The original version of this article, by Hu Angang and Liang Jiaochen, appeared on ChinaDialogue
Five-year plans (FYPs), which set down and clarify national strategy, are one of China’s most important policy tools. Just as they have helped to drive China’s economic success over recent decades, so they will play a pivotal role in putting the country on a green development path. The 12th Five-Year Plan
, now under consideration by the National People’s Congress, marks the beginning of that process in earnest (Editor’s note: Since this was originally published, the National People’s Congress voted in favor of the plan).
FYPs embody the concept of progressing by degrees, or developing step by step. This approach has been one of the driving forces behind China’s economic progress in recent decades and will now provide the platform for its green development. It is the methodology underpinning China’s socialist modernization: to reach a new step in development every five years. Unstinting efforts over a number of FYPs have driven China’s transformation.
Climate change presents a long-term and all-encompassing challenge for China. It demands a long-term development strategy and broad goals, as well as near-term action plans and concrete policies. Combining these is precisely the idea behind FYPs.
At the global climate change summit in Copenhagen in 2009, China demonstrated it has the long-term political will to respond to climate change; to work with the world to limit global temperatures to no more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures (the goal set out in the Copenhagen Accord). In November that year, the Chinese government formally put forward its medium-term targets on climate change: a reduction in energy intensity of 40 percent to 45 percent on 2005 levels by 2020, and generation of 15 percent of energy from non-fossil fuel sources by the same date.
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Hu Angang is a professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Tsinghua University and the director of the Centre for China Study. He has worked as the chief editor for China Studies Report, a circulated reference for senior officials. Liang Jiaochen is a PhD student at Tsinghua University’s School of Public Policy and Management.
Sources: Business Green, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, World Resources Institute.
Photo Credit: Adapted from “China: CREME,” courtesy of flickr user IFC Infrastructure (Alejandro Perez/IFC).