On 2 February 2021, the State Council issued the Guiding Opinions on Accelerating the Establishment of a Sound Economic System for Green, Low-Carbon and Circular Development (Guo Fa [2021] No. 4, hereinafter referred to as the Opinions), which aims to co-ordinate the relationship between economic development and ecological and environmental protection construction, promote a comprehensive green transformation of economic and social development, and build a modernisation in which people and nature live in harmony. The Opinions make arrangements for the deployment of green, low-carbon and circular development in six aspects, including production, circulation, consumption, infrastructure, green technology, laws and regulations and policies, and specify 85 key tasks and lead units.


In order to enable the relevant departments of the state-level economic development zones to quickly understand the latest national requirements in a more focused manner, Green Alliance has made excerpts on the main objectives of the Opinions, as well as the four aspects of industrial transformation, technological innovation, environmental governance and financial system, which are closely related to the high-quality development of state-level economic development zones, respectively, as follows.


Main objectives


By 2025, the industrial, energy and transport structures will be significantly optimised, the proportion of green industries will be substantially increased, the level of green infrastructure will be continuously improved, the level of clean production will be continuously improved, the green transformation of production and lifestyle will be effective, the allocation of energy resources will be more rational, and the efficiency of utilisation will be significantly improved, the total emission of major pollutants will be continuously reduced, the intensity of carbon emission will be significantly reduced, the ecological environment will be continuously improved, the market-oriented green technological innovation system will be more perfect, the legal and policy system will be more effective, and the production system, distribution system and consumption system for green, low-carbon and circular development will be initially formed.


By 2035, the endogenous power of green development will be significantly enhanced, the scale of green industries will reach a new level, the efficiency of energy and resource utilisation of key industries and products will reach the advanced international level, a green production and lifestyle will be widely formed, carbon emissions will be steadily reduced after reaching the peak, the ecological environment will be fundamentally improved, and the goal of building a beautiful China will be basically achieved.


Industrial transformation


(4) Promote the green upgrading of industry. Accelerate the implementation of green transformation in industries such as iron and steel, petrochemical, chemical, non-ferrous, building materials, textile, paper and leather. Promote green design of products and build green manufacturing system. Vigorously develop the remanufacturing industry and strengthen the certification and promotion of remanufactured products. Build comprehensive resource utilisation bases and promote the comprehensive utilisation of industrial solid waste. Comprehensively implement clean production and enforce mandatory clean production audits in "double super and double high energy-consuming" industries in accordance with the law. Improve the identification of "scattered and dirty" enterprises, and implement measures such as shutting down and banning, integrating and relocating, and improving and upgrading. Accelerate the implementation of the emission permit system. Strengthen the management of hazardous waste in industrial production.


(5) Accelerate the green development of agriculture. Encourage the development of ecological planting and ecological breeding and strengthen the certification and management of green food and organic agricultural products. Develop ecological recycling agriculture, improve the level of resource utilisation of livestock and poultry manure, promote the comprehensive utilisation of crop straw, and strengthen the control of agricultural film pollution. Strengthen the protection and enhancement of arable land quality and promote the comprehensive management of degraded arable land. Develop the forestry recycling economy and implement the construction project of forest eco-labelled products. Vigorously promote agricultural water conservation, and promote efficient water conservation techniques. Promote healthy aquaculture. Implement actions to reduce the use of pesticides and veterinary antimicrobials and clean up the origin environment. Strengthen the unified planning of aquaculture waters and beaches in accordance with the law. Improve the management system for fishing bans in relevant waters. Promote the deep integration of agriculture with tourism, education, culture, health and other industries, and accelerate the development of the integration of one, two and three industries.


(6) Improve the green development of the service industry. Promote the green upgrading of trade enterprises and cultivate a number of green circulation entities. Develop the sharing economy in travel, accommodation and other areas in an orderly manner, and regulate the development of the trading of idle resources. Accelerate the green transformation of the information service industry, do a good job in the green construction and transformation of large and medium-sized data centres and network rooms, and establish a green operation and maintenance system. Promote the green development of the exhibition industry, guide the development of industry-related green standards, and promote the recycling of exhibition facilities. Promote the use of raw and auxiliary materials with a low VOC content in industries such as auto repair and decoration. Advocate that hotels, restaurants and other industries do not actively provide disposable products.


