By Daniel Mark Carr
In the latest crackdown on China’s increasing energy use, the Chinese government has ordered more than 2,000 highly polluting, unsafe or energy inefficient plants to ‘shut down’ within the next two months… but the good news is not all as it may seem.
It was only two weeks ago that we reported how the Ministry of Environmental Protection was set to close 468 outdated and inefficient power generators across China. Now, in a further push to fulfill the requirements of China’s environmental ‘5 year plan’, the government has expanded its ‘closure’ order to over 2000 factories.
But, this seems to be mostly bravado. Sorry to rain on everyone’s parade!
Over the weekend, The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology did publish an order for 2,087 companies to curb “backward production capacity”. Unfortunately, a complete shutdown of all 2,087 factories is not on the cards. As WSJ reports:
“Contrary to some reports, the government didn’t order 2,087 entire factories to close. In fact, the MIIT’s list is generally quite specific about which equipment in which factory should be eliminated.”
In fact, there are only a dozen or so factories listed for full closure, which, when placed in the context of China’s 426,000 plus industrial enterprises, is really a small drop in the ocean.
Environmental campaigners are, however, still welcoming this measure. Surprisingly, it looks like the MIIT are taking this seriously: they have a number of sanctions lined up for the rest of the violating enterprises. Implementation of those sanctions will be vital if China is to achieve its target of using 20 percent less energy this year for each unit of economic output than in 2005.
The 5 year plan did seem to be going well with energy efficiency improving by 14.4% in the first four years of the plan only to be set back by a deterioration of 3.6% in the first quarter of this year.
So for now, let’s hope that every pollution cloud has a silver lining.