China’s Top Ten Environmental Policies of 2019

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Editor’s Note

This is our translation of an article originally published on CDB’s Chinese-language website. You can find the original here.


Since its founding 70 years ago, the People’s Republic of China’s undertakings towards environmental protection have undergone a vigorous development: many significant successes have been achieved, and a series of valuable experiences has been collected. However, the challenges posed by the need to prevent and solve environmental pollution are extremely hard, and the role played by environmental protection in supporting and safeguarding the development of a high-quality economy is particularly relevant.

Under these circumstances, General Secretary Xi Jinping has stated that “a good ecological environment is the most equitable common good and the most inclusive and beneficial contentment for the People”. Environment means the People itself, green hills means beauty and a blue sky means happiness. In fact, what is emphasized here is the need to focus on the improvement of the livelihood and the happiness of the people in order to enhance environmental protection.

Today, at a time in which the responsibilities of environmental protection are increasingly heavy to shoulder, a deep knowledge of the importance of ecology holds great significance for the purposes of firmly taking on the challenges of pollution and pushing the construction of the ecological civilization to a new level.

Listed below are China’s ten most important environmental policies of 2019


1) The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Affairs: rewards and supplements from the Central Public Finance to promote the “Toilet Revolution” and to encourage a conscious improvement of the rural human habitat.


On April 19th, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Affairs announced the launch of the rural “Toilet Revolution” financial rewards and supplements program, which was planned to start in 2019. For a time period of approximatively five years, funds provided by the Central Public Finance will be allocated through rewards and supplements, in order to sustain and guide the promotion of universally accessible sanitary facilities in all the rural areas that meet certain conditions. The purpose is to basically make sanitary waste disposable and recyclable, in view of a conscious improvement of the rural human habitat.

The notice points out that the financial reward and supplement project abides by the principles of “whole-village development and progressive coverage; farmers as the main body and government guide; priority to the localities and support from the center; overall regional plan and subsidies for the disparities”. Local finance departments at all levels shall reinforce financial inputs for the rural “Toilet Revolution” and lay stress on the performance of funds. The Central Public Finance will offer proper rewards and supplements to the localities for the implementation of this project. The overall plan of the Central Public Finance will take into consideration the different development levels of the areas, their financial capacity and their basic conditions, and will standardize the disparities in rewards and supplements among eastern, central and western areas. In addition, it will allocate financial rewards and supplements in conjunction with the periodical sanitary service improvement work, providing an adequate treatment to the central and western areas.


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2) The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress’s review of the 2018 environmental protection report


On April 21st, the tenth meeting of the Thirteenth Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress listened to the “State Council’s 2018 report on the state of the environment and on the advances of environmental protection”. The Minister of Ecology and Environment Li Ganjie, entrusted by the State Council with the responsibility of drafting the report, stated that in 2018 the nationwide air and water quality has improved, the environmental risks associated with the soil have been put under control, the whole ecosystem layout has stabilized, and the situation regarding environmental hazards has also remained stable.

However, the situation for China’s environmental protection remains severe, and the prevention and solving of pollution still poses a series of difficult challenges. The main goals for environmental protection include: increasing the percentage of good air quality days in cities at the prefecture-level and above up to 79.4%, increasing the proportion of surface water that reaches or exceeds the third class of quality up to 71,3%, and reducing the total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of national work units by approximatively 3,6% over the previous year. In order to guarantee the achievement of the annual goals, the State Council and the related departments will actively promote high-quality economic development, and firmly take on the real and symbolic challenges posed by the prevention and solution of the pollution problems. Concurrently, they will prioritize the overcoming of the challenge of keeping the skies blue, and give prominence to key areas, targets, time periods, and to prevention and control activities in crucial sectors.


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3) The Ministry of Ecology and Environment publishes a list of “Waste-Free Cities” pilot construction sites


The “Notice on the release of the list of ‘Waste-Free Cities’ pilot construction sites”, issued on May 5, names 11 cities selected as “Waste-Free Cities” pilot construction sites, as follows: Shenzhen City (Guangdong province), Baotou (Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region), Tongling City (Anhui province), Weihai City (Shandong province), the main urban area of Chongqing Municipality, Shaoxing City (Zhejiang province), Sanya City (Hainan province), Xuchang City (Henan province), Xuzhou City (Jiangxu province), Panjin City (Liaoning province), and Xining city (Qinghai province).

