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How gas-for-coal program is carried out makes a difference

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-12-05 21:05

The National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planner, has stepped in to coordinate the major natural gas suppliers to stabilize prices and ensure an adequate supply to cope with rising demand in northern China.

That the supply of gas has been insufficient to meet the demand has resulted in many residents in North China's Hebei province not having the heating they need, which indicates local policymakers were too hasty in implementing their gas-for-coal energy policy.

With the provincial development and reform commission issuing an orange alert for the short supply of natural gas, emergency measures were adopted to strictly restrict its supply to enterprises in order to guarantee that there has been enough for household heating.

And with the demand exceeding supply, the price for natural gas, especially liquefied natural gas rocketed, which further exacerbated the already severe crisis.

Had the local policymakers conducted thorough investigations in advance about the gap between the amount of natural gas that is needed for heating in winter and the amount that could be supplied, they would have been able to avert the crisis by drawing up detailed plans to implement the clean energy program in a phased manner. Some of the coal-burning boilers might also have been kept in operation to provide heating when necessary if there was an insufficient supply of gas.

How a policy is carried out so it achieves its aims without unintended side effects requires not just hard work but also wisdom on the part of policymakers, who should put themselves in the shoes of residents.

The central government's policy of substituting gas for coal as fuel for heating is imperative to improve the air quality, which, let us not forget, has been severe at times in the past. What has gone wrong in northern China is the way this laudatory policy has been implemented.

There are lessons that can be learned from the experience in order to ensure that local authorities implement the central government's initiatives in the way they are intended so that they produce the designed benefits.

 

 

 

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