context: Environmental protection is a key part of Xi Jinping’s overall focus on governance reform, stressed at the Central Committee 4th Plenum. This much-anticipated policy document embodies changes in the way the state perceives and restructures environmental regulations, rooted in a fundamental shift in how the state envisions the relationship between man and nature (i.e., ecological civilisation), including developing long-term structural solutions and promoting environment as part of the high-quality growth. This top-level policy showcases the state’s long-term commitment to environmental protection.

CCP Central Committee and State Council issued ‘Guidelines on building modern environmental governance system’, specifying

  • targets
    • by 2025, setting up an effective, sound and interactive environmental governance system that
      • stresses
        • responsibilities of corporations and governments at all levels
        • participation of citizens
      • enhances environmental supervision, legislation, market operation and credit scoring
  • state responsibilities
    • improving government working structures in which
      • CCP Central Committee and State Council oversee overall planning and goals, and formulate Party and state institutions’ environmental protection responsibilities
      • provincial governments take overall responsibility
      • city and county-level governments are in charge of implementation
    • clarifying central and local governments’ respective spending responsibilities
    • rolling out evaluation
    • deepening environmental inspection
  • corporate responsibilities
    • implementing pollutant discharge permit
    • greening production and services
    • improving pollution treatment
    • disclosing environmental treatment information
  • citizens’ participation
    • strengthening public supervision
    • enhancing involvement of social groups
    • improving citizens’ environmental literacy
  • environmental supervision
    • strengthening enforcement, legal support and monitoring capacity
  • environmental market
    • building a transparent and fair market
    • boosting environmental industry
      • scaling up innovation in critical technologies and products
      • fostering a number of leading firms
      • supporting a number of specialised SMEs
    • promoting third-party pollution treatment
    • improving pricing mechanisms based on ‘polluter pays’ principle
  • environmental credit scoring
    • strengthening government affairs integrity building
    • improving corporate environmental credit evaluation
  • environmental legislation
    • improving laws, regulations and standards
    • enhancing fiscal, tax and financing support
      • ensuring sustained and stable funding from central and local governments
      • improving ecological compensation scheme
      • releasing policies conducive to upgrading industry, energy, transport and land use structures
      • strictly enforcing Environmental Protection Tax Law
      • setting up a national green development fund
      • promoting environmental liability insurance, which should be mandatory in regions with high environmental risks
      • encouraging major environmental equipment leasing
      • speeding up building provincial soil pollution prevention and control funds
      • standardising green bonds