Evaluating China’s Sustainable Development Policies: A Comprehensive Review

In its pursuit of a green, low-carbon, and circular economic system, China has undertaken significant measures to address resource, environmental, and ecological challenges. This review examines key policies from 2022-2023 past year that support these goals.

Sustainable Development

The establishment of a sound economic system of green, low-carbon, and circular development and the promotion of a comprehensive green transformation of economic and social development are the key measures China has outlined to address resource, environmental, and ecological problems. At present, the country is facing two major strategic tasks, namely, realizing the domestic development goal of achieving a fundamental improvement in the quality of the ecological environment, and fulfilling its international commitment to “carbon peak and carbon neutrality.” Under the guidance of this strategic goal, China has introduced a series of important plans and policies in recent years to cope with the structural pressure on ecological and environmental protection, steadily improve ecological and environmental governance capabilities, and make remarkable achievements in low-carbon transformation. The AmCham China Quarterly examines relevant policies from the last year in various areas of green development.

Science and Technology Support for Carbon Peak and Carbon Neutrality (2022-2030)

Policy Highlights: On June 24, 2022, nine government departments, including the Ministry of Science and Technology, collaboratively formulated the “Science and Technology Support for Carbon Peak and Carbon Neutrality Implementation Plan (2022-2030).” This forward-looking plan outlines a comprehensive strategy for scientific and technological innovation actions and safeguarding initiatives. It serves the dual purpose of achieving the carbon peak target by 2030 and laying the groundwork for technological research and development to realize carbon neutrality by 2060. The plan outlines ten specific actions, encompassing foundational research, technology R&D, application, demonstration, results dissemination, talent cultivation, and international collaboration. These actions guide scientific and technological communities, as well as relevant industries, fields, localities, and enterprises in conducting innovative work. The plan emphasizes green and low-carbon energy transformation, the development of low-carbon industries, low-carbon buildings and transportation, emissions reduction of negative-carbon and non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases, and cutting-edge disruptive low-carbon technologies. It introduces measures for low-carbon technology demonstration, talent development, the establishment of low-carbon science and technology enterprises, and international collaboration, facilitating the promotion, demonstration, and application of scientific and technological achievements. Furthermore, the plan accentuates scientific and technological innovation, emphasizing the need to provide high-efficiency, low-cost low-carbon technologies, while incorporating policy innovation, such as low-carbon technology standards, to promote the industrialization of low-carbon technologies.

Implementation Plan for Further Improving the Market-Oriented Green Technology Innovation System (2023-2025)

Policy Highlights: On December 13, 2022, the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Science and Technology issued the “Implementation Plan to Further Improve the Market-oriented Green Technology Innovation System (2023–2025).” This implementation plan delineates nine key tasks and specific initiatives focused on enhancing the support capacity for green technological innovation in the context of green and low-carbon development. The plan emphasizes the leadership of green technological innovation in nurturing leading green technology, low-carbon, and innovative enterprises. It also encourages synergy among actors in green technological innovation to boost innovation vitality among scientific research units and promote collaboration and integration among innovation stakeholders. Furthermore, the plan accelerates the transformation and application of green technology, enhances the green technology evaluation system, and provides fiscal, tax, and financial support to facilitate successful green technology transfer, transformation, and application. The plan encompasses green technology evaluation, financial support, talent development, and international exchanges, with the aim of optimizing these aspects to ensure effective green technology utilization.

Key Points of Energy Regulatory Work in 2023

Policy Highlights: On January 4, 2023, the National Energy Administration issued the “Key Points of Energy Regulatory Work in 2023.” It outlines seven key areas of focus, including market regulation and energy security, to bolster the construction of the power market system and ensure fair market order.

White Paper on China’s Green Development in a New Era

Policy Highlights: Released on January 19, 2023, by the State Council Information Office, the “White Paper on China’s Green Development in a New Era” summarizes China’s green development initiatives and achievements over the past decade. It highlights the growth of green industries, the optimization of energy structures, and the practice of green production methods.

Circular on the Work Related to the Allocation of National Carbon Emission Quota Trading Allowances for 2021 and 2022

Policy Highlights: On March 13, 2023, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment issued the “Circular on the Work Related to the Allocation of National Carbon Emission Quota Trading Allowances for 2021 and 2022.” This document aims to assist the thermal power industry in achieving carbon peak and carbon neutrality.

Guidelines for the Construction of a Carbon Peak Achievement and Carbon Neutral Standards System

Policy Highlights: On April 1, 2023, eleven departments, including the Standardization Administration of China, the National Development and Reform Commission, and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, jointly issued the “Guidelines for the Construction of a Carbon Peak Achievement and Carbon Neutral Standards System.” These guidelines represent a practical application of the “Implementation Plan for Establishing Standardized Carbon Peaking and Carbon Neutrality Measurement System” from October 2022. They guide the ongoing development of a national dual carbon standard system, crucial for achieving the national carbon peak by 2030 and carbon neutrality (dual carbon) by 2060.

Circular on the Issuance of Guiding Opinions on Energy Work in 2023

Policy Highlights: On April 6, 2023, the National Energy Administration issued the “Guiding Opinions on Energy Work in 2023,” providing specific directives for consolidating energy production and supply foundations while advancing the modernization and transformation of green energy.

Ten Codes of Conduct for Ecological and Environmental Protection

Policy Highlights: Released on May 31, 2023, these revised codes promote environmentally friendly behaviors and active public participation in environmental governance, including climate change actions.

Administrative Measures for Voluntary Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Trading (Draft for Comments)

Policy Highlights: This draft, available for public consultation since July 7, 2023, aims to regulate national voluntary greenhouse gas emission reduction trading, signaling a potential resurgence of emission reduction activities.

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This article is from the AmCham China Quarterly Magazine (Issue 3, 2023). To access the entire publication for free, sign up on our member portal here.