Project title Sector SCP practice
ACMFN Cross cutting issues Cleaner Production
CAPACITY - Food Supply Chain Food and beverage Creating Demand for Better Products, Eco-labels
China Motor Challenge Fabricated metals industry, Machinery industry Eco-labels, Product design for sustainability
Eco-Friendly Bamboo Wood-based industry Business and products for the poor, Product design for sustainability, Sustainable Supply Chain Management
Edible Bamboo Shoot Food and beverage Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Management, Creating Demand for Better Products
EMAS Global China Electrical equipment industry Environmental Management Systems
ESEEC Electrical equipment industry, Machinery industry Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Management, Environmental Management Systems
FEES Cross cutting issues Cleaner Production
Heat Pump Water Heater Challenge Machinery industry, Utilities sector Cleaner Production, Creating Demand for Better Products
Higher Efficiency of Transformers Fabricated metals industry, Machinery industry Product design for sustainability, Sustainable Supply Chain Management
Industrial Symbiosis Chemical sector, Cross cutting issues Industrial symbiosis
Lead Elimination Project Chemical sector Cleaner Production
Low Energy Housing Building materials industry Cleaner Production, Environmental Management Systems
Printing and Dyeing Textile and leather industry Cleaner Production
REWIN Utilities sector Cleaner Production
SC in Urban China Cross cutting issues Creating Demand for Better Products
SUPP-Urb China Wood-based industry, Machinery industry Creating Demand for Better Products, Eco-labels
SUS BIRD Building materials industry Creating Demand for Better Products
Train the Trainers Building materials industry, Wood-based industry Cleaner Production, Creating Demand for Better Products
VA3 Cross cutting issues Cleaner Production
Western China SusBuild Building materials industry Product design for sustainability
Wood Processing and Trade Wood-based industry Eco-labels, Sustainable Supply Chain Management

Focal point

Mr. Xia Cheng Deputy Adviser 

Environmental Management and Sustainable Development Division

Department of Regional Economy

National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC)


Under SWITCH-Asia’s regional Policy Support Component, UNEP is implementing a range of coordinated SCP activities in China. For this policy support, UNEP’s main partner in China is the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission. 

Activities being implemented also include collaborations with non-governmental institutions coordinated with the UNEP China Office. These non-governmental partners for advancing SCP in China include, China Environmental United Certification Center (CEC), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and the All China Environment Foundation (ACEF). 

With the CEC SWITCH-Asia policy support has focused on capacity-building in the business sector, with small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to increase energy efficiency and ensure the development of a low-carbon certification system for businesses in China. Various trainings and events have been conducted with the private sector in this regard. 

With the CAS, SWITCH-Asia Policy Support has focused on developing a national SCP indicators system for China, the first of its kind for a country, which can assess progress on SCP across national and local governments, even assessing progress among household consumers. The system has been fed into UNEP’s work on the Sustainable Development Goals, where goal 12 on SCP will also involve the development of national indicators to assess progress on SCP.

With ACEF, SWITCH-Asia policy support is focusing on research to advance sustainable consumption at the local level, among urban and rural town centres, conducting surveys to develop a benchmark on sustainable consumption trends in key areas of China.

Status of SCP policy framework

Environmental objectives are integrated into several national policies and regulations, including the Circular Economy Promotion Law and the Cleaner Production Promotion Law. SCP principles are also integrated into China’s Five-Year Plans for Social and Economic Development.

China's 11th and 12th Five-Year Plan

The Five-Year Plans for Social and Economic Development (FYPs) form the basis for coordinating Chinese national public policy priorities. They are developed by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and approved by the National People’s Congress. SCP principles are integrated through quantified pollution emission targets as well as quantified resource efficiency targets.

The 11th FYP (2006-2010) marked a major shift from previous plans in terms of the objectives of economic policy. It had an increased focus on more balanced and sustainable growth, greater resource efficiency, better living standards and balanced rural- urban development.

The 12th FYP (2011-2015) is continuing the broad policy direction of the previous plan. Major themes in the current plan are sustainable growth, economic restructuring, social equality and environmental protection. The Chinese government seeks to move the economy up the value chain to more service and high-tech oriented business. For the first time in a FYP, China has set a carbon-intensity reduction target of 17 per cent and intends to reduce energy intensity by a further 16 per cent by 2015.

