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China’s Pathway to a Green Economy

China’s  12th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development (2011-2015) seeks to promote “inclusive growth,” which means ensuring the benefits of economic growth are  distributed to a greater proportion of Chinese citizens.

See China's Country Study Summary

The plan’s key themes are rebalancing the economy, reducing social inequality and protecting the environment. Overall, under the current Five-Year Plan, China will invest US$ 468 billion in greening key economic sectors, compared to US$ 211 billion over  the last five years. The focus is on three sectors: waste recycling and reutilization; clean technologies; and renewable energy. With this amount of public investment, China’s environmental protection industry is expected to continue growing at an average of 15-20 per cent per year and its output is expected  to reach US$ 743 billion during the new five-year period, up from US$ 166 billion in 2010.

For more information, please visit the Chinese government’s website here. 

These investments come to consolidate a massive fiscal stimulus that China committed in response to the economic and financial crisis. In absolute terms, China’s green stimulus of US$ 218 billion was the largest in the world. Almost half of this amount is allocated to railway infrastructure. As of 2010, approximately US$ 33 billion (15%) had been disbursed mainly for the construction of much needed water infrastructure that benefits 14.6 million people, thereby contributing to the achievement of the related Millennium Development Goal (MDG 7).

Green Economy Success Story

The Case of Renewable Energy in China

China is taking considerable steps to shift to a low-carbon growth strategy based on the development of renewable energy sources. The 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010) allocated a significant share of investments to green sectors, with an emphasis on renewable energy and energy efficiency with the goal of reducing per-unit GDP energy consumption by 20% by 2010, compared to 2005. In addition, the Chinese government has committed itself to producing 16 per cent of its primary energy from renewable sources by 2020.

For the full story, please click here.

Partnership with UNEP on Green Economy

A first phase of collaboration focused on a) fostering national multi-stakeholder dialogue on opportunities and options for a green economy in China; b) engaging with Chinese thinkers and economists on an overall conceptual approach to the green economy; and a local survey on Green Economy in Chongqing city. Several recommendations were made, including  strengthening environmental supervision and law enactment to control end-of-pipe environmental pollution as well as providing support for environmental technology and policy innovation for green economy  development. China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection produced policy briefs based on these reports.

In September 2010, a UNEP mission to China reviewed with Chinese officials and partners new areas of partnership on the way towards Rio+20 with a focus  on economic assessments in key sectors and industries such as cement, the paper industry, renewable energy and the environmental protection industry. In December 2010, a delegation from China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection visited UNEP to solidify and move forward cooperative actions on green economy between UNEP and China. People's Republic of China

Other UNEP related initiatives

UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) 2011-2015 The United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) for 2011-2015 will provide the framework for the UN-China partnership during the period of China’s 12th Five Year Plan. It provides a common strategic framework for the operational in-country activities through which the UN system provides support to China during the mentioned timeframe. By combining UN comparative advantage areas with national development challenges and priorities, three main priority areas or UNDAF outcomes have been identified for 2011-2015. The first one is to ensure that the Government and other stakeholders ensure environmental sustainability, address climate change, and promote a green, low carbon economy. Specific outcomes that were identified are the creation of a green economy, better management of natural resources, adaptation to climate change, access to safe rinking water and sanitation, as well as disaster reduction, preparedness and response.

For the full Report, please click here. 

Green Jobs Programme

Seeking the full involvement of its constituents, the ILO Green Jobs Programme operates globally providing policy guidance through participation in  international debates, country assessment and policy advice, technical assistance and capacity building. The principal objective of the ILO green jobs programme in China is to assist the country in realizing its potential for green jobs. Green jobs activities in China include the assessment of the impact of climate change on employment, and the potential of creating more green jobs, support of policy formulation for green employment creation, as well as the integration of green jobs into post-disaster reconstruction in Sichuan. 

For more information on the Green Jobs Programme in China, please click here.

What Chinese Leaders have said about the Green Economy

China's Premier, H.E. Wen Jiabao:

"China ranked number one in the world in terms of (...) the coverage of solar panel of water heater and cumulative installed photovoltaic power capacity, and fourth in the world for installed wind power capacity. These are major  achievements in China’s efforts to adjust economic structure and transform development pattern. They also contributed positively to the global endeavour to develop green economy and tackle climate change. (...)

(...) If the China-EU Comprehensive Strategic Partnership is to move forward, it should be anchored on a foundation of economic cooperation, be hitech driven, and take the green economy as a priority." (...)

H.E. Wen Jiabao, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, speech at the Fifth China EU Business Summit, Nanjing, 30 November 2009.

For the full statement, please click here.