The central government is setting up an accountability system under which
officials' career paths will be tied to their performance in environment
protection and energy efficiency.
The move aims to steer the country toward a more environment-friendly road to
The State Council, China's cabinet, is working on the "environmental veto
system", under which green efforts will be a decisive factor in determining the
future of government and Party officials, a senior policymaker told China Daily.
the assessment of officials focused on their performance in areas such as
economic growth, family planning and workplace safety.
The central government will demand full compliance with the accountability
system from heads of local governments and Party committees as well as their
deputies charged with energy conservation and environmental protection, said He
Bingguang, deputy director of the resource utilization and environmental
protection department of National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).
The system will help keep local governments in step with the central
government, which is "resolutely committed" to energy conservation and emission
control. China's goal is to cut its energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20
percent and pollutant discharge by 10 percent from 2006 to 2010.
The NDRC official declined to set a timetable for implementation of the new
official assessment system.
In early July, the official revealed, inspection teams from the central
government discovered that some local governments had kept investing heavily in
resource-intensive industries, ignoring Beijing's call for the reduction of
energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
In fact, the official said, the central government started to set targets for
officials in 2006 - of lowering energy consumption per unit of GDP by 4 percent
annually till 2010.
However, a recent survey shows, except for Beijing, no provincial government
succeeded in delivering on the targets.
Taking that into consideration, NDRC has decided that officials should be
assessed on a five-year performance rather than in a single year.
Environmental experts applauded the proposed "veto system" but also warned
that it might be hard to put into practice. "Local governments face huge
difficulties in saving energy," said Huang Shengchu, head of the China Coal
Information Institute (CCII), affiliated to the State Administration of Work
Safety. "The new system will affect many officials if you are to measure their
performance by environmental targets. And there is a likelihood that many of
them would fail."
Huang, a senior researcher in work safety and coalmine gas management, said
the new system will demonstrate the will of the central government but in
practice, it may meet resistance.
Even though officials are asked to make a pledge on workplace safety, major
mining accidents have not been stopped, he said.
(China Daily 07/31/2007 page1)