(Source: Resource Efficiency: Economics and Outlooks for China, 2013)

China’s Circular Economy Promotion Law

China is one of the first countries to embrace the circular economy (CE) approach as a new paradigm for economic and industrial development. The CE concept seeks to change the economic growth model by radically increasing material use efficiency and sharply reducing pollution discharges. The ultimate objective of the CE approach is to achieve decoupling of economic growth from natural resource depletion and environmental degradation (World Bank, 2009).

The Circular Economy Promotion Law came into force in 2009. It is a comprehensive framework law which aims to improve resource efficiency, protect the environment and achieve sustainable development. The Chinese government is currently in the process of drafting the CE Development Plan, which will outline the major tasks and measures necessary for achieving more effective implementation.

(Source: Resource Efficiency: Economics and Outlooks for China, 2013)

Cleaner Production Promotion Law

China began to implement cleaner production (CP) in the early 1990s as a way of confronting the country’s serious environmental problems. A network of national and local CP policies incorporated CP activities such as demonstration projects, training and promotion centres and the creation of the National Cleaner Production Centre (CNCPC) (Hicks and Dietmar, 2007). Today, the Cleaner Production Promotion Law (2003) governs the implementation of all CP activities in the country. It seeks to promote cleaner production, increase resource efficiency, and reduce and avoid the generation of pollutants. 

(Source: Resource Efficiency: Economics and Outlooks for China, 2013) 

These are broad policies supporting SCP in China, from national to local government. However, China has recently also enacted specific policies focusing on advancing SCP through consumer information (e.g. Eco-labelling), support for green public procurement through the government procurement law and more. 

In 2013, the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), a policy advisory body in China, launched a task force for Sustainable Consumption and Green Development. This task force published an assessment of SCP policies in China as well, by sector, the report of which can be found online here

Sectoral Policies (from SWITCH-Asia SCP Policy Needs Assessment)

The Land Administration Law was implemented in 1999 to protect environmentally sensitive and agricultural land, and to coordinate the planning and development of urban land. The law reinforces farmland preservation efforts by stipulating that the total amount of cultivated land within each administrative area needs to remain unreduced. 

In recent years, China has adopted Building codes and standards for residential and public buildings, focusing on heating, ventilation and air conditioning, as well as lighting, hot water and power use. National energy design standards for residential and public buildings were developed in 2005. The Ministry of Housing, Urban and Rural Development (MOHURD) regulates the building industry in China and coordinates the country’s building energy codes. The various standards and codes developed are active, but enforcement of these is a key challenge. 

The Chinese government has adopted a number of regulations to reduce the negative environmental and health impacts of motor vehicles. The revised Energy Conservation Law (2007) promotes the use of clean, alternative fuels and provides incentives for the development and use of high-efficiency vehicles, including alcohol-fuelled, hybrid, electrical and compressed natural gas vehicles. Mandatory fuel economy standards have been instituted to achieve emission reductions in private vehicle use.

Minimum energy performance standards now exist for 30 types of appliances and equipment, mandating an average ten per cent reduction of energy consumption over previous levels. A mandatory energy information label, known as China Energy Label (CEL) was established for 13 types of appliances to promote consumer awareness and facilitate market transformation.

The Chinese government has issued a series of favourable policies to strengthen waste management. These incentives include tax refunds, prioritized bank loans, subsidized loan interest, and subsidized prices for purchase of electricity. Several policies have been implemented to address the serious waste problems in China. These include among many others (i) the Law on the Prevention and Control of Environmental Pollution Caused by Solid Waste (1995), (ii) the Measures for the Management of Municipal Domestic Waste; and (iii) the recently adopted China WEEE Regulation (2011).

