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Full text: China's Green Development in the New Era

Xinhua | January 19, 2023


IV. Extensive Application of Green Production Methods

China has accelerated the building of a green, circular, and low-carbon economy. It practices green production methods, promotes the energy revolution, the economical and intensive use of resources, and cleaner production, and pursues synergy in the reduction of pollution and carbon emissions. All these efforts have contributed to the coordinated development and balanced progress of the economy, society, and environmental protection.

1. Promoting the green transformation of traditional industries

In order to build a green, circular, and low-carbon production system, China has integrated the concept of green development into the entire life cycles of industry, agriculture and the service sector. To conserve energy, reduce emissions, raise efficiency, and facilitate the comprehensive green transformation of traditional industries, China has encouraged innovations in technology, models, and standards.

Promoting the green development of industry. China is committed to establishing a green manufacturing system, and creating green factories, green industrial parks, green supply chains, and green product evaluation standards. In order to accelerate the building of green industrial chains and supply chains, China provides guidance for enterprises to achieve innovations in the design of green products and adopt green, low-carbon and eco-friendly processes and equipment, and optimizes the spatial lay-out of enterprises, industries and infrastructure in industrial parks. Following the principles of "coupling of industries, extended responsibility of enterprises, and circular use of resources", it has promoted the transformation of industrial parks, circular combination of industries and circular production in enterprises. China has transformed its major industries to achieve clean production, and carried out comprehensive inspections of clean production. It has promoted digital transformation across the board. The digital control rate of key processes in key areas increased from 24.6 percent in 2012 to 55.3 percent in 2021, and the penetration rate of digital R&D and design tools increased from 48.8 percent to 74.7 percent in the same period. By the end of 2021, China hosted a total of 2,783 green factories, 223 green industrial parks, and 296 green supply chain management enterprises. The manufacturing sector has been significantly upgraded for green production.

Transforming the production methods of agriculture. China has created new systems and mechanisms for the green development of agriculture, expanded the functions of agriculture, explored the diversified rural values, and strengthened the protection and efficient use of agricultural resources. It has gradually improved the farmland protection system and the system of fallowing and crop rotation, put permanent basic cropland under special protection, and thereby made initial progress in containing the decline in the size of farmland. It has steadily advanced the conservation of chernozem soil. The quality of farmland has been upgraded steadily throughout the country. Measures have been taken to save water for agricultural irrigation and reduce the volume of chemical fertilizers and pesticides used by targeting higher efficiency. In 2021, the irrigation efficiency was raised to 0.568. China has developed a circular agricultural economy by promoting circular agricultural production modes — integrating planting and breeding with processing, farming and animal husbandry with fishing, and production and processing with marketing. It has increased the utilization of agricultural waste as a resource. It has taken a coordinated approach to promoting green and organic agricultural products, products with quality certifications and those with geographical indications, cultivating new breeds, improving product quality, fostering agricultural brands and standardizing agricultural production. China has implemented programs to protect agricultural products with geographical indications. There are now 60,000 types of green food and organic agricultural products across the country. The quality and safety standards of agricultural products have been steadily upgraded. The supply of high-quality agricultural products has increased significantly, which has effectively contributed to the upgrading of the whole industry, and generated higher incomes for farmers.

Advancing the green transformation of the service sector. China has actively cultivated green firms of business circulation, and launched a campaign to create green shopping malls. Nationwide, a total of 592 green shopping malls had been built by the end of 2021. China has continued to improve the energy efficiency of the information service industry, with some world-leading green data centers. To accelerate the reduction, standardization and recycling of express delivery packages, it has upgraded and improved the express delivery packaging standard system. To promote the green development of e-commerce enterprises, it has given guidance for producers and consumers to use renewable and degradable express delivery packages. By the end of 2021, 80.5 percent of e-commerce parcels were free of secondary packaging, all express delivery packages were sealed with thinner (45mm) tape, and all transit bags used in the sector were renewable.

China has promoted the green development of the convention and exhibition industry by formulating green standards and facilitating the repeated use of facilities. China has significantly reduced paper usage by introducing electronic railway tickets nationwide and encouraging electronic invoicing. In the catering industry, disposable tableware is being phased out. Guest houses and hotels have been encouraged not to offer disposable items as part of their services.

