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[en] In China, the national target for energy intensity reduction, when integrated with target disaggregation and information feedback systems, constitutes a numerical management system, which is a hallmark of modern governance. This paper points out the technical weaknesses of China's current numerical management system. In the process of target disaggregation, the national target cannot be fully disaggregated to local governments, sectors and enterprises without omissions. At the same time, governments at lower levels face pressure for reducing energy intensity that exceeds their respective jurisdictions. In the process of information feedback, information failure is inevitable due to statistical inaccuracy. Furthermore, the monitoring system is unable to correct all errors, and data verification plays a limited role in the examination system. To address these problems, we recommend that the government: use total energy consumption as the primary indicator of energy management; reform the accounting and reporting of energy statistics toward greater consistency, timeliness and transparency; clearly define the responsibility of the higher levels of government. - Highlights: •We assess drawbacks of China's numerical management system for energy intensity. •The national energy intensity target cannot be fully disaggregated without omissions. •Data distortion is due to failures in statistics, monitoring and examination system. •Lower-level governments’ ability to meet energy target is weaker than their pressure. •We provide three policy recommendations for China's policy-makers.