China Orders Small Cement Plants to be Closed
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the powerful economic planning agency, said in a recent notice that provincial governments would be required to shut all cement plants with annual capacity of less than 200,000 tons by the end of 2008. The notice was published on several industry Web sites.
Overall, the NDRC plans to eliminate 250 million tonnes in outdated cement capacity by 2010 as a way of contributing to the nation's targets for cutting energy consumption and pollution during that time period, it said.
China aims to reduce emissions of pollutants by 10 percent -- and the amount of energy required to generate each unit of gross domestic product by 20 percent -- between 2006 and 2010.
But so far it has been lagging on those targets. China managed to cut its energy consumption per unit of GDP only by 1.23 percent in 2006 -- well below the 4 percent drop it was seeking. It also missed its target of reducing emissions of pollutants by 2 percent last year.
The NDRC fixed quotas of cement capacity reductions for each province and region, other than for the municipalities of Beijing and Shanghai.
For instance, the northern province of Hebei will have to close 15 million tonnes of capacity by the end of 2008 and another 12 million tonnes by the end of 2010.
The agency said provincial officials would have to sign agreements with the central government holding them accountable for the required targets; they in turn would determine specific steps to be taken by officials at the county level.
The NDRC said it would carry out inspections around the country to ensure compliance, and that provincial governments found to be defying the orders would be referred to the State Council, or cabinet, for potential disciplinary action.
Local officials, keen to deliver economic growth to their jurisdictions, have often ignored such edicts from central planners, but Beijing has begun cracking down -- for instance by naming and shaming officials who approve unauthorised projects.