China Releases Its Climate Change Plan

China Releases Its Climate Change Plan

China unveiled its first national plan on climate change this Monday, after two years of preparation by the State Council, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), and 17 other departments. "The plan is China's first comprehensive policy documentation on climate change, as well as the first plan of its kind made by a developing country," Ma Kai, head of the NDRC, said at the news conference.

The five-part plan was developed under the approval of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It states China's current situation and efforts on climate change, as well as the effects and challenges of climate change in the country. It also lays forth the nation’s guidelines and goals for tackling the problem, related policies and measures, and China’s stance on climate change and the need for international cooperation.

Rather than setting a direct target for the reduction or avoidance of greenhouse gas emissions, the Chinese government aims to reduce energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by 20 percent by 2010, according to the plan. China also aims to increase the share of renewable energy (including large hydropower) in primary energy provision to some 10 percent and to cover roughly 20 percent of the nation’s land with forest. China has set another major goal of strengthening its capacity to adapt to climate change, focusing on grassland restoration, improved irrigation efficiency, forest and wildlife conservation, flood control, and coastal security.

The plan stresses the key roles of technology transfer and international cooperation in helping China move toward a low-carbon economy, which is considered crucial to transitioning away from the country’s current energy structure. Technology and cost are major barriers to energy efficiency in China, and it is considered difficult to alter the nation’s coal-dependent resource and consumption framework in the short term.

The United States and China, the world’s top two carbon dioxide emitters, recently agreed in their second strategic economic dialogue to collaborate on the promotion of clean coal technology. This includes developing large-scale coalbed methane capture projects in China, enhancing research and development of carbon capture and storage technologies, and formulating a national low-sulfur fuel policy for China.

China Watch is a joint initiative of the Worldwatch Institute and Beijing-based Global Environmental Institute.