5 Most Important Things to Know About China’s 5-Year Plan
By Geoffrey Henderson, Ranping Song and Paul Joffe
China has officially unveiled its thirteenth Five-Year Plan, which will guide the country's economic and social development from 2016 through 2020. This latest edition builds on progress made over the last five years and makes clear that environmental stewardship is an increasingly integral component of China's development.
The plan lays out targets and measures to address several sustainability challenges—including climate change, air pollution, water, urbanization, transportation and more. The new plan's high-level targets and policies will continue to strengthen China's efforts to shift to a more sustainable model of growth and deliver on its climate commitments.
Here's a look at the highlights and importance of the plan for China's action on energy and climate change:
1. What are the highlights of the plan for energy and climate?
China plans to develop its economy by more than 6.5 percent per year over the next five years. Under the plan, this growth will increasingly come from services—which will rise from 50.5 to 56 percent of the economy by 2020—and more innovative and efficient manufacturing. These sectors typically have lower air pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions than China's traditional growth engines, like heavy industry and infrastructure construction.
The plan sets out a new round of targets for the carbon and energy intensity of China's economy. With China's new target for an 18 percent reduction in carbon-intensity from 2015 levels, we estimate that China will actually reduce its carbon intensity 48 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, exceeding its original target of a 40-45 percent reduction by that year. It will also be a first step toward achieving its Paris agreement pledge to reduce carbon intensity 60 to 65 percent by 2030. The plan also includes a goal to reduce energy intensity by 15 percent, suggests that China's most-developed eastern regions will be the first to peak their carbon emissions and builds on efforts to increase China's forest stock.
For the first time, the plan includes quantified guidance on energy consumption control, stating that China should limit its energy use to 5 billion tons of standard coal equivalent. As energy is the largest source of carbon emissions, limiting energy consumption is an important component of China's implementation of its Paris commitments. This guidance seems to be an effort to ensure an upper limit on energy consumption, as there are signs that China's energy use could be lower than 5 billion tons in 2020. Growth in China's energy use has slowed in recent years and China has the potential to achieve its economic goals with less energy through energy efficiency initiatives.
2. Why are these targets important?
The new targets in the plan underscore the fact that the country is no longer merely concerned with the pace of growth, but with the quality of growth. China's efforts on sustainable development and climate action are driven by strong national interests, such as concern about the impacts of climate change, hazardous air pollution and energy security. There's also evidence that China's leaders recognize the economic benefits of clean energy and that new drivers will be required for the economy to continue its rapid economic growth.
To achieve these targets, the plan calls for controlling emissions from energy-intensive industries like power and steel, building a unified national carbon emissions trading market, implementing emissions reporting and verification for key industries and establishing a green finance system, among other measures. The plan also states that China will be actively involved in the global effort to address climate change, including advancing its own contribution and will deepen its bilateral dialogue with other countries. These efforts will provide momentum toward stronger climate action both in China and internationally.
3. What are other signs of China's progress on climate to date?
China has already made substantial progress under the 12th Five-Year Plan, surpassing its targets for energy intensity (down 18.2 percent) and carbon intensity (down 20 percent), according to official figures. Services' share of China's economy has risen in recent years, eclipsing manufacturing's share in 2013. Consumption of coal leveled off in 2014 and output in heavy industries like steel and cement has begun to decline. Further, China is investing in clean energy and installing wind and solar power at world-record levels, making the country the global leader in solar power capacity last year.
4. Does the plan contain all the details?
The Five-Year Plan released this week can be thought of as China's overarching plan, which provides the broad contours of its policies for the next five years. But don't expect all the details of China's low-carbon transition to be apparent in this broad plan. Follow-on plans to be released in the coming months and years will provide more detailed targets and policies for specific provinces and sectors, such as energy.
5. What challenges remain?
Along with the above-mentioned carbon-intensity pledge, China's Paris commitments include a target to peak carbon emissions in 2030 and to make best efforts to peak earlier. While making progress, the country's effort to decouple emissions from economic growth at its present stage of development faces continuing uncertainties. For instance, China's work to further strengthen measures to improve efficiency and reduce demand in buildings and transportation (including through efforts on high-speed rail laid out in the plan) will be important to offset potential emissions growth from China's trends toward increased urbanization and vehicle ownership.
Studies make clear that the commitments made by countries do not go far enough to limit warming to below 2 C and avoid some of the worst impacts of climate change. In Paris, countries agreed to come back to the table by 2020 to review their targets. If significant progress were made on addressing remaining challenges during the next five years, then China could be in a position to revise its pledge.
At the same time, the debate over the precise timing of China's emissions peak may be less important than its continuing efforts to build a foundation for deep emissions reductions over the long term. China is continuing to develop and implement measures that can help achieve this goal, such as limits on coal and energy use, energy efficiency improvements, renewable energy deployment and grid integration, carbon pricing and steps to shift toward a cleaner model of development. The energy and other sectoral plans following the national Five-Year Plan will provide further opportunities to make progress on these efforts.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
- 29 Wildfires Blaze Across the West, Fueled by Drought and Wind ... ›
- Large Wildfires Scorch Forests in Drought-Stricken Southwest ... ›
Accessibility to quality health care has dropped for millions of Americans who lost their health insurance due to unemployment. mixetto / E+ / Getty Images
Accessibility to quality health care has dropped for millions of Americans who lost their health insurance due to unemployment. New research has found that 5.4 million Americans were dropped from their insurance between February and May of this year. In that three-month stretch more Americans lost their coverage than have lost coverage in any entire year, according to The New York Times.