Resource consumption and production

Main Resource Consumption and Resource Efficiency Indicators (2010)

Population (millions) 1,390.551
GDP (billion USD) 3,890.890
GDP is in USD exchange rate based on year 2005 and deflated.
Source: UNSD database.
Subject Area Total Per person Per USD$ of GDP
Domestic Material Consumption, DMC
(tonnes, tonnes per capita, kgr per 1USD$)
23,590,996,267 16.97 6.06
GHG emissions
(kilotonnes,tonnes per capita, kgr per 1USD$) )
11,183,810 8.04 2.87
Total Primary Energy Supply, TPES
(Petajoules, Gigajoules per capita, Megajoules per 1USD$)
106,368 79.52 27.34
Water Use
(Trillion litres, Kilolitres per capita, Litres per 1USD$)
554 398.48 142.41
Subject Area Indicator
Population density 2015 (UNESA 2012 revision), population per 146
GDP per capita (USD), 2013 WB 6,807.40
HDI Rank (2013) UNDP 0.719
Arable land (hectares per person) WB 2012 0.08
Forest cover in % (2010), UNSTATS 22
Material intensity (2010)UNEP 6.06
Per-capita energy use (kg of oil equivalent per capita) 2011, WB 2,029
Energy intensity (total primary energy consumption per USD of GDP) 2011, EIA 24,708.07
GHG intensity (2010) UNEP 2.87
CO2 emissions (metric tone per capita), 2010, WB 6.2
Number of Middle Class consumers % (2010), ADB 62
Number of people with income < 2USD/day (PPP, USD, %), 2010, ADB 37

Trends in Resource Consumption and Resource Efficiency Indicators (1970-2010)

DE: Domestic Extraction;
MI: Material Intensity of the economy;
MF: Material Footprint.
All other abbreviations explained in the table above

In panel a) we can see that growth in China’s GDP has far outpaced growth in the other four overview indicators, so we would expect rapidly decreasing material and energy intensity, with relative decoupling of growth from DMC, although the rapid growth in both total DMC and TPES make clear that there is no sign of absolute decoupling at all. The trajectory of DE in panel b) makes clear the extent to which China’s local extraction of materials has escalated to meet the requirements of its rapidly growing economy. While we know China to be a major importer of raw materials, panel c) shows that its total material footprint is less than DE by itself, although the relative shares of different material categories changes somewhat. Panels d), e) and f) confirm the trends for material, energy, and GHG intensities, and per capita, that we would expect from panel a) i.e. all intensities are decreased rapidly while consumption per capita nonetheless continued to increase for all. An aspect that was not clear from panel a) is the degree to which early, rapid improvements in intensities have plateaued since the year 2000, indicating that even relative decoupling is no longer occurring, while per capita consumption continues apace. The footprint based measures in panels d), e), and f) also agree well with the more conventional indicators, but are consistently lower, indicating that the traditional measures tend to overstate Chinese consumption of resources.

(Source: UNEP CSIRO Indicators for a Resource Efficient and Green Asia and the Pacific, 2015). 

Key references relevant to SCP

  • SWITCH-Asia RPSC SCP Policy Needs Assessment, 2011
  • Environmental Policies in China over the Past 10 Years: Progress, Problems and Prospects, Procedia Environmental Sciences, 2, 1701-1712, Chunmei, W and Zhaolan, L., 2010.
  • China’s ongoing energy efficiency drive: Origins, progress, and prospects, Energy Policy, 37, 1331-1344.
  • Circular economy policy of China: Role of policy research towards a shift from institution building to implementation, Presentation, Chinese Academy of Sciences, UNEP, Geng, Y., 2009.
  • Toward Sustainable Growth in the People’s Republic of China: the 12th Five-Year Plan, ADB Brief No,7, Manila, the Philippines. Lommen, Y.F, 2011.
  • China and a sustainable Future: Towards a Low Carbon Economy and Society, UNDP, Beijing, China. 2010
  • Mid-term Evaluation of China’s 11th Five Year Plan, Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Unit, World Bank. 2008.
  • UNDAF 2011-2015, United Nations Development Assistance Framework for the People’s Republic of China, Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in China, 2010.