At the same time, Hebei’s Xiong’an New Area, the Beijing Economic and Technological Development Area, the China-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City, Guangze county of Fujian province and Ruijin City in Jiangxi province are taken as special cases with reference to the “Waste-Free Cities” pilot construction sites, and jointly promoted.


Link to the original text here.


4) Twelve Departments jointly issue the “Green Action Plan (2019 – 2022)


On the 3rd of June, the Ministry of Transport, the NDRC, the Ministry of the Ecology and Environment and another twelve departments and units jointly published the “Green Action Plan (2019-2022). The plan requires that by 2022, a reasonably laid out, environmentally friendly, low-carbon, intensive and effective green action service system be set up, that the environment should have an obvious improvement, that there should be a notable improvement in the quality of public transport services, that the subjective position of mass action be established, that the equipment for green action be noticeably improved, and that the approval, sense of accomplishment and happiness of the people towards making green choices be strengthened.


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5) The “Nuclear Safety in China” White Paper published by the State Council Information Office


On  the third of September, the State Council Information Office published a white paper entitled “Nuclear Safety in China” and held a press conference at the same time. Liu Hua, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Ecology and the Environment and Director of the National Nuclear Safety Administration, and Guo Chengzhan, Deputy Director of the National Nuclear Safety Administration and Director of the Department of Nuclear Facility Safety Supervision of the Ministry of Ecology and the Environment, attended the press conference.

“Nuclear Safety in China,” is the first white paper on nuclear safety to be published by the Chinese government. The white paper comprehensively introduces the course of development of nuclear safety in China, and describes China’s basic principles and policy positions on nuclear safety. It shares the principles and practices of China’s nuclear safety supervision, and clarifies China’s determination and action in advancing the progress of global nuclear safety governance. The full text of the white paper is approximately 11,000 words and consists of a preface, body and concluding remarks.

The white paper states that the discovery of the atom and the development of the use of nuclear energy have brought a new motivation to human development and have greatly enhanced the human ability to understand and transform the world. At the same time, the development of nuclear energy is also associated with safety risks and challenges. If humanity wants to make better use of nuclear energy and achieve greater development, it must respond well to various nuclear safety challenges and ensure nuclear safety.

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6) The ‘Belt and Road” Green Development Case Study Report’ is released in Beijing


On 24 September the “Belt and Road” Initiative International Green Development Coalition (hereinafter abbreviated to The Coalition) and the Bo’ao Forum for Asia jointly released the ‘“Belt and Road” Green Development Case Study Report’ in Beijing. Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Ecology and the Environment and Commissioner of the Advisory Committee of The Coalition, Zhao Yingmin, attended the press conference and delivered a speech. The ‘”Belt and Road” Green Development Case Study Report’ is the first important research report relating to the “Belt and Road” joint construction of national green development since The Coalition was formally launched in April 2019. It is also the first time that the Bo’ao Forum for Asia has released a special report on green development issues.

The ‘”Belt and Road” Green Development Case Study Report’ selected 13 green development cases from different industries in ten countries for sharing, based on the principles of productivity, gained recognition and and potential to be popularised and replicated, from six aspects of green development including pollution control, ecosystem management and conservation, green energy, green production, green living and green finance.


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7) The Environmental Protection and Poverty Alleviation Forum is convened on 2019 National Poverty Alleviation Day


As one of the series of 2019 Poverty Alleviation Day forums, the Environmental Protection and Poverty Alleviation Forum organized by the Ministry of Ecology and the Environment was held on October 14 at the Beijing Conference Center. The forum’s theme was “strengthening ecological and environmental protection, and combining resolute poverty alleviation with rural revitalization.” Ou Qingping, member and deputy director of the State Council’s Poverty Alleviation office party leading group, attended the forum and offered remarks, as did Ministry of Ecology and the Environment vice minister Zhuang Guotai.

