BEIJING -- Under heavy pressure to harness rampant energy consumption, China's top legislature on Wednesday began deliberating a draft amendment to the law that suggests work carried out by local government officials in energy conservation should be integrated into the assessment of their political performance.
The draft amendment to the Law on Conserving Energy, tabled to lawmakers for the second reading on Wednesday, bears several revisions and changes in wording from the first reading in June this year.
"The way in which energy saving goals are accomplished will be made a part of the performance rating of local governments and their leaders," says the draft amendment.
Local energy saving standards in the construction industry must be stricter than those set by the central government and industrial associations as energy saving on buildings is closely related to the local geographic situation, according to the draft.
Relevant local standards "must be sent to the relevant cabinet departments for the records," the draft added.
"Revising the current energy saving law is necessary and the draft amendment is basically practicable," said the legal committee under the National People's Congress in a written explanation.
Under a five-year plan to 2010, China pledged to cut energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by 20 percent, or four percent each year. But, the consumption actually fell by just 1.23 percent last year.
The draft, which almost doubles the articles of the original, details measures to avoid energy waste, improve energy efficiency and cut pollution emissions.
It says Chinese cities will gradually replace antiquated central heating with modern household heating systems that can be individually regulated.
Official statistics show that construction accounted for 27.5 percent of China's total energy consumption in 2005, transportation 16.3 percent and government buildings 6.7 percent.
China has built 1.06 billion square meters of energy efficient buildings, but the figure represents only seven percent of the total floor space of existing buildings in urban China, statistics from the Ministry of Construction show.
Other energy-saving measures include strict control of the indoor temperature of public buildings and restrictions on decorative lighting for large buildings.
The State Council, the cabinet, in early June issued a circular, ordering the temperature of all air-conditioned public rooms in government buildings to be kept at no lower than 26 degrees Celsius.
The draft also says that the Chinese government encourages the development, production, selling and use of environmentally-friendly vehicles and new types of automobiles propelled by new clean fuel, in an effort to save energy and cut emissions.
The draft amendment is likely to be put to the vote at the five-day session.