UNEP's relevant activities

The information in the country profiles herein have been obtained through research with firsthand and secondhand sources. The information presented herein cannot be considered as official policy of governments or other official bodies. The SWITCH-Asia Programme cannot be held responsible for the content of the sites to which it provides links or for the availability of servers or links. Information is being continuously updated in order to maintain an up to date country profile. If you would like to contribute information for this profile or have any further comments, please send an email to:



Estimates on the total number of SMEs in China vary widely according to the source consulted. While the latest national economic census counted around 7 million regis­tered enterprises with fewer than 300 employees in 2008 (China Economic Census Yearbook 2008, cited from OECD 2015), Shi (2014) refers to 56 million SMEs in 2013, includ­ing roughly 12 million SMEs and 44 million businesses run by individuals.

SMEs contribute to almost 60% of GDP in China, 50% of tax revenues, 68% of exports and 75% of new jobs every year (CASME, cited from Ministry of Commerce 2012). Overall, SMEs make up around 97% of all firms (OECD 2015).

In China, the need to improve access to finance for small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and to increase sustainable consumption and production (SCP) practices as well as green growth has been recognised by the gov­ernment and, to some extent, by financial institutions.

China is looking for ways to maintain stable economic growth while at the same time reducing energy consumption and the pressure on the environment. For achieving this goal, the development of the SME sector and the promotion of green investments are strategic goals of the Chinese Government. Access to finance is an important success factor for reaching these targets.

The definition of SMEs in China is relatively wide – compared to international standards, Chinese SMEs are rather large. As a result, a considerable share of the funding for SMEs actually goes to large enter­prises while smaller enterprises still remain unserved. 

Diverse sources of financing for SMEs

  • Most important providers of working capital and investment finance for SMEs have been small- and medium-sized city commercial banks. 
  • Bank loans are the primary source of formal external fi­nance to companies in China, also in regard to Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP).
  • Large state-owned commercial banks, policy banks and joint-stock commercial banks have increased their SME lending activities due to recent efforts by the Chinese Government to improve SMEs’ access to finance 
  • Joint stock commercial banks have be­come known for being pioneers in green lending in China, through the introduction of innovative finance products, such as energy performance contracts and carbon quota pledge-based loans.
  • State commercial and policy banks invest significant amounts in green sectors and pollution abatement, but these financial resources go mostly to large enterprises and infrastructure projects. 
  • The share of SME financing in the capital market remains very small compared to overall financial transactions taking place at capital markets. 
  • SMEs tend to turn to non-deposit taking lenders and informal sources of finance when they cannot obtain funding from financing banks. Micro­credit companies and pawn shops have seen strong growth in recent years.


  • SMEs have low awareness and knowledge of oppor­tunities for funding
  • SMEs lack financial literacy and financial track-records.
  • ESCOs face high financial burdens and risk.
  • Financial institutions have high collateral require­ments.
  • Small lending institutions that are important sources of funding for (green) SMEs suffer from low financial capacity
  • Many investors and banks are biased towards energy-related projects; other fields such as water, air, and waste remain under-represented.
  • Financial institutions lack tools to assess SMEs’ credit default risk.
  • Financial institutions charge high interest rates for lending.
  • Guidelines for SME lending and green lending are not fully complied with
  • Overall, investors prefer large state-owned enterprises working with more established technologies

Main institutions providing Green Finance

  • Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST)
  • Torch High Technology Industry Development Center (under MoST)
  • National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC)
  • National Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Fund
  • International Finance Corporation (IFC)
  • Ministry of Industry and Information (MII)
  • General Administration of Taxation
  • Huaxia Bank
  • China Exim Bank
  • Minsheng Bank
  • Bank of Beijing
  • World Bank
  • China Industrial Bank


New financing for SMEs / innovative financing mechanisms:

The People’s Bank of China published Guidelines on Establishing the Green Financial System[1] “to mobilize and incentivize more social (or private) capital to invest in green sectors, while restricting investment in polluting sectors."

