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Sustainable development in China


This year’s United Nations Rio+20 Earth Summit, to be attended by leaders from over 190 nations, will focus upon two themes; green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and the institutional framework for sustainable development. The ultimate goal of the summit is to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development and in doing so improve people’s living standards. However, after the collapse of the Kyoto Protocol, 20 years after the first Earth Summit in Rio, Brazil, China now sits alongside America as one of the world’s largest global polluters.

According to Xinhua, China believes that the final text of this year’s summit must adhere to three principles:

1、Common but differentiated responsibilities;

2、The balanced development of society, economy and environmental protection

3、The guaranteed right of each country to choose its own road of sustainable development according to its circumstances.



As Sara Reardon of the New Scientist has pointed out, the Yangtze floods of 1998 provided the Chinese government with undeniable proof that it could no longer ignore the cost of destroying its natural resources.

1、The country is on track to restoring 40 million hectares of forest by 2020.

2、The reforestation scheme also shows that the government provides farmers with an economismogc incentive to move off sloping land so that forests can grow back.

3、Add to this the desire to create green jobs via a scheme carried out in cooperation with the International Labor Organization; the country’s fuel economy standards, which have improved overall fuel efficiency across cars of all weight classes.

4、The national climate change program, which vows to adopt laws to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It becomes apparent that China is taking an active role in promoting the concept of sustainable development with long term economic and environmental goals in mind.


World Bank vice president for sustainable development, Rachel Kyte has stated that “Our current economic model is enormously inefficient in the way it does or doesn’t use resources. We need a different kind of growth, a greener more inclusive growth.”China’s need for resources will continue as it seeks further economic development, but it is slowly changing its approach to development which has caused significant damage to the natural environment.

The recent White Paper on Rare Earths, released by the Chinese government on June 20, states that China will not sacrifice the environment for the sake of rare earth development. Production caps, export quotas, stricter emission standards and higher resource taxes all tie in with the goal of building a green economy and strengthening the institutional framework of sustainable development.Furthermore, many have voiced to call for more attention on water and air pollution. China has some way to go in both of these areas, but the introduction of payment systems aimed at saving pollute rivers and the adoption of the PM 2.5 standard to measure air quality are clear signs of the direction in which the Chinese nation is hoping to move in.

1、The goals outlined in China’s Twelfth Five Year Plan include using non-fossil fuel to account for 11.4 percent of primary energy consumption;Severe smog and air pollution in Beijing

2、cutting water consumption per unit of value-added output by 30 percent;

3、cutting energy consumption per unit of GDP by 16 percent;

4、cutting carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 17 percent;

5、increasing the rate of forest coverage to 21.66 percent.


Resource cited from: http://english.cri.cn/6909/2012/06/21/2021s707702.htm / http://www.iisd.org/china

Personal perspective: These policy have been carried out for a period, although the effect are not as perfect as people’s expectation and still exist a lot of potential problem and insufficiency, the improvement of environment and economic have appeared and appropriate balance between them are required joint effort to build up.


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