Despite the fact that China's energy intensity has continuously decreased during the 1980s and mostly 1990s, the decreasing trend has reversed since 1998 and the past few years have witnessed rapid increase in China's energy intensity. We firstly conduct an index decomposition analysis to identify the key forces behind the increase. It is found that: (1) the high energy demand in industrial sectors is mainly attributed to expansion of production scale, especially in energy-intensive industries; (2) energy saving mainly comes from efficiency improvement, with energy-intensive sectors making the largest contribution; and (3) a heavier industrial structure also contributes to the increase. This study also makes the first attempt to bridge the quantitative decomposition analysis with qualitative policy analyses and fill the gap between decomposition results and policy relevance in previous work. We argue that: (1) energy efficiency improvement in energy-intensive sectors is mainly due to the industrial policies that have been implemented in the past few years; (2) low energy prices have directly contributed to high industrial energy consumption and indirectly to the heavy industrial structure. We provide policy suggestions in the end. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd.
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