Carbon emissions trading pilots:  As of 2015, China implemented carbon emissions trading pilots in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Chongqing, Guangdong, Hubei and Shenzhen. The seven markets have completed a total trading of quota of around 67 Mt CO2e, with an accumulated trading volume up to around RMB 2.3 billion.[2] In 2017 China plans to launch a national carbon market, which will be the world’s largest, with more than 7,000 firms and is expected to be in the range of 3-5 billion tons of carbon allowances per year initially.[3]

The ESCO industry has developed rapidly in China in the last 20 years. Not only the number of ESCOs has grown, but also the total capital invested in clean energy projects through ESCOs. With this expansion of the ESCO market, the need for financing has been steadily growing (Evans et al. 2015). Yet, many ESCOs are small and medium-sized enterprises that face similar challenges as other Chinese SMEs – for example the access to finance for the energy efficiency interventions (Qi 2013).




Status and policies

GHG emissions

2015 total territorial GHG emissions (excluding land use change and forestry): 10357 MtCO2

2015 territorial GHG emissions per capita:  7.5 tCO2/person

 2014 CO2 consumption emissions[1]: 9050 MtCO

*GHG territorial emissions are Carbon dioxide emissions from the use of coal, oil and gas (combustion and industrial processes), the process of gas flaring and the manufacture of cement. 

[1] CO2 Emissions | Global Carbon Atlas. (2016) Retrieved from Carbon dioxide emissions occurring anywhere in the world attributed to the country in which goods and services are consumed. For more information see: Section 2.1.2, The global carbon budget 1959-2015, Le Quéré et al. 2016.     


2016 GDP: €9.67 trillion

GDP composition by sector:1

Agriculture: 8.6%
Industry: 39.8%
Services: 51.6%

Agricultural products:2 world leader in gross value of agricultural output; rice, wheat, potatoes, corn, peanuts, tea, millet, barley, apples, cotton, oilseed; pork; fish

Industy subsectors: world leader in gross value of industrial output; mining and ore processing, iron, steel, aluminum, and other metals, coal; machine building; armaments; textiles and apparel; petroleum; cement; chemicals; fertilizers; consumer products (including footwear)

[1] The World Factbook — Central Intelligence Agency. (2017). Retrieved 2 August 2017, from
[2] Ibid

Climate change policies

National policies:

  1. National Plan For Tackling Climate Change 2014-2020 [1]
  2. Energy Development Strategy Action Plan 2014-2020[2]
  3. National Climate Change Adaptation Plan 2013
  4. 12th Five Year Plan (FYP) for 2011–2015
  5. 13th Five Year Plan (FYP) for 2016 – 2020[3]
  6. 13th Five Year Plan on Greenhouse Gas Control Work Plan [4]
  7. China’s 13th Five-Year Plan for Ecological & Environmental Protection 2016-2020[5]
  8. Circular Economy Promotion Plan 2015[6]
  9. Roadmap for Low Carbon Development in 2030 & 2050 (being developed) 

International mitigation targets: 

Ratified UNFCCC in 1993
Ratified Kyoto Protocol in 2002 
Ratified Paris Agreement in 2016

China’s INDC to the UNFCCC:[7]

China has nationally determined its actions by 2030 as follows: 

  • Achieve peak carbon dioxide emissions around 2030 and making best efforts to peak early;
  • Reduce carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 60% to 65% from the 2005 level;
  • Increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20%; and
  • Increase the forest stock volume by around 4.5 billion m3 on the 2005 level.

National Plan For Tackling Climate Change 2014-2020:

By 2020, to cut carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45% from 2005 levels, to increase the percentage of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to 15% and to increase the proportion of forest area and stock volume by 40 million ha and 1.3 million m3 respectively from a 2005 baseline.[9] 

Energy Development Strategy Action Plan 2014-2020: 

  • A cap on annual primary energy consumption set at 4.8bn tons of the standard coal equivalent until 2020, with a need to limit the annual growth rate of primary energy consumption to 3.5% for the next six years. 
  • Coal consumption should be held below 4.2bn tons until 2020, with the main coal consumption reduction focusing on regions around Beijing, the Yangtze River Delta, and the Pearl River Delta.
  • The share of non-fossil fuels in the total primary energy mix is to rise from 9.8% in 2013 to 15% by 2020, with an indicative 20% share by 2030. 
  • Installed capacity of hydro-, wind and solar power in 2020 is expected to reach 350GW, 200GW and 100GW, respectively. Energy self-sufficiency should reach around 85%.[10] 

13th Five-Year Plan on Greenhouse Gas Control Work Plan 2016: 

