This paper is a comprehensive, balanced assessment of China’s efforts to reduce emissions and act on climate change since 2011. It identifies key actions to watch for in 2016 as the country unveils its next five-year plan (FYP).

Key Findings

The 12th FYP (2011-2015) period marked a new era in China’s climate actions, recognizing that its climate policies shifted from a primary focus on setting broad goals or statements of priority, to an emerging climate policy framework comprised of specific policy instruments that drive emissions reductions.

China has set numerous climate and energy targets for the 12th FYP, many of which it will likely exceed. A closer look at China’s climate policy framework finds that it has installed measurable and legally binding energy and climate targets, increased effort to enhance data infrastructure, clearly defined responsibilities among government bodies, piloted market mechanisms to diversify its policy instruments, and increased attention to building resilience to climate impacts.

For the 13th FYP period set to begin in 2016, the study identifies three key government actions that can have long-lasting impacts on China’s emissions:

  1. Limiting energy and coal consumption

  2. Capping GHG Growth

  3. Implementing national carbon pricing scheme

To continue to build on current progress towards its vision of low-carbon development, China can enhance transparency and data accuracy, strengthen its policy enforcement and compliance mechanisms, develop more concrete policies to advance carbon capture and storage and other reduction opportunities, improve policy coordination, encourage further innovations in policy making; and develop a more comprehensive system for tracking the implementation and impact of its policies.