• 13th Five-Year Plan
    The 13th Five Year Plan lays down the strategy and pathway for China's development for 2016-2020 and includes concrete environmental and efficiency targets. It gives top priority to economic development to reach a GDP growth rate of 6.5-7% per annum, consistent with the goal of becoming a 'moderately prosperous society' by 2020, guided by five key principles of 'innovative, coordinated, green, open, and shared development'. At the same time, the 13th Five Year Plan sets peak targets for carbon emissions and energy and water consumption, as well as goals for increasing efficiency of industries and eliminating outdated or overcapacity production facilities, increasing energy production from renewables, and developing green infrastructure. It follows the 11th Five Year Plan, which implemented the concept of energy intensity targets in a number of pilot projects, and the 12th Five Year Plan, which broadened the nature of economic growth towards social inclusiveness and sustainability.

    Carbon Emissions

    China aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 18% from 2015 levels by 2020, in line with China's pledge at the COP21 conference in Paris in December 2015, where President Xi Jinping affirmed China's commitment to reduce total carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 60-65% from 2005 levels by 2030 and peak carbon emissions by 2030.

    The 13th Five-Year Plan also tasks the government with developing rules and regulations to manage the national carbon trading program to be developed based on expansion of the existing seven pilot schemes and expected to be launched around 2018.


    China aims to reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP by 15% from 2015 levels by 2020 (compared to the 16% set in 12th Five-Year Plan 2011-2015, which eventually delivered a reduction of about 18.2%). This more conservative goal is consistent with the estimated 6.5%-7% GDP growth rate projected for 2016-2021, which is slower than the 7% growth rate targeted in the 12th Five-Year Plan. To reach this target, the 13th Five Year Plan specifies sectoral targets and milestones. First, it sets a further goal to reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP by at least an additional 3.4% in 2016. Second, it caps China's total energy consumption at 5 billion metric tons of standard coal equivalent by 2020, a 16.3% increase in consumption from 2015 levels.

    To reach these goals, China's energy production mix is set to diversify and shift away from coal and towards greater proportion of renewables. China is increasing the efficiency of coal burning power plants and also plans to shut down coal-fired boilers that fail to meet national standards, and has restricted construction of new coal-fired power plants. The Plan also supports increase in renewable energy capacity and connection through national government support for wind, solar, and biomass energy production. The Government will also continue to invest in new hydropower, energy storage and nuclear power projects, as well as further increase in the network of smart grids and ultra high-voltage power transmission.


    The transportation measures and goals in the 13th Five Year Plan are closely related to addressing air pollution, in order to "maintain acceptable air quality levels in major cities for 80% of days by the end of 2020". The Plan aims to expand the electric vehicle market, by constructing dedicated parking lots and charging facilities, and removing almost 4 million high-emission vehicles from roads. The Plan will continue to support adoption of low-emission "new energy vehicles" through subsidies to automakers, local governments for purchase of green fleets, and tax breaks and free registration for consumers.

    REDD+ and LULUCF

    The 13th Five Year Plan also aims to modernize commercial agriculture production to reduce overcapacity, while aiming to turn 1 million hectares of marginal cropland into forest or grassland. In an effort to reduce air pollution, the Plan also aims to increase forest coverage to 23.04% over the next five years.
  • Energy Development Strategy Action Plan (2014-2020)
    Published by the State Council, the Plan aims to reduce China's high energy consumption per unit GDP ratio through a set of measures and mandatory targets, promoting a more efficient, self-sufficient, green and innovative energy production and consumption.

    The targets include a cap on annual primary energy consumption set at 4.8bn tonnes of the standard coal equivalent until 2020, with a need to limit the annual growth rate of primary energy consumption to 3.5% for the next six years. The annual coal consumption should be held below 4.2bn tonnes until 2020 (16.3% more than the 3.6bn tonnes burned in 2013, according to the National Coal Association), with the main coal consumption reduction to be achieved in regions around Beijing, the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta - the three biggest city clusters in China. The share of non-fossil fuels in the total primary energy mix is to rise to from 9.8% in 2013 to 15% by 2020, with an indicative 20% share by 2030. The share of natural gas is to rise to above 10%, while that of coal will be reduced below 62%. In addition, installed nuclear power capacity is to reach 58GW by 2020, with additional 30GW expected to be under construction in 2020. Installed capacity of hydro-, wind and solar power in 2020 is expected to reach 350GW, 200GW and 100GW, respectively. Energy self-sufficiency should reach around 85%.
  • National Plan For Tackling Climate Change 2014-2020
    The National Plan For Tackling Climate Change is a comprehensive government strategy that covers mitigation, adaptation, scientific research and public awareness. It includes chapters on 'Status and Prospects', 'Guidelines And Main Objectives', 'Controlling Greenhouse Gas Emissions', 'Adapting To The Impacts of Climate Change', 'Implementation Of Pilot Demonstration Projects', 'Improving The Regional Response To Climate Change', 'Incentives And Restraint Mechanisms', 'Strengthening Scientific And Technological Support', 'Capacity Building', 'Deepening International Exchanges And Cooperation' and 'Performance and Evaluation'.

    The plan's targets are: by 2020, to cut carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45% from 2005 levels, to increase the percentage of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to 15% and to increase the proportion of forest area and stock volume by 40m ha and 1.3m m3 respectively from a 2005 baseline.
  • The National Strategy for Climate Change Adaptation
    Reflecting China's vulnerability to climate change impacts, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) published China's National Strategy for Climate Change Adaptation in November 2013.

    The strategy lays out clear guidelines and principles for climate change adaptation and proposes some specific adaptation goals. It outlines a wide range of measures to be implemented by 2020 in order to protect water resources, minimise soil erosion and strengthen disaster prevention, such as early-warning detection and information-sharing mechanisms at the national and provincial levels, ocean disaster monitoring system and coastal restoration. To reduce climate impacts in agriculture the Chinese government plans to develop new farming practices, including controlling plant-eating pests and improving crop adaptability.

    The plan also includes weather-based financial instruments such as catastrophe bonds and weather index-based insurance.
  • 12th Five-Year Plan for the Development of National Economy and Society (2011-2015)
    The Five-Year Plan aims to create more socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable growth and boost domestic consumption that will begin to re-orientate the economy away from heavy industry and resource-intensive production towards a more consumption-based and resource-efficient economy.

    The plan's targets are to decrease the carbon intensity of GDP by 17% by 2015; to decrease the energy intensity of GDP by 16%; to increase the share of non-fossil fuel primary energy consumption to 11.4%; and to increase forest coverage by 21.6%.