  • Reiterates goals to reduce China’s carbon intensity (CO2 emissions per unit of GDP) by 18% by 2020 compared to 2015, and reduce energy intensity by 15%. 
  • Increase non-fossil energy to 15% of the energy mix (from 12% at the end of 2015) 
  • Increase forest stock volume and coverage to 16.5 billion m3 (bcm) and 23.04%, from 15.14 bcm and 21.66% as of 2015.
  • Total energy consumption cap target of 5.0 billion tons of coal equivalent and coal consumption cap target of 4.2 billion tons for 2020 (as in the Energy Development Strategy Action Plan 2014-2020)  

Government financing for climate change related initiatives:

  1. China Green Carbon Foundation: to encourage enterprises to invest in carbon offsetting, afforestation, and increasing carbon sinks/sequestration. Managed by the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs, and the competent authority is the State Forestry Administration. (Received EUR 75.2 million in 2012)[11] 
  2. Deepening National Low-carbon Province and Low-carbon City Pilots: 42 pilot provinces and cities in two batches, of which 13 established low-carbon development funds, and 36 have developed carbon reduction targets and assessment mechanisms.[12]
  3. China Clean Development Mechanism Fund (CCDMF)[13]: China spends EUR 76.5 million to support over 200 CDM verified projects on hydropower, wind energy, and biomass energy.
  4.  Carbon Emissions Trading Pilots: China established 7 carbon emissions trading pilot provinces in cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing, Guangdong, Shenzhen and Hubei. China plans to have a national carbon market in 2017.
  5.  Hydrogen Economy Pilot in China (Rugao Project); to facilitate a hydrogen-powered economy with EUR 9.4 million government financing.


[1] National Plan for Tackling Climate Change 2014-2020 (Chinese original)
[2] Energy Development Strategy Action Plan 2014-2020 (Chinese original)
[3] 13th Five Year Plan for 2016-2020 (Chinese original)
[4] 13th Five Year work plan to control GHG emissions (Chinese original)
[5] China’s 13th Five-Year Plan for Ecological & Environmental Protection (Chinese original)
[6] Circular Economy Promotion Plan Law 2015 (Chinese original)
[7] INDCs - Intended Nationally Determined Contributions. 2017. Retrieved from 
China's INDC 2015 (Chinese original)
[9]  National Plan For Tackling Climate Change 2014-2020 | Grantham Research Institute on climate change and the environment. (2017). Retrieved from  
[10]  Energy Development Strategy Action Plan (2014-2020) | Grantham Research Institute on climate change and the environment. (2017). Retrieved 2 August 2017, from 
[11] China Green Carbon Foundation receives $79 mn, creates 120 mn acres of afforestation project - (2012). Retrieved from 
[12] National Development and Reform Commission. (2016). China’s Policies and Actions for Addressing Climate Change (2016). Retrieved from's%20Policies%20and%20Actions%20on%20Climate%20Change%20(2016).pdf 
[13] Change, U. (2014). Momentum for Change China CDM Fund. Retrieved from 

Climate change adaptation efforts

  • National Climate Change Adaptation Plan 2013: To improve overall adaptation capacities, fulfill key adaptation tasks, and form regional adaptation strategies in urban, ecological, and agricultural sectors in various aspects.
  • Action Plan for Forestry to Adapt to Climate Change 2015-2020:[1]Clarifies targets and measures for forestry to adapt to climate change by 2020. In 2014, .25 million hectares and .37 million hectares of afforestation were completed.
  • Wetland and grassland protection and restoration 
  • Agriculture: the government has promoted the transformation and modernization of agricultural production patterns, implemented conservation tillage, and water-saving irrigation, reduced fertilizer use, and improved drought resistance.[2]
  • Water resources: strengthening the management of rivers and lakes to protect water resources, prevention of water loss and soil erosion, and enhancing flood control and drought relief including emergency responses to natural disasters.[3]
  • Disaster prevention and mitigation: carried out the National Comprehensive Disaster Prevention and Reduction Plan 2011-2015, improving disaster management and warning systems, and improving community-based disaster reduction work. 
  • Strengthening the restoration of marine ecology in coastal areas. Drafted the Plan for National Marine Economy Development 2016-2020.
  • Low-carbon development pilot projects: Continuing with low-carbon province and low-carbon city pilots, and carrying out low-carbon industrial park, community and city (town) pilots, and carrying out low-carbon transport system pilots. 
  • Promoting Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) experiments and demonstration. In 2016 the Ministry of Environment issued the Technical Guidelines for CCUS Environmental Risk Assessment (Trial). They have carried out the China-EU Near Zero Emission Coal Project (NZEC) and the China-Australia Geological Storage of CO2 Project

