Environmental policies coming out of China’s 2024 “two sessions”

The results from the big Chinese “two sessions” political gathering show the nation’s commitment to the environment. China is committed to reducing its energy intensity, focusing on a green transition, and improving air quality.

Environmental policies coming out of China’s 2024 “two sessions”
Technology in China, by Joshua Fernandez via unsplash, September 5th, 2021.


Dara Masita

South and East Asia Researcher,

Global Human Rights Defence.

Every year in March, China holds a big political gathering to determine its policy direction for the year. The “two sessions” gathering comprises the highest legislative body – the National People’s Congress (NPC) – and an advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). The central part of the gathering is the “government work report” which is delivered by the Premier. The work report contains achievements from the past year, goals for the next year, and the GDP growth target.

China decided to reduce its energy consumption by 2.5 percent for next year. This is thought to be modest as analysts project the reduction rate to be around 4-6 percent for 2025. However, this 2.5 percent target was decided after a long deliberation of taking various factors into account such as economic development, renewable energy substitution, green energy transition, and the increase in overall energy consumption. Furthermore, China is determined to reduce its energy consumption as they would have to publish their Paris Agreement’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in 2025.

For the year 2025, the work report laid down the focus on green transition and low-carbon development for its environmental policy. This includes “improving carbon accounting and verification capacities” and “developing a carbon footprint management system” as their prime concern. On top of that, China is trying to change its means of economic stimulation to develop innovative technologies from its heavy industry, infrastructure, and real estate. With this, China has introduced “new productive forces” into its government report.

China touched upon the topic of air quality improvement due to the rise in air pollution from last year. Because of the change from La Niña to El Niño, the weather conditions are not optimum to provide quality air. With the severe sandstorms that have been hitting the nation, as well as the increased energy consumption from the COVID-19 pandemic, air pollution has worsened in China. However, there are no quantitative targets mentioned in the work report.

Overall, the “two sessions” have shown China’s commitment to improving the environment. If done appropriately, the Chinese government could offer its citizens a better standard of living. The new opportunity opened up by the need for green transition will allow new players in the market to stimulate more economic activities. While climate phenomena and domestic challenges have hindered China from maximizing its full potential to achieve its climate targets, China will continue its environmental progress.

Sources and further reading:

Lin Zi, Cui Qiwen, ‘Two Sessions: What it means for China’s climate policy in 2024’ (China Dialogue, 2024) <https://chinadialogue.net/en/climate/two-sessions-what-it-means-for-chinas-climate-policy-in-2024/> accessed 18 March 2024.

Anika Patel, ‘Q&A: What does China’s ‘two sessions’ mean for climate policy in 2024?’ (CarbonBrief, 2024) <https://www.carbonbrief.org/qa-what-does-chinas-two-sessions-mean-for-climate-policy-in-2024/> accessed 18 March 2024.

Li Shuo, ‘What Happened at China's Two Sessions in 2024?: Climate and Environmental Policy’ (AsiaSociety, 2024) <https://asiasociety.org/policy-institute/what-happened-chinas-two-sessions-2024#climate-and-environmental-policy--17851> accessed 18 March 2024.