China’s 13th Five-Year Plan for Ecological & Environmental Protection (2016-2020)

by China Water Risk 9 December, 2016

5 December, 2016 State Council released the 13th Five-Year Plan (FYP) for environmental protection. The plan summarises the achievements of the 12th FYP and supports the “wars” against air, water and soil pollution. The plan consists of three core missions – to raise the quality of the environment, to strengthen holistic management solutions and to speed up the amendment of environmental issues.

Water is again a key aspect of the plan. Below are the six general aims for improving China’s water resources’ quality from 2016 to 2020:

  • Establish unit-based management of water resource quality
  • Establish holistic, basin-wide strategies to tackle pollution
  • Priority protection of good-quality water bodies
  • Establish holistic strategies to tackle groundwater pollution
  • Strongly improve polluted urban water bodies
  • Improve water quality of river mouth and nearshore areas

There are more defined water-related targets set out in the plan. Among others, the 13th FYP states that more than 70% of China’s surface water must reach Grade III or equivalent by 2020. As of 2015, 66% of China’s surface water reached this grade. Moreover, the proportion of groundwater in the “very bad” category is expected to decline from 15.7% in 2013 to around 15% by 2020.

There is a stronger focus on soil pollution this time round. To achieve more comprehensive monitoring, the total area of polluted farmland, its distribution and impacts are to be quantified by the end of 2018. More specifically, the safe utilisation rate of previously polluted farmland is expected to increase from 70.6% in 2015 to around 90% by 2020.

13 FYP (4)

The establishment of a new environmental protection tax is also mentioned in the plan. This will be an upgrade over the current pollutant discharge fee system. The ecological compensation framework is also expected to be strengthened. In addition, the plan also shows the Chinese government’s willingness to encourage and support the green bond market (e.g. by setting up a green “rating” system)

Overall, the 13th FYP is more comprehensive and stringent compared to the previous version, and it represents a big step forward in the “war on pollution”.

Read the full report here (Chinese only)