Policy recommendations with regard to the sustainable use of resources

This policy report presents a strategy for the sustainable use of resources. The guiding orientation of the strategy is to use sustainability to improve people’s standard of living and quality of life. Its main thrust focuses on improving the efficiency with which resources are used, with an emphasis on controlling the total quantity of resource inputs and the total quantity of pollution emissions into the environment. It relies on the further development of science and technology, on improving China’s institutional structures and mechanisms, and on furthering ‘modernization for the majority of people’ as it seeks to realize the sustainable use of resources. In order to put this strategy into effect, the report specifically focuses on the following six recoimnendations.

Confirm the strategic position of ‘the sustainable use of resources’ in China’s policy framework and set specific control targets toward achieving that end

1.1 Make ‘the sustainable use of resources ’ the strategic starting point within the broader policy> of ‘building an ecologically oriented civilization ’

China’s modernization policy includes an overall arrangement that ‘combines five aspects in one approach.’ That is, it seeks to coordinate and advance the building up of the economy, the political system, the cultural system, the social system, and an ecologically oriented civilization as it modernizes the country. This involves fully implementing the Opinion titled Opinion of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council on Accelerating the Building Up of an Ecologically Oriented Civilization and the Master Plan titled Master Plan for Institutional Reforms Relating to an Ecologically Oriented Civilization. It involves building up our institutional structures at a faster pace and with enhanced systems that can foster an ecologically oriented civilization. It means top-down formulating and coordination of an overall strategy for exploiting and using resources and organizing the implementation of that strategy. As fast as possible, it means pushing forward the zoning, restructuring of economic sectors, and changes in production methods and living methods that will help conserve resources and protect the environment. We therefore recommend that a Central Steering Committee for Building an Ecologically Oriented Civilization be established. This will cany out systems planning, coordinate from an overall perspective, organize and implement, and make relevant arrangements for investigating progress. Its responsibilities will include mobilizing the entire body of people to participate, prompting the establishment of relevant institutional structures and mechanisms, summing up progress from past experience and promoting best practices more broadly, and (generally) expediting the establishment of an ecologically oriented civilization. This Central Committee will (be empowered to) make judgments and plans with respect to major strategic issues surrounding the sustainable use of resources, as per the strategic goals of building an ecologically oriented civilization. It will forge sound resource governance systems. It is charged with handling the major relationships involved, including the relationship between economic growth and environmental protection, between government intervention and market mechanisms, domestic and international resource markets, and production methods and lifestyles. Its aim is to bring into being a new pattern of modernization that allows for the coordinated development of humans and nature.

1.2 Formulate 2030 control targets that define the ‘two total amounts,’ namely, resource inputs and pollution emissions

In formulating management goals for the total amount of resource inputs by 2030, the aim is to strive for a peak quantity by around 2030. That is, the country will aim for peak usage of primary resource inputs around that time, after which inputs will start to decline from historic highs. This means realizing a strong ‘decoupling’ of resource consumption and economic growth. It requires seizing the opportunities presented by global technological change and the readjustment of China’s own economic structure. It means improving the efficiency with which resources are used in all ways, actively reducing the total quantity of resource inputs, increasing the percentage of reusable and renewable resources, and it means ensuring that the use of fossil fuels, water, and key minerals such as iron, aluminum, and copper reach a peak as soon as possible and then start to decline.

In formulating management goals for the total amount of all kinds of emissions, the aim is to reach peak values of all emissions, including greenhouse gases, by 2030 and start a decline at least by that year. This means strengthening regulatory supervision over the environment, improving the capacity to treat pollutants and discharges so that they are non-toxic and actually achieving results, and reducing emissions of pollutants as well as the negative effects that pollutants have on the economy, society, and the environment. We should strive to reach a peak in the total quantity of emissions of the most important pollutants by around 2020 and then start to decline. This requires staunch adherence to circular-economy development that is green and low carbon and the constant promotion of energy conservation and emissions reduction. It means putting major effort into developing renewable sources of energy and low-carbon energy and promoting change in types of energy, such that before 2030, we reach peak amounts of greenhouse gas emissions and start their decline.

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