GEC founder member the International Institute of Environment and Development has published a new report, titled “China's path to a green economy: decoding China’s green economy concepts and policies” (link). Joint authored by IIED’s Xiaoxue Weng, and Dr. Zhanfeng Dong, Qiong Wu and Ying Qinvthe of the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning (CAEP), the report aims to serve as an introductory guide to China’s thinking on green economy and reveal the context behind current policy choices.
The authors trace the evolution of China’s green economy polices back through its recent world leading green investment policies all the way to its initial ‘opening up’ in the 1970s. This policy journey was itself motived by the evolution of China’s attitude to green economy from narrow, ‘end of pipe’ environmental protection all the way to the ‘ecological civilisation’ aspiration of the present.
Three key macro policies are identified by Weng et al. as crucial to China’s current green transition: the 12th Five-Year Plan, the national spatial planning policy, and the newly amended environmental law. The 12th Plan
, as the government’s single most important policy document, is crucial to China’s emerging green economy, but it is complemented by the spatial planning policy which specifies four development zones with varying environmental considerations. Lastly, China’s newly-amended environmental protection law is set to provide a solid legal foundation for environmental protection based on a public interest rationale.
This macro level analysis is supplemented by a summary of specific Chinese green policies and stakeholders in selected key areas: green finance, green production, green cities, reducing carbon emissions and promoting renewable energy, and sustainable forestry. The authors also attempt to map these stakeholder interests and influence as on green policy making.
Finally, the analysis distils two unique traits of China’s approach to green economy – an extensive use of pilot projects, and a central-local model of policy development and decentralised implementation – and suggests prosperous avenues for further research on China’s approach to measuring progress, international leakage through exports, and inclusive/informal green economy.
Image credit: "Suzhou, China" (CC BY 2.0) by RussBowling