Five regions criticized for failing to rein in energy consumption and emissions
China's top environmental watchdog has made high-carbon projects a major target of its central environmental inspection, according to reports on inspection tours to five provincial-level regions.
The word lianggao, which means high energy consumption and high emissions, shows up in all five regional reports, which were unveiled over the weekend by the Office of Inspection at the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.
The report for Jiangxi province, for example, asked it to "make accelerated efforts to optimize industrial structures and energy mix to curb haphazard development of lianggao projects".
"With low awareness of high-quality development in some departments, some areas fail to effectively contain lianggao projects," it said.
Launched in 2016, the central environmental inspection teams are usually led by retired ministry-level officials. The inspectors report to a central leading group headed by Vice-Premier Han Zheng.
The Office of Inspection urged Jiujiang and Shangrao in Jiangxi to pursue a low-carbon approach to developing new projects.
The construction of a production line for raw materials used in cement with a daily capacity of 6,600 metric tons in Jiujiang, for example, was begun without passing energy conservation tests, it said.
The local development and reform commission failed in its supervisory responsibility by not stopping the project. Now partly completed, the production line has gone into operation.
Inspectors also found a "strong impulse" to launch lianggao projects in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.
"Due to the hazy understanding of some officials about high-quality development, the cities of Beihai and Fangchenggang in Guangxi raced to introduce a steel project, ignoring current industrial structures and planning," the office said.
It said some areas in the Guangxi cities of Baise, Liuzhou and Laibin had subsidized and supported lianggao projects for an extended period of time.
Baise, for example, still planned to add new aluminum oxide projects, despite energy consumption and carbon emissions per unit of GDP in the city soaring, instead of being brought down as required during the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) period.
Henan province was urged to speed up the phasing out of coking capacity as the province optimizes an industrial structure that in some areas is still dominated by smokestack industries.
With 4.8 million tons of new annual coking capacity planned last year, total coking capacity either in operation or under construction in Anyang, Henan, reached 10.2 million tons a year, far beyond the needs of the local steel sector, inspectors said.
The ministry said inspectors issued 17,700 environmental violation notices to local authorities for further processing after they completed their one-month inspection in the five regions early this month.
More than 2,400 companies have been punished for violations and total fines stand at almost 187.7 million yuan ($29 million), it said, adding that over 1,000 officials have been held accountable.