China to close inefficient factories
Country attempting to make progress toward energy efficiency objective.
Tue, Aug 10 2010 at 8:07 PM
CARBON CRACKDOWN: China's government is shutting down thousands of factories in a move toward energy efficiency. Is it enough? (Photo:Uwe Hermann/Flickr)
China has a lofty energy goal. The nation wants to use 2005 as a base year and improve energy efficiency 20% by the end of 2010. In a move toward this goal, the NY Times reports that China's Prime Minister gave the green light to shut down 2,087 factories. Although this seemingly drastic action will advance the nation toward its target, analysts say it isn't enough.
According to the article, China has a five-year plan to reduce its energy consumption but seems unlikely to meet its goals, given the industrial boom happening throughout the country. Economists and environmentalists alike are watching the Chinese progression. The article states that last year, China saw the "biggest surge ever of greenhouse gases by a single country" because of increased output from coal plants providing energy for other factories.
The article discusses how China's economy is closely tied to its environmental policy, stating that their economy slows when the nation makes strides toward its efficiency goals. The decision to close the specific types of factories affected is meant to encourage manufacturers toward more advanced technology in terms of production and product. For instance, the article mentions that closing steel processing plants "push[es] steel makers into the production of more sophisticated kinds of steel."
The factories, due to close by September, employ thousands of workers who tend to live on site. The Chinese government had to work around strong pressure from these communities to move forward with the closures, which come on the heels of a policy change "halting" discount energy prices to inefficient industries "like aluminum production." The article mentions labor shortages in many cities throughout the country, which could provide alternate jobs for the affected workers if they are able to relocate.
When these workers do find new employment, even with organizations equipped to meet not only the energy efficiency plan, but also work toward China's plan to reduce "its carbon emissions per unit of economic output by 40 to 45 percent by 2020," the Times says this will still not be enough. The article discusses a growing economy, car ownership, and appliance purchases throughout the country that leave China on track for total carbon emissions to "rise steeply in the next decade."