At a glance: The Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) has released guiding opinions on how to improve China’s response to climate change. The document answers Xi Jinping’s call a month earlier to step up China’s climate game by announcing more ambitious nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
The document lays out key areas and tasks for coordinated action to help achieve the country’s carbon emission goals. The main action points include:
- Prepare strategic long-term plans, such as a “National Climate Change Strategy 2035”
- Strengthen innovation leadership, e.g., in low-carbon technologies and by providing dedicated funding
- Work with local pilot projects and areas, and set clear emission peaking-goals at all localities
- Enhance the climate change responsibility of local government and Party leaders, e.g., by making climate action part of their performance evaluation
In support of these efforts, the MEE’s release of trial measures marked the operational launch of China’s carbon market in February.
MERICS comment: Many provinces and cities have already announced local CO2 emission peak targets. The release of the corresponding national action plan to peak emissions by 2030 is expected soon. The government is likely to push technical solutions to reaching China’s climate goals. The MEE’s guiding opinions illustrate that Beijing wants to spearhead international cooperation on climate change. China’s emissions trading scheme may even surpass that of the EU.
The policy machinery for “greening” China reached full speed in December 2020. Regulators released a vast number of environmental protection standards (e.g., on solid waste pollution and on monitoring electromagnetic radiation of 5G base stations), as well as a plethora of related documents, such as a white paper on the sustainable development of transportation, opinions on stricter supervision of environmental protection and the 2020 Catalogue for the Promotion of Green Technologies.
The tech race is on – with positive effects for the entire globe, if appropriately managed by all actors involved. As top-down pressure to show results increases, it has also become clear that in China not only party and state officials, but also (foreign) companies need to brace themselves for closer scrutiny of their (not so) eco-friendly performance.
Related MERICS China Monitor: “Greening” China: An analysis of Beijing’s sustainable development strategies
Policy name: Guiding Opinions on Unifying and Strengthening Work Related to Responding to Climate Change and Protecting the Ecological Environment
Issuing body: MEE
Date: January 13, 2021