China’s NDRC issues ‘barometer’ for Regional Energy Goals

China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) recently released a “barometer” to show regional progress toward energy conservation goals in the first half of 2011. While the 12th Five-Year Plan announced in March a goal of reducing energy intensity 16 percent by 2015, more detailed plans as to how this overall target is being allocated to provinces has yet to be released, although recent reports suggest that these details will be revealed soon.

(See ChinaFAQs post “China Moving Forward on 12th Five Year Plan Climate and Energy Implementation; Targets, Taxes, Emissions Trading Plans in Development”).

While this is not the first such barometer (previous versions here and here), this is the first official information I’ve seen regarding provincial progress toward energy targets for the 12th Five-Year Plan. The first paragraph describes the purpose of the barometer to “supervise and urge” (督促) the energy savings projects and work implemented at the provincial level. They attempt to do so by using the energy savings per unit GDP achieved during the first half of this year to forecast how provinces are progressing toward 12th Five-Year Plan targets.

The barometer provided by NDRC (the English version by me is pictured below) is divided into three time periods: the first quarter of this year; the first half of this year; and finally a forecast as to the progress of each province or municipality toward the 12th Five-Year Plan energy savings targets. Of course, we have no indication of whether the predictions in the last column are toward each province’s individual target or the overall 16 percent reduction target. No data are available for Tibet, and no raw numbers are available to determine how each province was classified into each color class.

Table 1. Barometer of completion of regional energy goals for the first half of 2011. Original version here: http://www.ndrc.gov.cn/xwfb/t20110729_426427.htm.

According to the Barometer’s predictions for progress toward the 12th Five Year goals, 10 regions (Inner Mongolia, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Henan, Hainan, Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia, and Xinjiang) have first-degree warnings, where the “energy saving situation is very serious.” Hebei, Fujian, Hubei, Guangdong, Guangxi, and Shaanxi have second-degree warnings, where the “energy saving situation is grim.” Beijing, Tianjin, Shaanxi, Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Shanghai, Anhui, Shandong, Hunan, Chongqing, Sichuan, Guizhou, and Yunnan are said to be “basically smooth” in terms of their energy savings progress.

Despite 14 provinces appearing to be “smoothly” on their way to meeting energy targets, the report concludes that progress on energy conservation so far is grim (“节能工作形势严峻.”). However, with no data or actual numbers provided, it is difficult to determine how the NDRC arrived at this grim conclusion or their predictions. Particularly in the case of Henan, whose progress went from green or “basically smooth” in the first quarter of 2011 to “very serious” later in the year, the NDRC predicts its current trajectory toward 12th Five-Year Plan targets is still very serious. Similarly, Zhejiang is second-degree through the first half of the year, only to be given a first-degree warning in the forecast.

While the national plans to be released should provide greater clarification on provincial energy savings targets, Chinese experts from the NDRC have suggested that such targets could be structured into five groups based on economic development and energy intensity savings achieved in the 11th Five-Year Plan:

Tianjin, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Guangdong would be assigned an intensity reduction target of 18%; Beijing, Hebei, Liaoning and Shandong a target of 17%; Shanxi, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Anhui, Fujian, Jiangxi, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Chongqing, Sichuan and Shaanxi an energy-saving target of 16%; Inner Mongolia, Guangxi, Guizhou, Yunnan, Gansu, Ningxia Province, a target of 15%; Hainan, Tibet, Qinghai, Xinjiang a target of 10%.

From these target allocations, it appears that some more developed municipalities Tianjin and Shanghai with the highest reduction targets are on track; while Jiangsu and Zhejiang may be struggling. At the same time, Hainan, which is in the group with the lowest reduction targets, has not been performing well so far and may fall further behind. It will be interesting to see how this Barometer’s predictions align with the specifics provided in the forthcoming detailed energy and carbon reduction plans. Earlier this year, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) wrote a piece analyzing provincial energy target allocations.

Alternatively, this Barometer could be a simple “scorecard” to do what it says – a way to signal to provincial leaders who may be falling behind on energy savings projects to get back on track.

This post originally appeared on Angel Hsu’s blog on August 9, 2011.

Image copyright Mark van Laere and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License.