Expert Blog

ChinaFAQs experts react to the latest headlines about China climate and energy issues.

Carla Freeman and Bo Li
March 21, 2016

As reflected in the emphasis on “green development” of the recently-released 13th Five Year Plan, China’s leaders recognize the need to shift to a more sustainable, climate-friendly model of development. They have signaled that they believe market pricing is a key element of the new model, and that carbon pricing is an important policy instrument for achieving this shift. While China’s carbon trading pilots and planned national trading system have received much attention, a carbon tax is also being seriously discussed. Government think tanks have proposed various options for the sectors to be covered, tax administration, and use of the revenue to complement existing policies.

Geoffrey Henderson, Ranping Song and Paul Joffe
March 18, 2016

This post originally appeared on WRI’s Insights blog:

China has officially unveiled its 13th Five-Year Plan, which will guide the country’s economic and social development from 2016 through 2020. This latest edition builds on progress made over the last five years, and makes clear that environmental stewardship is an increasingly integral component of China’s development.

The plan lays out targets and measures to address several sustainability challenges—including climate change, air pollution, water, urbanization, transportation and more. The new plan’s high-level targets and policies will continue to strengthen China’s efforts to shift to a more sustainable model of growth and deliver on its climate commitments. Here’s a look at the highlights and importance of the plan for China’s action on energy and climate change.

Sifan Liu
March 11, 2016

This post originally appeared on TheCityFix.

Unique to China, Five-Year Plans (FYPs) are blueprints that central, state and local governments draft and implement to guide social and economic development. Since 1995, the national government has focused on energy efficiency in buildings in its FYPs, and sub-national governments have followed suit since 2000. Since then, many cities have released Building Energy Efficiency action plans as a sub-component of their FYPs. In fact, incorporating building energy efficiency action plans into FYPs is already a growing trend among many cities across China.

Geoffrey Henderson
March 07, 2016

China’s 13th Five Year Plan, to be released in the coming days, will provide a blueprint for the country’s economic, social, and environmental development through 2020. More specific plans for energy and other sectors are expected following the main plan’s release. The plan comes in the context of China’s increasing climate action in recent years, with three key trends emerging: China is making progress in rebalancing its economy away from heavy industry toward services, limiting coal use, and expanding its use of non-fossil energy.

To discuss these trends and provide an overview of the Five Year Plan process, ChinaFAQs hosted a press teleconference on March 4th.

For the audio of the press call, click here.

Geoffrey Henderson and Paul Joffe
March 03, 2016

This post originally appeared on WRI’s Insights blog:

In a few days, China will release its 13th Five-Year Plan, a new economic, social and environmental blueprint for the country’s development through 2020.

After years of astronomical growth, China’s economic expansion has begun to slow. But instead of doubling down on the fossil fuel-intensive strategy that helped produce the country’s runaway growth, China’s leaders have stated that the old growth model has run its course, and that the country will build toward a more environmentally and economically sustainable model of development. Recent signs show that the country is already beginning to shift in this direction, and the new Five-Year Plan provides the opportunity to build on that progress.

Angel Hsu, Andrew Moffat and Kaiyang Xu
December 22, 2015

From the Paris Climate Negotiations

COP-21 provided key insights into China’s evolving view on emissions MRV as national leaders committed to continue building monitoring systems and implementing verification protocols, including third-party verification, particularly for its seven regional pilot emissions trading schemes (ETS) and planned national program. In COP-21’s second week, the Chinese delegation hosted a “China MRV System” side event that brought together academics, government officials and policy experts to discuss China’s capacity to monitor and verify carbon emissions.

Ranping Song
December 11, 2015

From the Paris Climate Negotiations

Negotiators from around the world have gathered in Paris to finalize a global climate agreement, which will be supported by the commitments of over 180 countries to domestic climate action included in their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). In September, China’s President Xi Jinping announced that China will launch a national emissions trading scheme (ETS) in 2017 as one of the key policy instruments that China will use to achieve its own commitment to peak carbon emissions around 2030 or earlier. While questions remain about how China will implement a complex market-based mechanism, recent announcements by Chinese officials shed light on promising plans for the policy’s design and implementation.

Deborah Seligsohn
December 11, 2015

From the Paris Climate Negotiations

By now everyone who follows environmental news or looks at the front page of major newspapers knows that in the last two weeks Beijing has suffered through not one but two of these major multi-day air pollution events that have come to be known as air-pocalypses. Having such a spate of bad air in its capital city just as China was advocating for its green agenda in Paris was undoubtedly somewhat embarrassing to Chinese negotiators, but what does it mean beyond that? We’ve seen commentary suggesting everything from “how can we believe Chinese commitments,” to “this will increase Chinese efforts and make the issue more visible to Chinese.” But what really do conventional air pollution and greenhouse gave emissions have to do with one another? Let’s dig in a bit.

Michael Davidson and Valerie Karplus
December 11, 2015

From the Paris Climate Negotiations

National goal-setting—an expected key outcome from the Paris climate talks currently underway—is a common fixture of policy-making in China and many other countries. Collectively, the current pledges still show significant gaps toward meeting long-term climate goals. Nevertheless, they represent an important increase in scope and ambition over those pledged in advance of the 2009 Copenhagen summit, and those established earlier under the Kyoto Protocol. There is great importance in—and a growing consensus around—enhancing these previous rounds of commitments through a pledge-and-review institution, which if designed properly can also mobilize domestic constituencies even across a wide range of political systems. As China and other countries begin to consider their next steps, we explain here the interaction of international and domestic policy-making in setting climate action targets in China.

Deborah Seligsohn
December 07, 2015

From the Paris Climate Negotiations

There is an infectious enthusiasm among the Chinese delegation, both actual negotiators and the many academics the Chinese government brings along to provide advice and deliver a continuous set of information sessions at its pavilion, that contrasts greatly with the nervous defensiveness of earlier years. The Chinese Communist Party declared in October that China should play a greater role in global governance, specifically citing the climate talks as an important venue, and the Chinese in Paris appear to be embracing that role.