[1] Felicani Robles, F. (2015). Climate change and forestry legislation in support of REDD+. FAO LEGAL PAPERS, No. 92. Retrieved from 

[2] National Development and Reform Commission. (2015). China’s Policies and Actions for Addressing Climate Change (2015).Retrieved from 

[3] Ibid

Climate change impacts

China faces a myriad of climate change challenges due to its varied geography and complex climate. China is a big country with 1.37[1] billion people. In recent years China has experienced more frequent extreme weather events such as floods, landslides, severe droughts, and typhoons. These climatic events have negatively impacted China’s economic growth and numerous people’s livelihoods. In 2014 the IPCC predicted that annual economic losses due to drought would be between EUR 1 and 1.6 billion in northeast China and cost around EUR 850 million in north China.[2] A recent study published in Nature[3] states that China is responsible for 10% of human influence on climate change. China’s climate policies and mitigation efforts have been intensely focussing on energy efficiency and energy reduction. China needs to better integrate adaptation measures to fully address their climate change vulnerabilities while achieving sustainable growth.

Main climate change impacts include:  

  • Desertification and land degradation
  • Water scarcity
  • Air, water, and soil pollution
  • Floods
  • Drought
  • Tropical cyclones
  • Landslides
  • Dust storms  
  • Temperature rise
  • Rising sea levels
  • Biodiversity loss
  • Human health


[1] The World Factbook — Central Intelligence Agency. (2017). Retrieved 2 August 2017, from 
[2] IPCC, 2014: Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Core Writing Team, R.K. Pachauri and L.A. Meyer (eds.)]. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland, 151 pp. Retrieved from 

Economic, social and environmental impacts of climate change

Industry/Manufacturing/Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs):

  • Natural disasters damage buildings and infrastructure.
  • Heat waves can cause machinery damage.
  • High costs of energy and heightened market volatility.
  • Damage to transport systems and logistics routes.
  • Supply chain interruptions and other business disruptions.
  • Health issues from heat waves and increase of disease will cause decreases in labor and work production.

Water resources:

  • Many parts of China have medium to high level of water stress; in particular northern China, which is an arid region and has chronic droughts, such as Beijing, Hebei province, Inner Mongolia Autonomous region, and Shanxi province
  • Harbin, Ningbo, Qingdao and Xuzhou are also water stressed.
  • A study by World Resources Institute found that from 2001 to 2010 the percentage of land area in China facing high and extremely high water stress increased from 28 to 30%, meaning 678 million people live in highly water-stressed areas.[1]
  • Yellow River Basin and Pearl River Delta water has been reduced by industrial and population growth in their surrounding areas, combined with climate change.
  • One-third of China’s lakes and rivers are unfit for irrigation / human use
  • 73% of the watersheds that supply water to large cities have medium to high pollution levels.[2]
  • Water is highly polluted by industrial waste, but also by fertilizers, pesticides and livestock waste.
  • Salt water intrusion is increasing from climate change impacts, and over extraction of ground water and activities such as dredging.


