The Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang, has announced China’s 13th Five Year Plan to the 12th National People’s Congress. The announcement was made on March 5, and adopted on March 16, with the Plan giving the top priority to economic development and a projection of a healthy GDP growth rate of 6.5% to 7% over the next five years.
Additionally, at the same time the Plan is looking to the environment and capping carbon emissions, consumption of water and energy, and has clearly defined targets to eliminate those industries which are inefficient or outdated, and to develop a greener infrastructure with an increase in the production of renewable energy.
Following the Climate Change Convention held by the United Nations in Paris in December last year, China has now stated that by 2020 the country will aim to cut its carbon emissions by 18% from the level measured at the end of 2015.
In addition China will also try to reduce its consumption of energy per unit of GDP by 15% over the same time period. This will not be easy to achieve and in order to reach the target the Plan has a series of mileposts on an annual basis which include moving the production of energy from coal to renewable energy wherever possible and closing down those coal fired production units which do not meet the standards. China also hopes to increase the supply of natural gas and supplement this with wind, solar, and biomass options for energy.
The Plan also aims to cut air pollution with a decrease in emissions, and to help with this there will be restrictions on open burning and an increase in forestation. Another way to assist with the reduction in air pollution will be an increase in electric vehicles, a reduction in high emission vehicles and new limits set on vehicle emissions.
In relation to water, there are goals for both the quality of water and the consumption level, with improvements in sewage facilities in urban areas, and an increase in the treatment rates of wastewater in both urban and rural areas. It is aimed to decrease water contamination by cutting back on chemical fertilizers in agriculture and working with heavy industries in waste product disposal.
As well as concentrating on environmental issues China aims to improve its railways, urban rail transit and roads with major investments and to promote the use of more advanced information technology throughout the country.