China focuses on environment and innovation in its 13th Five-Year Plan

Chinese government on Wednesday (March 16) officially adopted the much-awaited 13th Five-Year Plan, the country’s blueprint that outlines the policy framework, priorities, economic and social development goals for the 2016-2020 period. Some elements of the plan were anticipated in the last months and the draft was unveiled in early March.

On Wednesday Chinese lawmakers approved the final text at the annual session of the National People’s Congress in Beijing, the official press agency Xinhua reported.

The wide-ranging plan includes several binding and indicative targets for China’s economy and policy until 2020.
It sets an average annual growth rate of national GDP between 6.5 and 7 percent and includes measures to face the country’s challenges, such as poverty eradication and increasing urbanization.

Targets for 13th Five-year Plan period: infographic by Xinhua


As anticipated in the previous drafts of the plan, innovation and sustainable development will be among the key priorities for China in the next five years.

The plan sets binding targets on water consumption (a 23 percent fall per 10,000 yuan of GDP), energy intensity (a 15 percent cut per unit of GDP compared with 2015) and carbon intensity, to be reduced by 18 percent compared with 2015 level by 2020.

The emission target would provide new insight into China’s climate policy. The pledges submitted with Chinese INDC for the Paris Agreement mentioned a 60-65 percent reduction per unit of GDP and a 20 percent increase in the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption by 2030.

China will also take measures to address pollution, a major environmental and health concern emerged in the past years. The 13th Five-Year Plan steps up the planned reduction in the amount of air pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (Nox), and requires a minimum of 80 percent of days “with good air quality” by 2020. According to Chinadialogue, this is the first time that a a Five-Year Plan specifically targets PM2.5, with the goal of limiting factory emissions of PM2.5 down to 25% of total output.


According to Xinhua, the country also plans to increase its R&D expediture to 2.5 percent of GDP, having failed the goal of 2.2 percent of GDP established in the 12th Five-Year Plan.
(Image: The closing meeting of the fourth session of the 12th National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, March 16, 2016. Photo credit: Xinhua/Zhang Cheng)