Nav Search

Remarkable Ecological Progress in the New Era ​

By Qiu Ping Source: Updated: 2024-04-12

Xi Jinping thought on ecological conservation has taken shape and been embraced by the people. Since 2012, President Xi has made the sustainable development of the Chinese nation a priority. Reviewing China's efforts in ecological conservation in the new era, he has introduced a series of creative new ideas, new thinking, and new strategies to address major issues of theoretical and practical importance, such as the kind of ecological progress to be pursued and the ways to achieve it. This has culminated in the formation of Xi Jinping thought on ecological conservation. Meanwhile, public awareness and recognition have also grown regarding the need for harmony between humanity and nature, the notion that lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets, and the importance of resource conservation, environmental protection, and green development.

An institutional framework for ecological conservation has been largely established. A number of important systems have been put in place. These include a property rights system for natural resources, a system for the development and protection of territorial space, an integrated planning system for territorial space, a system for regulating total resource consumption and promoting comprehensive resource conservation, systems for the paid use of natural resources and the provision of environmental compensation, an environmental governance system, a market system for environmental governance and ecological conservation, and a performance evaluation and accountability system pertaining to ecological progress. We have also improved the management systems for natural resources and the ecological environment and formulated or revised over 30 laws on ecological conservation. Thanks to these efforts, an institutional framework for ecological conservation has come into being.

Acceleration in green and low-carbon development. China has become the global leader in installed capacities of hydropower, wind power, and solar power. The decade from 2012 to 2022 saw a significant rise in the share of clean energy in China's total energy mix, climbing from 14.5% to 25.9%. This was accompanied by a reduction in the share of coal in primary energy consumption from 68.5% to 56.2%, alongside a 40.1% decrease in carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP. Thanks to consistent improvements in resource use efficiency since 2012, China has recorded decreases in energy consumption, water consumption, and consumption of land allocated for construction per unit of GDP, with reductions of 26.4%, 46.5%, and 38.6%, respectively. The rising efficiency has also driven an increase of close to 60% in the ratio of GDP to major resource consumption.

Progress in ecological protection and restoration. China has led the way in introducing a system for ecological conservation red lines, which cover over 30% of the country's total land area. In implementing this system, we have integrated and refined more than 9,000 nature reserves and established China's first five national parks. Since 2012, over 50 projects have been carried out under China's Shan-Shui Initiative (literally Mountain and Water Initiative for promoting the integrated conservation and restoration of mountain, water, forest, farmland, grassland, and desert ecosystems) in areas of ecological importance, such as the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau, Yellow River Basin, and Yangtze River Basin. This has resulted in the restoration and improvement of 53,700 km2 of land. Thanks to projects for the protection and improvement of marine ecosystems, we have restored about 2,000 km of coastlines and over 40,000 hectares of coastal wetlands. Forest coverage has also risen to 24.02% from 21.63%, the largest increase in forest resources of any country in the world.

China's contributions to global ecological governance. To cope with climate change, China has not only worked for the conclusion, signing, entry into force, and implementation of the Paris Agreement, but also made a commitment to reaching peak carbon emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060. In addition to hosting conferences of the parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Convention on Wetlands, it has also actively participated in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), and the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), among other action plans.

The UN's most prestigious environmental recognition, the Champions of the Earth Award, was granted to the Saihanba afforestation community in Hebei Province and to Zhejiang's Green Rural Revival Program and its Blue Circle environmental initiative for marine plastic pollution treatment. In addition, China's Shan-Shui Initiative was selected as one of the UN's first 10 World Restoration Flagships.

Editor: Wang Cuifang