China puts low carbon "energy revolution" at heart of new five year economic plan

Ilario D'Amato
Reading time: 6 minutes
5 March 2016

BEIJING: China has presented its draft 13th Five-Year Plan, the strategy that will lead the second-largest economy and biggest polluter in the world into the next, crucial phase of its development. This year’s China's proposed target for gross domestic product growth is 6.5%.

At the National People's Congress, the country’s legislative organ, the Communist Party of China focused the high-level text on promoting a cleaner industry and boosting green finance. A specific point of the plan focuses on developing an "energy revolution" by establishing a "modern system that is clean, low-carbon and efficient" according to Chinese state media. Electric vehicles will also be promoted in their use and production.

In the plan, China proposes to cap energy consumption by 5 billion tonnes of standard coal equivalent by 2020, and reduce energy intensity by 15%, and carbon intensity by 18% by 2020, according to newswire Reuters.

Water resources will be monitored by a national system, and the cap-and-trade mechanism trialed in some regions will be gradually extended to the whole country. Finally, the plan has includes a comprehensive forest protection plan that will work along with a new 'urbanization method'.

“I am delighted to witness the positive evolution and clean revolution unfolding now in China,” comments Changhua Wu, Greater China Director, The Climate Group. “The plan sets a solid foundation for the world largest developing country to lead a transition at a scale and pace never done before in history, toward sustainability. China is set more solidly to lead a global clean energy revolution.”


The plan comes just few months after the Paris Agreement on climate, which has bound the governments of the world to reduce pollutants’ emissions and to find innovative strategies to keep the global warming “well below” the 2 degrees Celsius from the preindustrial era – the threshold science set to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Its focus is on a balanced, coordinated and in particular sustainable growth pattern for next five years. In fact, China – the largest producer and consumer of coal in the world – has declared a ‘war on pollution’ last year to tackle the striking air pollution problem that afflicts its citizens, particularly in its biggest cities.

To solve this problem, the country is shifting on renewables, leading the world’s investments in this sector. Last year, its new wind capacity reached a record high, with a jump of more than 60% compared to the previous year.

Before joining the world leaders in Paris last December, China submitted its climate pledge to cut its CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 60-65% from 2005 level by 2030, aiming to increase non-fossil fuel sources in primary energy consumption to about 20% by the same date. Moreover, China will peak its CO2 emissions before 2030.


Innovation is also at the heart of the new plan, and it is the core strategy to lift up research and development in the country, through integrated solutions that can create new growth opportunities while addressing the ecological constraints and increasing costs of growth.

The plan shows “China’s ambition to deliver a real-sense sustainable development model that creates new growth opportunity while addressing the ecological and environmental constraints,” comments Changhua Wu. The country “is committed to regulate the expansion of ecological footprints of growth that offers the possibility to release the strongest potential of innovation.” 

The Climate Group is hosting the Global Cleantech Summit 2016 in Beijing on March 23-24; a leadership platform and dialogue on China’s and global cleantech solutions, with the aim to seek effective commercialization of clean technologies. The Summit will focus on key technology areas that could initiate fundamental transformation in China’s energy, industrial and economic development.

By Ilario D'Amato

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