19th National Congress Reaffirms China’s Commitment to Climate Action, Sustainable Development
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The 19th CPC National Congress sent strong signals of Chinese domestic policy schemes seeking to pursue sustainable growth.

It also encouraged global actions on climate change and environmental governance ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference.

According to Minister of Environmental Protection Li Ganjie, China is committed to meeting its air quality goals by 2035, achieving “a fundamental improvement in the environment”.

23 October 2017: During the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), President Xi Jinping reaffirmed China’s commitment to climate action and sustainable development. He emphasized that China will continue to cooperate with other countries to tackle climate change, and that stepping up efforts on low-carbon development is in line with the country’s long-term sustainability strategies and development priorities.

The recently concluded 19th CPC National Congress is a twice-per-decade event to elect China’s leadership, guide its development paths, and set national policy goals. Since the 18th CPC National Congress included “green development” in the CPC’s constitution five years ago, China has been actively engaged in international cooperation on climate change, aiming to become “an important participant, contributor and torchbearer in the global efforts towards an ecological civilization.”

The 19th CPC National Congress sent strong signals of Chinese domestic policy schemes seeking to pursue sustainable growth. It also encouraged global actions on climate change and environmental governance ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference, taking place in Bonn, Germany, from 6-17 November.

The Report of the 19th CPC National Congress demonstrates that China’s economy is transitioning from a phase of rapid growth to a stage of “high-quality development,” highlighting quality growth as a priority, as opposed to high-speed or large-scale development.

Xi’s government placed greater priority on sustainability issues, including air quality, water and waste management, ecological conservation and restoration, and land use. Describing natural resources as “invaluable assets,” the National Congress Report outlines four major policy goals for sustainable development: (1) to develop a green and low-carbon economic system; (2) to resolve key environmental issues, including pollution; (3) to double efforts on ecological conservation and restoration; and (4) to strengthen regulatory systems and monitoring schemes.

The Report demonstrates that China’s economy is transitioning from a phase of rapid growth to a stage of “high-quality development,” highlighting quality growth as a priority, as opposed to high-speed or large-scale development. According to a Xinhua News Commentary, this can help the country “focus on implementing new development concepts of innovation, coordination, greening, opening up and inclusiveness.”

In order to achieve these policy goals, China will adopt both regulatory and market-based approaches, with a focus on strengthening economic incentives. In a press conference on the 19th CPC National Congress, Yang Weiming, Vice Minister of the Central Leading Group on Financial and Economic Affairs, stated: “Since the government strengthened regulations on and monitoring of [ecological protection and environmental governance], market-based mechanisms have not yet played an equally significant role.”

According to Minister of Environmental Protection Li Ganjie, China also intends to meet its air quality goals by 2035. “By 2035, there will be fundamental improvement in the environment, and [President Xi’s] goal of building a beautiful China will basically be attained,” he said. [19th National Congress of the CPC Report (in Chinese)] [Press Conference on the 19th National Congress] [Xinhua News Press Release on China’s Quality Growth] [Xinhua News Press Release on Press Conference on the 19th CPC National Congress (in Chinese)] [Xinhua News Press Release on China’s Air Quality Goals (in Chinese)][SDG Knowledge Hub story on China’s National Plan to Implement the SDGs]


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