A new starting point: China's eco-civilisation and climate action post-Paris

This paper is part of a series of briefing papers that examine the climate change policies of the countries key to a global agreement at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations in Paris in December 2015, and its effective and ongoing implementation.

Executive Summary

This briefing paper examines China’s ‘ecological civilisation’ and what it means for the future of Chinese climate change policy and climate diplomacy.

The paper argues that China’s transition from an industrial civilisation to an ecological civilisation has produced a new eco-minded meaning of economic growth, which has served to ‘open-up’ a new range of low-pollution policy options, while ‘closing-off’ other high-pollution options.

Key Findings:

  • The meaning of economic growth in China was different during its period of industrial civilisation (1978-2011) in comparison to its period of ecological civilisation (2016 and beyond).
  • China transitioned from an industrial civilisation to an ecological civilisation between 2011 and 2016. Evidence of this is identifiable in its electricity generation and urban transport sectors.
  • It is likely that China will strengthen its Paris Agreement commitments over time.

Related media:

Read the full paper


Ben Parr

Don Henry