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Blackouts trigger diesel shortage in China: state media

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Nov 8, 2010
Power outages imposed on factories to help China meet its energy efficiency targets have led to diesel shortages in several cities as plants are forced to use generators, state media said Monday.

More than 2,000 privately owned petrol stations in southern China have shut down due to a lack of diesel, the China Daily reported, citing a petroleum industry body.

Long lines of cars and "sold out" signs at service stations are increasingly common in many cities and diesel prices have surged, the report said.

The shortage is in part due to a blackout policy adopted by some local governments in their struggle to meet emissions curbs and energy-saving targets set by Beijing, forcing factories to use diesel generators, it said.

China has sought to reduce energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product -- so-called carbon intensity -- by 20 percent by year's end from 2005 levels.

A 15.6 percent reduction was realised from 2006 to 2009, officials said previously. But the figure increased 0.09 percent in the first half of 2010 year-on-year, signalling the difficulties in meeting the 2010 target.

At global climate talks in Copenhagen last year, China pledged that it would reduce carbon intensity by 40-45 percent by 2020 based on 2005 levels.

More than 1,000 firms in eastern China's Anhui province were asked to curb electricity use from October, while some plants in neighbouring Zhejiang province were ordered to reduce power use at least two days a week, it said.

Critics have said the blackout policy might actually increase emissions and fuel consumption due to the frequent use of less efficient diesel generators, and stall economic growth, according to the paper.

"What local governments need to do is to change economic growth patterns," the report quoted Zhong Yongsheng, deputy director of the Centre for China's Urban-Rural Development Studies, as saying.

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