95 million tons;
-- Chemical oxygen demand (COD) reduced from 14.14 million tons in 2005 to 12.73 million tons;
-- The ratio of national urban treated sewage reaching at least70 percent;
-- The ratio of comprehensive utilization of industrial solid wastes reaching 60 percent or more.
Targets for this year:
-- Daily urban sewage treatment capacity increased by 12 million tons;
-- Daily recycled water utilization capacity increased by one million tons;
-- Capacity to reduce chemical oxygen demand (COD) increased by600,000 tons;
-- Putting into operation desulfurization units with a combined capacity of 35 million kilowatts;
-- Starting construction of coal gangue-fueled power plants with a combined generating capacity of five million kilowatts.
Targets for 2010:
-- Daily urban sewage treatment capacity increased by 45 million tons;
-- Daily recycled water utilization capacity increased by 6.8 million tons;
-- Capacity to reduce chemical oxygen demand (COD) increased by three million tons;
-- Putting into operation desulfurization units with a combined capacity of 355 million kilowatts;
-- Building coal gangue-fueled power plants with a combined generating capacity of 20 million kilowatts.