2. Promoting green and low-carbon energy

China applies the principle of building the new before discarding the old in a well-planned way. With growing capacity to ensure energy supply, it has moved faster to build a new energy system. The proportion of clean energy sources has increased significantly. Success has been achieved in the green and low-carbon transformation of the country's energy mix.

Vigorously developing non-fossil energy. China has made rapid progress in building large-scale wind and photovoltaic power stations on infertile and rocky terrain and in deserts. It has steadily developed offshore wind farms, actively promoted rooftop photovoltaic power generation in urban and rural areas, and encouraged distributed wind power generation in rural areas. China has built a structured matrix of large hydropower stations in the basins of major rivers, especially those in the southwest. In accordance with local conditions, it has developed solar, biomass, geothermal and ocean energy, and power generation through urban solid waste incineration. It has developed nuclear power in a safe and orderly manner. Committed to innovation-driven development, China has worked on developing hydrogen energy. It has accelerated the construction of a new power system to adapt to the steady increase in the proportion of new energy. To promote the efficient use of renewable energy, it has carried out appraisals of relevant parties' performance in meeting the set goals for consumption of power generated from renewable energy. The proportion of clean energy sources in total energy consumption increased from 14.5 percent in 2012 to 25.5 percent by the end of 2021, and the proportion of coal decreased from 68.5 percent to 56 percent over the same period. The installed capacity of renewable energy was more than one billion kilowatts, accounting for 44.8 percent of China's overall installed capacity. The installed capacity of hydropower, wind power, and photovoltaic power each exceeded 300 million kilowatts, all ranking the highest in the world.

Advancing the clean and efficient use of fossil energy. To promote the clean and low-carbon development of coal-fired power, China has upgraded coal-fired power plants to conserve resources, reduce carbon emissions and make their operation more flexible, and transformed heating facilities. It has implemented stricter energy-saving standards for newly- installed coal-fired generating units. The efficiency and pollutant control levels of these units are on par with the most advanced international standards. China has promoted clean end-use energy by replacing coal with natural gas, electricity, and renewable energy. It has actively supported clean heating in winter in northern China. It has made the use of natural gas more efficient in urban areas, as well as in industrial fuel, power generation, and transport, and promoted natural gas combined cooling, heating, and power (CCHP). It has launched a campaign to upgrade the quality of refined oil products. In less than 10 years China achieved the upgrading that took developed countries 30-plus years, and its refined oil products are now of the best quality by international standards. As a result, vehicle pollutant discharge has been effectively reduced.


3. Building a green transport network

The transport sector is one that consumes a large amount of energy and generates significant pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions. This is an area that deserves more attention in the pursuit of green development. By upgrading the energy efficiency of transport equipment, China has accelerated the building of a green transport network, with optimizing the structure of energy consumption and improving the efficiency of organization as its priorities, so that transport will be more eco-friendly, and travel will be more low-carbon.

Optimizing the structure of transport. China has accelerated the construction of special railway lines, promoted the shift of freight transport from road to railway and waterway, and encouraged intermodal transport. In 2021, the railway and waterway freight volume accounted for 24.56 percent of the total in China, an increase of 3.85 percentage points over 2012. China has also emphasized the strategy of giving priority to urban public transport. By the end of 2021, there were 275 urban rail transit lines in operation in 51 cities, with a total track length of more than 8,700 kilometers. The length of exclusive bus lanes increased from 5,256 kilo-meters in 2012 to 18,264 kilometers in 2021.

Promoting the green transformation of transport vehicles. China has vigorously promoted the use of new-energy vehicles in public transport, taxi service, environmental sanitation, logistics, distribution, civil aviation, airports, and Party and government institutions. By the end of 2021, the number of China's registered new energy vehicles had reached 7.84 million, accounting for about half of the global figure. There were 508,900 new energy buses, accounting for 71.7 percent of the total number of buses in China. There were 207,800 new energy taxis. China has continued the green transformation of mobile railway equipment. The proportion of internal combustion locomotives decreased from 51 percent in 2012 to 36 percent in 2021. China has also updated the pollutant discharge standards gas (LNG) powered boats and transformation of shore power facilities, and accelerated the transformation or elimination of obsolete vehicles and boats. Since 2012, more than 30 million yellow-label vehicles with high emissions have been eliminated, and 47,100 obsolete inland river boats have been re-engineered or mothballed.