- Trump Plans to End Federal Funding for COVID-19 Testing Sites ... ›
- 'Unfathomable Cruelty': Trump Admin Asks Supreme Court to ... ›
On hot days in New York City, residents swelter when they're outside and in their homes. The heat is not just uncomfortable. It can be fatal.
- Extreme Heat-Stressed Locations Could Increase by 80% - EcoWatch ›
- African Americans Are Disproportionately Exposed to Extreme Heat ... ›
- Extreme Heat Is Killing Americans While Government Neglect ... ›
Fracking companies are going bankrupt at a rapid pace, often with taxpayer-funded bonuses for executives, leaving harm for communities, taxpayers, and workers, the New York Time reports.
- Plunging Oil Prices Trigger Economic Downturn in Fracking Boom ... ›
- Fracking Boom Bursts in Face of Low Oil Prices - EcoWatch ›
- As Fracking Companies Face Bankruptcy, U.S. Regulators Enable ... ›
A report scheduled for release later Tuesday by Congress' non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds that the Trump administration undervalues the costs of the climate crisis in order to push deregulation and rollbacks of environmental protections, according to The New York Times.
- Under Trump, EPA Workers Seek Bill of Rights to Allow Them to ... ›
- Trump Adds 'Tasteless Insult to Injury' by Pushing Fossil Fuel ... ›
By Kristen Fischer
It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
Should Kids Go Back?<p>While these guidelines may help get some schools to reopen, many people don't think children should go back to school over fears they could contract the disease and spread it to other vulnerable family members like grandparents, infant siblings, or their parents.</p><p>In a <a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/07/08/peds.2020-004879" target="_blank">Pediatrics</a> commentary, <a href="https://www.md.com/doctor/william-raszka-md" target="_blank">Dr. William V. Raszka, Jr.</a>, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center, argued that schools should open because school-aged children are far less important drivers of COVID-19 than adults.</p><p>But he says the risk and benefit is not equal among all students ages 5 to 18.</p><p>"Elementary schools are arguably higher priority for face-to-face schooling, since younger children are at lower risk for infection and transmission, and since parental supervision of younger children's distance learning may be particularly challenging," added Sorensen, who penned a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2767411" target="_blank">June article in JAMA</a> with reopening tips. "That means middle and high schools are more likely to emphasize distance learning."</p><p>Specific student populations, such as special education students and students with disabilities, would also benefit greatly from more time spent in face-to-face environments, Sorensen said.</p>
What Parents Can Do<p>Parents should ask for and receive frequent updates from schools about plans for the fall. They should also be informed about plans if and when COVID infections are identified, Sharfstein said.</p><p>"I'd like to see parents investing now, during the summer, in doing things that can slow and stop the spread of the virus in their communities," Widome said.</p><p>"Now is a good time for kids to practice wearing masks and get used to them as they may be wearing them for longer stretches if school starts up in person," Widome suggested.</p><p>She recommends parents try different mask designs and materials to see what children are more comfortable wearing.</p><p>"If you are using cloth face coverings, it's good to have extras on hand," Widome added.</p><p>Parents should model healthy behavior at home and while out in public — another thing that could affect how well children adapt to reopening practices, Sorensen said.</p><p>"Children may want to know more about face coverings," added <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/leescott/" target="_blank">Lee Scott</a>, chairwoman of the Educational Advisory Board at <a href="https://www.goddardschool.com/" target="_blank">The Goddard School</a>. "Dramatic play, such as creating or wearing a face covering, may help some children adjust to this concept." Schools can also show children photos of what faculty members look like in their masks so the students are familiar with that appearance.</p><p>Johns Hopkins University recently released its eSchool+ Initiative, a slew of resources surrounding education during the pandemic. These include a <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-checklist/" target="_blank">checklist for administrators</a>, report on <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/ethics-of-reopening/" target="_blank">ethical considerations</a>, and a tracker of <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-policy-tracker/" target="_blank">state and local reopening plans</a>.</p>
- Trump Admin Rejects CDC Reopening Guidelines - EcoWatch ›
- How Do You Stay Safe Now That States Are Reopening? - EcoWatch ›
- Florida Breaks U.S. Daily Record With Over 15,000 New ... ›
By Eoin Higgins
Over 300 groups on Monday urged Senate leadership to reject a bill currently under consideration that would incentivize communities to sell off their public water supplies to private companies for pennies on the dollar.
<div id="fea63" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9a6f211c2bc5aedd34837944cb8eeedf"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1281000111481294849" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Water in Illinois is overwhelmingly public. Why is Tammy Duckworth sponsoring a bill that aims to change that? https://t.co/1V36Kkd99s</div> — The American Prospect (@The American Prospect)<a href="https://twitter.com/TheProspect/statuses/1281000111481294849">1594249201.0</a></blockquote></div>
- DNC Ignores Progressive Climate Activists - EcoWatch ›
- Who's a Climate Champion and Who's a Climate Disaster? - EcoWatch ›