The authorities in Hebei have taken an "iron fist" approach to hitting their carbon emissions targets in the current five-year plan.
In a last-ditch attempt to achieve the 20% reduction in energy intensity goal for 2006 to 2010, the local government has shut down industry and even turned off the traffic lights.
”We had no water to flush the toilet, we couldn’t use the fridge and, of course, production stopped,” said an office manager at Wanxing wire mesh factory in Anping, Hebei province to the Sydney Morning Herald.
He’s had ten days of random black-outs, some as long as 22 hours, as Beijing struggles to achieve more than a quarter of the target in the last few months of the year. The earlier gains in energy efficiency that China had produced were apparently all wiped out by the stimulus period last year.
Leaving aside the obvious point that shutting all factories down temporarily is not a long-term and sustainable approach to climate change, there’s still a flaw in the plan.
China is trying to reduce its energy intensity, which is a measure of how much power is required per unit of GDP. If you close the factories, you certainly achieve a drop in energy consumption, but you also, presumably, get an accompanying drop in GDP. In which case, you haven’t actually reduced your energy intensity.
Unless, as some cynics might suggest, the Chinese government has already fixed what the GDP figure will be for 2006-2010…