China`s Policy on Sustainable Development

China’s Policy on Sustainable Development
Research Articles:
1993- “Agenda 21 White Paper on China’s Population, Environment and Development”
1996- “Environmental Protection in China”
2003- “Program of Action for Sustainable Development in China in the Early 21st
Century” (10-year follow up to Agenda 21 plan)
2006- “Environmental Protection in China (1996-2005)”
2007- “China’s National Climate Change Program”
“Years ago, the Chinese government established environmental protection as a basic
national policy and sustainable development as an important strategy, and has
adhered to the road of a new type of industrialization. While promoting economic
growth, it has adopted a whole array of measures to strengthen environmental protection.
Especially in recent years, the Chinese government, with the scientific outlook on
development as the guiding principle of environmental protection, has adhered to
focusing on preventive measures, comprehensive control and overall progress with
breakthroughs at some key points, and worked hard to solve conspicuous environmental
problems threatening people's health. At the same time, it has continued its efforts for
institutional innovation, relied on scientific and technological advances, strengthened the
legal system of environmental protection, and brought into full play the initiative of
people of all walks of life. Thanks to these efforts, although the amount of resource
consumption and pollutants is increasing greatly, the trend toward aggravated
environmental pollution and ecological destruction is slowing down; especially,
environmental pollution control in some river valleys has seen some positive results, the
environmental quality of some cities and regions has improved, the amount of pollutant
emission of industrial products has declined, and the people's awareness of the
importance of environmental protection has enhanced.”1
Main Issues According to Chinese Government:
Greatest barriers to sustainable development: the conflict between rapid economic growth
and significant consumption of resources and ecological deterioration; the disparity
between social development and economic development; the increasing inequality among
different regions in terms of social and economic development; the constraints created by
a large population with limited resources; and the inconsistencies between existing laws,
regulations and policies and those needed for sustainable development to successfully
Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China “Environmental Protection in
China (1996-2005), ” June 2006. Available at
Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China “Program of Action for
Sustainable Development in China in the Early 21st Century.” July 6, 2003. Available at
Other major barriers to sustainable development: poor quality of life; inadequate social
security system for a growing population of elders; unemployment; irrational economic
structure; low share of clean energy in the total energy consumption; underdeveloped
infrastructure; large-scale exploitation of natural resources with little waste recycling;
environmental pollution; ecological deterioration is still not curbed; legislation on
resource management and environmental protection needs improvement.3
China’s CO2 emissions just surpassed the US’s emissions by 8% for 2006, making it the
largest emitter in the world.4
Achievements According to 2007 Climate Change Policy5:
- 49.5% decrease in emissions intensity from 5.47 to 2.76 (kgCO2/US$) from 19902004.
- Per capita CO2 emissions in 2004 were only 3.65 tons, equivalent to only 87% of
the world average and 33% of the level in OECD countries
- From 1991 to 2005, China has achieved an annual GDP growth rate of 10.2%
with a 5.6% annual increase in energy consumption, i.e. about 0.55 of the
elasticity of energy consumption.
- From 1991 to 2005, an accumulated 800 million TCEs of energy was saved by
economy restructuring and improved energy efficiency, equivalent to a reduction
of 1.8 billion tons of CO2 emissions
- Share of coal in China’s energy mix decreased from 76.2% in 1990 to 68.9% in
2005, whereas the shares of oil, gas and hydro increased from 16.6%, 2.1% and
5.1% in 1990 to 21.0%, 2.9% and 7.2% in 2005.
- Biomass, solar, geothermal, hydro, and wind power generation have all increased
substantially since 1990.
- Forest coverage increased from 13.92% to 18.21% from 1990 to 2005.
- Population is effectively being stabilized. The 2005 birth rate in China was
1.24%, and the natural growth rate was 0.59%, dropped by 8.66 and 8.50 points
respectively compared to the level of 1990.
Reduce energy consumption by 20% per unit GDP by 2010, consequently
reducing CO2 emissions
Raise proportion of renewable energy in primary energy supply up to 10% by
2010, the extraction of coal bed methane up to 10 billion cubic meters
By 2010, stabilize nitrous oxide emissions from industries to 2005 levels
Increase the forest coverage rate to 20%, increasing the carbon sink by 50 million
tons over the level of 2005 by 2010
Ma Kai, chairman of National Development and Reform Commission of China, “China’s Climate Change
Policy,” June 4, 2007. Available at
By 2010, 90% of typical forest ecosystems and national key wildlife are
effectively protected and nature reserves account for 16% of the total territory.
Educate all residential communities by 2010 about climate change, to raise
awareness and to create a friendly social environment to address climate change
By 2010, establish a suitable and highly-efficient institutional and management
framework to address climate change in the future
Establish and implement the following 10 government programs: (1) Upgrading
of Low-efficiency Coal-fired Industrial Boiler (Kiln), (2) District Heat and Power
Cogeneration, (3) Recovery of Residual Heat and Pressure, (4) Oil Saving and
Substitution, (5) Energy Conservation of Motor System, (6) Optimization of
Energy System, (7) Energy Conservation in Buildings, (8) Green Lighting, (9)
Energy Conservation in Government Agencies, (10) Building the Energy
Conservation Monitoring and Technological Support System