China is taking serious measures to curb its energy usage by investing in energy efficient vehicles and shutting energy-intensive factories across the country.
Over 2,000 steel mill, cement works and other energy-intensive factories have been ordered to close down by the end of September. This announcement comes on the heels of another made by the powerful National Development and Reform Commission last week, which forced 22 provinces across China to stop providing discounted electricity to energy-intensive industries such as aluminum production.
Energy efficiency has become increasingly important in Chinese economic planning. The nation’s current five-year plan targets 20% less energy usage per unit of economic output this year compared with 2005.
However, high industry output since last winter has driven China’s energy consumption to sky-high levels, producing the single largest surge ever of greenhouse gases by a single country. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), China surpassed the United States last year to become the world’s largest consumer of energy after becoming top global carbon emitter in 2006. These rankings, combined with continued high expectations for economic growth, lead many to doubt China’s ability to meet its stated energy intensity goals.
Nevertheless, China is forging ahead with plans for major new investment in energy efficiency, including $15 billion into energy efficient vehicles. $8 billion of this proposed funding would be set aside for development into pure energy efficiency techniques. The remaining funding will be funneled towards infrastructure construction, potentially including electric vehicle charging station.
China is currently pushing to put 4 million eco-friendly vehicles on its roads by 2012.