The Ministry said the fight to alleviate poverty is gradually entering an important historical period and critical milestone in the transition to rural revitalization. On the foundation of earlier work on this front, we must further study and carry out Secretary Xi Jinping’s major treatise on poverty alleviation work and thinking on becoming an ecological civilization: through concrete measures like building an ecological, liveable, and beautiful countryside and constructing special ecological economic systems, the fight against poverty should be linked with rural revitalization. The thread of ecological and environmental protection should run through all efforts toward poverty alleviation and rural revitalization, and the results of the fight against poverty should be used to reinforce the foundation of green and sustainable development for rural revitalization.

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8) The Ministry of Ecology and the Environment and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development jointly publish the “Administrative Provisions for Major Scientific Projects in Water Pollution Control and Treatment”

According to a December 9 statement from the Ministry of Ecology and the Environment, in order to strengthen the organization and administration of the major projects in water pollution control and treatment and ensure the project’s overall objectives are sufficiently met, the Ministry of Ecology and the Environment and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development revised the “Temporary Provisions for Administering Major Projects in Water Pollution Control and Treatment” to integrate the actual work and the organizational units of water management projects in accordance with the requirements of the “State Council Notice on Several Measures for Optimizing Research Management and Upgrading Research Results” and other relevant documents. The two Ministries jointly published the “Administrative Provisions for Major Scientific Projects in Water Pollution Control and Treatment.”

The provisions dictate that the water management projects are a National Science and Technology Major Project as determined in the “National Medium-Term Science and Technology Development Plan (2006-2020).” Implementing the water management projects has important implications for China’s reliance on sci-tech innovation, advancement of energy-saving and emissions reduction work, water pollution control, improvement of aquatic ecological environments, drinking water safety, and accelerating construction of an ecological society.

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9) The Release of the “Blue Paper on Ecological Governance: Report on China’s Development of Ecological Governance (2019-2020)”


The Blue Paper on Ecological Governance: Report on China’s Development of Ecological Governance (2019-2020) was jointly released by the Chinese Association for Forestry and Ecological Development Promotion, the Chinese Society for Ecological Economics, the Institute of Quantitative and Technical Economics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and the Social Sciences Academic Press. The Report summarized the achievements of China’s ecological governance since the reform and opening up, identified the main problems and opportunities existing in the current ecological governance, published the index of China’s ecological governance, and put forward policy recommendations for ecological governance.

The Report pointed out that China has entered a new era of ecological protection as a priority in development. Since 2015, China’s ecological governance has been integrated into the system of ecological civilization, establishing the strategic goal of an ecological civilization system and ecological protection.

The Report points out that there are four problems in China’s ecological governance. First of all, the long-term nature of the goal of comprehensively curbing land degradation; secondly, the urgency to break the conflict between the priority of ecological protection and the industrialization process; thirdly, the difficulty of sharing the fruits of economic growth and social development in nature reserves; and fourth, the fundamental nature of improving the monitoring capability and building a modern monitoring system.


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10) China attends and addresses the UN’s High-level Climate Change Conference


The 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference started a high-level meeting on December 10 to continue consultations on unresolved issues. Zhao Yingmin, vice minister of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of China and head of the Chinese Delegation, delivered a speech on behalf of China at the UN High-level Climate Change Conference on December 11, local time.

China stressed that this conference should firmly implement the Paris Agreement, jointly uphold multilateralism, spare no effort to complete the negotiations on the remaining implementation details of the Paris Agreement, clearly identify the gaps before 2020, and strengthen the means of implementation. The support provided by developed countries should be matched by the actions of developing countries. As the largest developing country, China has taken strong climate action in the face of unbalanced and inadequate development. China will endeavour to overcome the problems and difficulties brought about by unilateralism and protectionism, unswervingly implement the national strategy of actively responding to climate change, continue to make arduous efforts and fully implement its commitments, and contribute to addressing global climate change, seeking a common development of global ecological civilization and building a community with a shared future for mankind.


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In Brief

The ten most important policies of the year for the promotion of environmental protection.
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