In China, climate change and environmental pollution mitigation research has been playing an increasingly important role, especially since 2012 when President Xi formalized the concept of “ecological civilization”. Numerous organizations are conducting research into the environmental effects of economic development. They can be divided into four categories:
- Government-funded think tanks which research informs macro socio-economic policies, i.e. the Chinese Academies of Sciences (CAS) and of Social Sciences (CASS)
- Ministry-level strategic research entities, e.g. the National Center for Climate Change Strategy & International Cooperation (NCSC) under the Ministry of Ecology & Environmental Protection
- Universities and relevant departments
- Private, not-for-profit organisations such as the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE)
The Academies are national academic research organizations, providing advisory services on issues stemming from the national economy, social development, as well as science and technology progress. Influential scholars shape broad strategies regarding China’s long-term macroeconomic development. For example, Jiahua Pan, Dean of the Urban Development and Environmental Studies Institute of CASS, has been exploring the increasing conflict between the demand for economic growth and the already fragile ecological system in China. He seeks to show a pathway forward to reconcile urbanization, industrialization, increasing energy and resource consumption with environmental protection through achieving “ecological civilization”. His 2014 book “China’s Environmental Governing and Ecological Civilization” provides an ideological basis for a low-carbon model of economic growth.
Yi Wang, Deputy Director-General of the Institute of Policy and Management at CAS, focuses his research on strategic issues regarding sustainable development, e.g. climate change and energy. During a recent energy forum, he alluded that China’s 14th Five–Year Plan will continue to promote low-carbon development, but he also called for low carbon considerations to be part of a green post-pandemic recovery plan which should include the acceleration of the energy reform a clear timeline for phasing out coal.
The Ministry of Ecology and Environment’s National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation is a platform for international cooperation on climate change response. It develops climate change policies, regulations and strategies. A recent study “Progress and recommendations from national near-zero carbon emission pilot zones” summarizes lessons from projects in 7 regions. The pilots were set up to test and demonstrate effectiveness of emission reducing technologies in diverse communities and across multiple areas, e.g. industry, energy, transportation, construction, consumption, and ecology, to promote emission reducing innovation. The study recommends improvements for future pilots, e.g. unified standards, clear timelines, milestones and regulatory guidelines, financial and fiscal incentives.
National research is complemented by work of private research organizations and local universities. The Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE) is dedicated to collecting and analyzing government and corporate environmental information. IPE publishes the Supply Chain Climate Action SCTI Index which monitors and evaluates corporate action on climate change mitigation and operates the Blue Map database which gives the public access environmental data. Local universities are often involved in applied research focusing on regionally unique issues, e.g. chemical effluent management in provinces with large chemical parks such as Shanghai.
Activity Rating: **** Moving Forward
China has a plethora of research institutions, private and public, concerned with research, monitoring, analyzing and reporting of the effects of climate change, environmental degradation etc. Given the nature of China’s system being based on state planning in all aspects of human life, research integrating the effects of environmental degradation, climate change, biodiversity loss etc. with concepts of the countries socioeconomic development is heavily supported by the government. Funding is available and accessible. Supplemented by a plethora of non-governmental organizations concerned with monitoring, recording and reporting, China’s climate change research and education is very much alive and thriving.
Dear Professor Pan/Mr. Ma,
Congratulations on the prolific and highly relevant research you and your organization are doing to further China’s leadership role with regard to combatting climate change. I hope that urgent requirements like phasing out coal and an energy market reform will find entry into the next generation of Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Climate Agreement as well as the upcoming 14th Five-Year Plan.
Prof. Jiahua Pan
@ Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urban Development and Environmental Studies Institute /
Address: 6F, Tower A, Guomen Building,
12 Jingan East Rd.
Beijing, Chaoyang District,
National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation /
4F Environmental Convention Compliance Building
No. 5, Houyingfang Hutong, Xicheng District
Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs
Mr. Jun Ma
Pan, Jiahua; “China’s Environmental Governing and Ecological Civilization”
National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation; “Progress and policy recommendations from China’s near-zero carbon emission zone pilot projects”
This Post is submitted by Climate Scorecard China Country Manager Annette Wiedenbach