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MEEF - Middle East Projects News & Analyses - previous page

China, a starving giant

The People's Republic of China (9.6 million square kilometres) is only a little smaller than the United States and has become the most highly populated country on the planet, with 1.3 billion inhabitants (1/5th of the total population).

 
China's GNP has grown by 9% [per annum?] over the last few years, and the urbanised south-east has seen much higher growth than the rest of the country.

China is the second-largest user of energy (after the United States) and in 2003 passed Japan as second-largest user of oil; current consumption is about 350 million tonnes per year.

Since 1933 China has been a net importer of oil and it is growing so dependent that it has become a major player in the world oil market. Despite attempts to use dispersed energy sources (including Russia, Venezuela, Canada and Nigeria), almost half imported oil comes from the Middle East and 30% from Africa.
 

Coal accounts for 65% of China's energy consumption, making it the largest producer and consumer in the world (34.4%). In the long term, the increase in coal consumption is expected to continue, although the proportion of Chinese energy needs represented by coal will diminish thanks to technological improvements and the increase in the use of natural gas, for which an agreement to build a pipeline from Siberia was recently signed with Russia.


 
In the 1990s, Chinese electricity production was faced with a major problem of over-production. Now, demand has outstripped production capacity and since 2003, much has been done to fill the shortfall. Dozens of plants, representing over 120 GW, are being built, but capacity will only exceed demand in 2007, largely because of the 15% per year growth rate.
Chinese investment is very attractive in Africa, especially because it does not interfere in internal affairs and does not impose conditions concerning human rights, fiscal probity, or ethical and political concerns on the government. Its only requirement is to de-recognize Taiwan. Although Chinese contracts are welcomed at government level, Chinese exports have put many African producers out of business. In response to criticisms of its approach, China accompanies its investments with humanitarian and health aid, study grants, and infrastructure projects.
Info:
manon.vandevelden@pandora.be.

(Milieu Direct, Belgium,
www.kluwer.be/kluwer/home.asp?doelid=3)


NL: Energy savings in supermarket

Dutch environmental services started a large-scale survey of energy use in supermarkets in 2005. The inventory shows that supermarkets use a lot of energy (think refrigerator and freezer cabinets, as well as lighting). The environmental services want to limit energy use in supermarkets by imposing new requirements, such as covers for cabinets, high-yield lighting, and timers. Supermarkets think it is not the business of environmental services to impose new requirements on them.

  According to the decree on environmental management in retailing and workshops, environmental services may require energy savings if the implementation costs can be recouped within five years. If the time to achieve return on investment (ROI) is longer, the demand is considered unviable and cannot be imposed.

Several environmental services have already published regulations making energy-saving measures that can be amortised over five years obligatory. One of these is the requirement for covers on refrigerators and freezers. The supermarkets do not like this; they fear a loss in sales, because a cover changes the presentation of products.

Moreover, the supermarkets believe that such covers will take longer than five years to pay for themselves. The environmental services wrongly excluded from their calculations many supplementary costs such as cleaning and maintenance, say the companies.

The results of various reports on payback time for covers contradict each other. There is no consensus on the additional costs which should or should not be included in the calculation of ROI. For example it is not impossible that if vertical cabinets have doors, aisles will need to be widened. Should this lost retail space count in the calculation of ROI? Moreover, hygiene requires these covers or doors to be cleaned regularly. Should these cleaning costs be included? No-one has yet had the last word; it will no doubt fall to magistrates to make a decision.

It is not unusual for professional federations to sign collective agreements on energy-saving measures. For example the federation of supermarkets, represented by the central office of food sales (CBL) have signed an agreement with the finance ministry. The objective is that by 2010 supermarkets will have improved energy efficiency by 32% compared to 1995, and that 5% of energy will be supplied from renewable sources.

There is an apparent contradiction between the actions of the environmental services and this agreement it is precisely to avoid this type of action by individual environmental services that the supermarkets signed the agreement with the ministry.

(Milieu Magazine, Netherlands, www.milieumagazine.nl)

   

 

 

 

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