  • Agriculture employs more than 300 million farmers (even though it accounts for only a small share of GDP in China).
  • China has the world’s largest agricultural economy, producing 18% of the world’s cereal grains, 29% of the world’s meat, and nearly 50% of the world’s vegetables.[3]
  • Periods of drought, water scarcity, and natural disasters such as floods, coupled with land degradation and soil pollution has reduced China’s agricultural productivity.
  • Declines in China’s agricultural production has consequences not only for China’s domestic food security but food security and food prices worldwide – fruit and vegetable prices rise in flood-affected areas.
  • A 2014 study showed that climate change led to a net economic loss of about EUR 188.9 million to China’s corn and soybean sectors in the past decade, and that corn and soybean yields are projected to decline by 4-14% and 8-21% by 2100.[4]
  • The rice sector suffered an economic loss of EUR 23.8 million to EUR 57.3 million in the past decade, caused by weather variability exacerbated by climate change and rising temperatures.[5]


  • Infrastructure has contributed around 70% to China’s growth since 1952.
  • Infrastructure in central, eastern and southern provinces are most vulnerable. i.e. power plants and transport systems are very vulnerable to damage and services disruptions by flooding and cyclones.[6]
  • In the northwest, higher temperatures will affect infrastructure such as roads and construction.[7]


  • Rising temperatures and heat waves will cause heat-related illness or death
  • Increase of infectious and water-borne diseases, such as dengue fever; flooding increases incidences of diarrheal deaths in children
  • Air pollution, especially of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), has caused large increases in cardiovascular and respiratory infections and lung disease.   

 Climatic extremes/disasters:

  • Under a high emissions scenario, it is projected that by 2030, 1.2 million additional people may be at risk of river floods annually.[8]
  • In 2016 there were estimated economic losses of more than EUR 40.6 billion due to floods.[9] Large projects such as the Three Gorges Dam are also at risk.
  • Approximately 154 million people (11.4%) of the PRC population of 1.35 billion, plus infrastructure, are located in low-elevation coastal zones and are highly vulnerable to flooding and storm surge.[10]
  •  Flood risk projections show an average increase of 10% by 2030; coastal flooding is impacted by sea level rise, precipitation, and storms.



International cooperation on climate change

Status: 2017. Inclusive of grants and loans; not an exhaustible list.


No. of Projects

Program /Areas of focus

Funding Amount


Funding Sources

Global Environment Facility



Biodiversity, Climate change, land degradation, chemicals and waste, international waters, Persistent Organic Pollutants





GEF Trust Fund

Special Climate Change Fund







Strengthening the Management Effectiveness of the Protected Area Landscape in Altai Mountains and Wetlands




Chinese Government, GEF

Strengthening the Effectiveness of the Wetland Protected Area (PA) System in Hubei Province




Chinese Government, GEF

Strengthening the Effectiveness of the Protected Area System in Anhui Province, China to Conserve Globally Important Biodiversity




Chinese Government, GEF

Strengthening the Management Effectiveness of the Protected Areas (PA) Network in Daxing’anling Landscape




Chinese Government, GEF, UNDP

World Bank



GEF Mainstreaming Integrated Water and Environment Management

€98.23 Million



World Bank

Innovative Financing for Air Pollution Control in Jing-Jin-Ji

€472.27 Million


Landscape Approach to Wildlife Conservation in Northeast China

€19.36 Million


Hebei Clean Heating Project

€94.45 Million


Guilin Integrated Environment Management Project 

€94.45 Million


Asian Development Bank (ADB)



Jiangxi Xinyu Kongmu River Watershed Flood Control and Environmental Improvement Project


€141.68 Million



Air Quality Improvement in the Greater Beijing–Tianjin–Hebei Region—China National Investment and Guaranty Corporation’s Green Financing Platform Project

€471.89 Million loan



ADB, Bank of Beijing

Integrated Wastewater Management Project

€236.14 Million

2017 – ongoing


Study on Natural Resource Asset Appraisal and Management System for the National Key Ecological Function Zones

€377.82 Million


Technical Assistance Fund

International Climate Initiative (IKI)



capacity building in low carbon development, clean energy, biodiversity protection, etc.



German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB)

UN REDD Program


REDD+-related activities

and climate change



UN REDD, Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, IKI, Government Australia, Government  of Norway

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH. (GIZ)


Climate Change Mitigation through Low Carbon Compound Projects in Jiangsu’s Cities

€3.5 Million


Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB)

Sino-German Cooperation on Low Carbon Transport

€ 3.5 Million


Sino-German Forest Policy Dialogue Support - pilot phase



Capacity Building for the Establishment of Emission Trading Schemes (ETS) in China

€6.5 Million