China to unify energy laws: energy basic law expected within two years

Energy policies must be integrated under energy basic law: State Council official
Conservation laws no longer meet country’s development needs: NPC Standing Committee
Public opinion sought for the first time

BEIJING, June 13 — China’s four energy laws will be unified under an energy basic law within two years, legislators said Tuesday. The law would incorporate experiences of other countries, including the Energy Policy Act of 2005 of the US, said an official.

In its first public discussion of the proposed law, reported on Xinhua, the office of the energy leading group under the State Council disclosed how the legislation would affect government policy and national energy use in the years ahead.

The Chinese government has set the goal of reducing national energy consumption by 20% in the five-year period from 2006 to 2010.

But the improvement of China’s economic structure depended on improving its energy structure, which required integrated energy policies, said the official.

China now has four specific energy laws, covering the coal industry, electric power, energy conservation and renewable energy as well as local rules and regulations on energy and myriad environmental laws and regulations.

However, the country has yet to officially legislate on petroleum and natural gas, and has no overall energy basic law.

Without a basic law and a complete energy law system, China needed to rely on “inconsistent and unstable” policies to solve its energy problems, said the official.

The government launched the draft work of the Energy Law in January with the establishment of a drafting group drawn from 15 state ministries or institutions. In May, the Energy Leading Group and the National Development and Reform Commission began a survey on proposals and suggestions to the energy law through the Internet and newspapers across the country.

The surveying will continue until December – it is the first time the government had solicited public opinions on such a large scale before drafting an important law, said Wang Mingyuan, associate professor of the Center for Environmental, Natural Resources and Energy Law of Tsinghua University.

It showed the importance the government attached to the law and the great public significance of the energy basic law, said Wang.

Meanwhile, the Vice Chairman of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, Li Tieying, said that the current energy conservation law no longer meets the country’s development needs.

Li said that changing the focus of economic development from energy and resources consumption to energy saving will have a profound effect on relations between people, society and nature.

The NPC Standing Committee enacted the Energy Conservation Law of China in November 1997. It governs the administration of energy, the proper use of energy resources, promotion of energy-saving technology and protection of the environment.

Preparations for the new consevation law began In May, when the NPC dispatched teams to inspect the implementation of the Energy Conservation Law in selected provinces and regions. It sent five teams to 10 provinces and regions. Work units with an annual coal consumption above 10,000 tonnes and energy conservation in big cities were to be inspected with a revision of the 1997 law in mind.

China’s energy sector faced severe challenges posed by rapidly rising consumption and a growing gap between supply and demand, said NPC Vice Chairman Wang Zhaoguo at the first working meeting of the inspection teams, in mid-May.

The purpose of the inspections was to raise awareness of energy conservation, support and push the government to fulfil its responsibilities, and improve management and working mechanisms, as well as to identify problems and raise suggestions for amendments to the 1997 Energy Conservation Law, Wang said.

About James Ockenden (300 Articles)
Writer, journalist and sustainability consultant with a passion for clean technology and public health. 25 years covering power and energy markets: former editor of Power Plant Technology, International Power Generation, Asian Electricity, Aircraft Economics, Energy Risk, Asia Risk, Benchmark; writer for South China Morning Post, Cathay Dragon's Silkroad, APlus, Veolia's "Planet", Hong Kong Tatler; founder of Blue Skies China. MSocSc in Corporate Environmental Governance, University of Hong Kong; BA & MA degree in Natural Sciences (major in Materials Science & Metallurgy), Cambridge University.
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