Between 1980 and 2000, China's energy efficiency policies resulted in a decoupling of the traditionally linked relationship between energy use and gross domestic product (GDP) growth, realizing a four-fold increase in GDP with only a doubling of energy use. However, during China's transition to a market-based economy in the 1990s, many of the country's energy efficiency programs were dismantled and between 2001 and 2005 China's energy use increased significantly, growing at about the same rate as GDP. Continuation of this one-to-one ratio of energy consumption to GDP — given China's stated goal of again quadrupling GDP between 2000 and 2020 — will lead to significant demand for energy, most of which is coal-based. The resulting local, national, and global environmental impacts could be substantial.
In 2005, realizing the significance of this situation, the Chinese government announced an ambitious goal of reducing energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20% between 2005 and 2010. One of the key initiatives for realizing this goal is the Top-1000 Energy-Consuming Enterprises program. The comprehensive energy consumption of these 1000 enterprises accounted for 33% of national and 47% of industrial energy usage in 2004. Under the Top-1000 program, 2010 energy consumption targets were announced for each enterprise. Activities to be undertaken include benchmarking, energy audits, development of energy saving action plans, information and training workshops, and annual reporting of energy consumption. This paper will describe the program in detail, including the types of enterprises included and the program activities, and will provide an analysis of the progress and lessons learned to date.