【英语中国】新增钢铁产能挑战中国治污计划 New steel plants cast doubt on China’s emission control pla …

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2014-3-5 09:30

小艾摘要: Steel plant closures central to the Chinese government’s plan for cutting pollution are likely to be outpaced by steel mills under construction, casting doubt on Beijing’s ability to make headway ag ...
New steel plants cast doubt on China’s emission control pla ...
Steel plant closures central to the Chinese government’s plan for cutting pollution are likely to be outpaced by steel mills under construction, casting doubt on Beijing’s ability to make headway against air pollution enveloping northern China.

On Wednesday, Beijing was again gripped by the thick grey pall that has lingered over northern China for more than a week. Public anger over air pollution has spurred the government to speed up the release of air monitoring data, and could strengthen the hand of environmental regulators in shutting down powerful polluters.

About 30m tonnes of new steel capacity across the country is still under construction, double the 15m tonnes of cuts pledged for 2014 by Hebei province, the industrial heartland surrounding Beijing which accounts for about a quarter of Chinese steel capacity.

Hebei agreed to the cuts as part of a national plan to reduce polluting emissions in the North China plain, where pollution regularly exceeds national standards.

State media showed footage of steel mills and cement plants being destroyed to underline the government’s resolve. About 8m tonnes of capacity have been permanently closed down in Hebei since the plan was announced.

But so far, it is the least powerful polluters that have taken it on the chin. “Generally speaking, the mills that have closed are older and unprofitable,” Wang Jiguang, a sales director at Hebei Iron and Steel Group, one of China’s largest steel producers, said at an iron ore conference organised by Metal Bulletin in Beijing. “Most of them have actually been idle for six months to a year already due to economic reasons.”

Hebei pledged to cut its steel capacity by 60m tonnes by 2017, as part of a negotiated deal to reduce emissions in northern China, the Yangtze Delta and the Pearl River Delta while encouraging industrial investment in the arid west.

Meanwhile, the central government set up a $1.6bn fund to reward industry that complies with emission cuts, in recognition of the local jobs and taxes generated by polluting companies. It is expected to transfer about $330m to Hebei province, which is also the source of most of Beijing’s power supply.

Past attempts by central planning agencies to reduce industrial capacity by fiat have similarly ended in tears, as plant bosses and the banks that lend to them almost always chose to expand rather than face closure.

Allowing the market to cull the inefficient producers has proved even more difficult in China, as state-owned steel companies are generally the worst performers. Nearly every inland steel producer with more than 5m tonnes of capacity – in other words, at least a dozen of China’s biggest and most politically powerful mills – are losing money, according to industry expert Xu Zhongbo of Beijing Metal Consulting Ltd, with the exception of mills that have invested in automotive steel.

Policies directly tied to reducing pollution rather than cutting industrial capacity have generally been more effective. For instance, about a decade ago China ordered the phase-out of the heavily polluting Soderberg process at aluminium smelters, and smelters were duly upgraded.

Power plants across China have installed emissions scrubbers, and have become more willing to use them in recent years after power subsidies were tweaked to reward their operation.

关停钢厂是中国政府减少污染计划的核心环节,但其关门的步伐可能赶不上钢铁产能扩张的步伐,这令人质疑中国政府抗击华北地区空气污染的行动能否取得进展。

周三,北京再一次被浓浓的雾霾笼罩,这场雾霾覆盖华北地区的时间已超过一个礼拜。民众对空气污染的愤怒,促使政府加快了发布空气质量监测数据的频率,并可能促使环境监管机构关停有势力排污企业的力度增强。

目前中国全国范围内在建的钢铁产能约3000万吨,比河北省2014年承诺削减的1500万吨产能多一倍。河北省是环绕北京的工业大省,钢产能占全中国的四分之一左右。

华北平原的污染情况一直比全国标准严重。为服从一项旨在减少华北平原污染物排放的全国计划,河北省同意削减钢产能。

官方媒体播放了拆除钢厂和水泥厂的画面,以凸显政府的决心。自计划宣布以来,河北已永久关停约800万吨钢铁产能。

但迄今为止,被关停的只不过是那些实力最弱的排污企业。在英国《金属导报》(Metal Bulletin)于北京举办的一次铁矿石行业会议上,中国规模最大的钢铁制造商之一——河北钢铁集团营销管理处处长王继光说:“总体来说,到目前为止关停的都只是些陈旧落后、不赚钱的钢厂。其中大多数其实已经因为经济原因停产了6个月到1年。”

河北省承诺在2017年底前削减6000万吨钢铁产能,这是一项经过协商的方案的一部分,根据该方案,中国将减少华北、长三角和珠三角的污染物排放,同时鼓励企业在贫瘠的西部投资发展工业。

与此同时,考虑到污染排放企业对当地就业和税收的贡献,中央政府设立了一项16亿美元的专项资金,用于奖励污染减排达标的企业。专项资金预计将拨给河北省约3.3亿美元。北京的电力主要由该省供应。

中央规划部门以往试图通过行政指令削减工业产能的举措同样以失败告终,因为工厂老板和为工厂提供贷款的银行几乎总是会选择扩张产能,而不是坐等被关闭。

事实证明,在中国,让市场来淘汰缺乏效率的生产商更加困难,因为国有钢铁企业通常业绩最差。除了投资生产汽车用钢的钢厂以外,据北京梅塔科咨询公司(Beijing Metal Consulting)总裁许中波表示,内地产能在500万吨以上的钢铁制造商——也就是中国规模最大、最有政治势力的十数家钢铁企业——几乎全都在亏损。

把政策目标直接放在减少污染、而不是削减工业产能,效果通常更好。例如,中国约10年前下令电解铝行业淘汰污染严重的自焙槽技术,铝厂都改造了设备。

近年来,中国各地发电厂都在安装涤气器,而且随着政府修改发电补贴规则、奖励使用涤气装置的做法,电厂也就更有意愿安装这类装置。

译者/何黎

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