China's Energy Efficiency Improves in Q1

Country cut average energy consumption by 2.9%

China cut average energy consumption by 2.9% on year in the first quarter, as a major stimulus package helped save energy while maintaining economic growth, the government said on April 29.

The decline of energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product in the first three months was larger than a drop of 2.6% recorded in the same period last year, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

However, total energy consumption increased by 3% on year in the first quarter, the bureau said.

The Chinese economy rose by 6.1% on year in the period despite the global downturn as the $586 billion stimulus package unveiled in November kicked in. "(The data) showed the central government's stimulus package to tackle the international financial crisis has maintained growth and helped economic structure adjustment, energy saving and pollution reduction," the statement said. When China launched its stimulus package, government officials said the money would not be spent on projects demanding a lot of energy.

Another factor was the rising share of the service sector in the overall economy, up 1.6 percentage points in the first quarter, while industry fell 1.9 percentage points.

China has set a goal of reducing average energy consumption by 20% from 2006 to 2010. In 2008, average consumption was down 10.1%from 2005 levels.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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