Upgrading transport infrastructure for green development. China has initiated a special program for the construction of green highways, and the recycling of waste road surface materials. By the end of 2021, more than 95 percent of the waste materials from expressways and 80 percent of the waste materials from national and provincial highways had been recycled. China has steadily improved afforestation along its roads. Green belts have been built along 570,000 kilometers of its trunk roads, about 200,000 kilometers more than in 2012. China has continued the electrification of its railways, with the proportion of electric railways increasing from 52.3 percent in 2012 to 73.3 percent in 2021. It has also built more green port and road transport support facilities. By the end of 2021, five types of shore power facilities had been built in 75 percent of the specialized berths of major ports, and 13,374 charging piles had been built in expressway service areas — the highest number in the world.


4. Promoting the economical and intensive use of resources

As a country with a great demand for resources, China has accelerated the fundamental change in the way resources are utilized. To make a major contribution to the sustainable development of global resources and the environment, and to ensure a happy life for the people today as well as sufficient resources to meet the needs of future generations, China tries to obtain the maximum social and economic benefits at a minimum cost in resources and the environment.

Improving the efficiency of energy use. China is exercising better control over the amount and intensity of energy consumption, particularly the consumption of fossil fuels. It has vigorously promoted technical, managerial, and structural energy conservation, to constantly improve the efficiency of energy use. It has initiated campaigns for all industrial enterprises, especially the big consumers of energy, to save energy, reduce carbon emissions, and improve the efficiency of energy use. The "forerunners" have been encouraged to play an exemplary role for other enterprises. China has organized the transformation of energy-intensive industries such as steel, power generation, and chemicals, to help them save energy and reduce carbon emissions. It has also strengthened the energy-saving management of key energy consumers, to enable large and medium-sized enterprises in key industries to reach advanced international levels in energy efficiency. Since 2012, China's average annual economic growth of 6.6 percent has been supported by an average annual growth of 3 percent in energy consumption, and the energy consumption per RMB10,000 of GDP in 2021 was 26.4 percent lower than in 2012.

Improving the efficiency of water utilization. China has imposed increasingly rigid constraints on water use. Industrial and urban configurations are determined scientifically in accordance with water availability. China has launched nationwide water-saving campaigns to control the total amount and intensity of water consumption. It has upgraded water-saving technologies for industries with high water consumption, and promoted highly water-efficient irrigation for agriculture. It has advocated the building of water-saving cities, established a water efficiency labeling system, introduced certification standards for water conservation products, and promoted the use of water-saving products and appliances. The comprehensive per capita water consumption in cities is falling steadily. China has also incorporated unconventional water sources, such as reclaimed water, desalinated seawater, collected rainwater, brackish water, and mine water, into the unified allocation of water resources, which has effectively eased the strain on demand in areas with a shortage of water. Water consumption per RMB10,000 of GDP in 2021 was 45 percent lower than in 2012.

Strengthening the economical and intensive use of land. China has improved the standards for urban and rural land use. The designation, standards and approval of land use for all kinds of construction projects are strictly controlled, and the economical and intensive use of land in the construction of transport, energy, and water infrastructure is encouraged. China has strengthened the management of rural land, and promoted the economical and intensive use of rural land for collective construction projects. It has also established mechanisms for coordinating the use of existing land resources and made the arrangements for additional resources, and for recovering idle land, in order to put all existing land resources to good use. From 2012 to 2021, the area of land designated for construction projects per unit of GDP decreased by 40.85 percent.

Making scientific use of marine resources. China has strictly controlled land reclamation from the sea. It has prohibited all coastal reclamation activities except those for major national projects, and dealt with problems left over from history in this regard with different approaches. It has established a control system to retain natural shorelines, and carried out classified protection and economical utilization of them. It has strictly protected uninhabited islands at sea and minimized their development and utilization.

Ensuring the comprehensive use of resources. China has advocated the construction of green mines, promoted green exploration and exploitation, and worked to increase the recovery rate, processing recovery rate, and multipurpose utilization rate of major mineral resources. A total of 1,101 state-level green mines have been built. China has selected a total of 100 pilot projects and 100 backbone enterprises to promote the comprehensive use of resources and started the construction of national demonstration bases for recovering mineral resources from city waste. It has also updated the waste material collection network, coordinated the recycling of waste resources, and improved the processing and utilization of renewable resources. In 2021, 385 million tonnes of nine renewable resources — waste iron and steel, copper, aluminum, lead, zinc, paper, plastic, rubber, and glass — were recycled for new purposes.

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