(7) Strengthen green industries. Build a number of national green industry demonstration bases and promote the formation of an open, collaborative and efficient innovation ecosystem. Accelerate the cultivation of market players, encourage the establishment of mixed-ownership companies, and build a number of large green industry groups; guide small and medium-sized enterprises to focus on their main business to enhance their core competitiveness, and cultivate "specialised and new" small and medium-sized enterprises. Promote contract energy management, contract water conservation management, third-party management of environmental pollution and environmental trusteeship services that are oriented to the effectiveness of environmental management. Further liberalise the competitive business of energy conservation and environmental protection in the petroleum, chemical, electricity and natural gas sectors, and encourage public institutions to implement energy trusteeship services. Revise the Green Industry Guidance Catalogue in due course to guide the direction of industrial development.


(viii) Improve the recycling level of industrial parks and industrial clusters. Scientifically compile development and construction plans for new industrial parks, carry out planning and environmental impact assessments in accordance with the law, strictly enforce access standards, improve circular industrial chains and promote the formation of industrial circular coupling. Promote the recycling transformation of existing industrial parks and industrial clusters, and promote the common construction and sharing of public facilities, the gradual use of energy, the recycling of resources and the centralised and safe disposal of pollutants. Encourage the construction of comprehensive energy projects with the synergy of electricity, heat, cooling, gas and other energy sources. Encourage the construction of centralised storage, pre-treatment and disposal facilities for hazardous waste in industrial parks such as chemical industries.


(ix) Build green supply chains. Encourage enterprises to carry out green design, select green materials, implement green procurement, create green manufacturing processes, implement green packaging, carry out green transportation, and do a good job of recycling waste products, so as to achieve green products throughout the cycle of environmental protection. Select about 100 highly motivated, socially influential and driven enterprises to carry out green supply chain pilot projects and explore the establishment of a green supply chain system. Encourage industry associations to improve the greening of industry supply chains through the formulation of norms, advisory services and industry self-regulation.


(10) Create green logistics. Actively adjust the transport structure, promote multimodal transport such as iron-water, public-rail and public-water, and accelerate the construction of special railway lines. Strengthen the organisation and management of logistics transportation, accelerate the construction of relevant public information platforms and information sharing, and develop dumping transportation and common distribution. Promote green and low-carbon means of transport, eliminate and renew or renovate old vehicles and vessels, and give priority to the use of new energy or clean energy vehicles in port and airport services, urban logistics and distribution, and postal and express delivery; increase efforts to promote the demonstration and application of green vessels, and promote the standardisation of inland river vessel types. Accelerate the construction of shore power facilities in ports and support airports in the construction and application of alternative equipment for aircraft auxiliary power units. Support logistics enterprises to build digital operation platforms, encourage the development of smart warehousing and smart transportation, and promote the establishment of a standardised pallet recycling system.


(12) Establish a green trade system. Actively optimise the trade structure, vigorously develop trade in high-quality, high value-added green products, and strictly control the export of highly polluting and energy-consuming products. Strengthen international cooperation on green standards, actively lead and participate in the formulation of relevant international standards, promote cooperation and mutual recognition mechanisms for conformity assessment, and improve the interface between green trade rules and import and export policies. Deepen cooperation in the green "Belt and Road" and broaden cooperation in energy conservation, environmental protection, clean energy and other areas of technology, equipment and services.


(23) Increase financial and taxation support. Continue to use fiscal funds and budgetary investment to support the shortcomings and weaknesses of environmental infrastructure, the development of green and environmental industries, the efficient use of energy, and the recycling of resources. Continue to implement preferential policies on income tax and value-added tax for energy conservation, water conservation and environmental protection, comprehensive use of resources, as well as contract energy management and third-party treatment of environmental pollution. Doing a good job in the collection of resource tax and the pilot conversion of water resource fees into taxes.


(25) Improve green standards, green certification system and statistical monitoring system. Carry out top-level design and systematic planning of the green standard system, and form a comprehensive and systematic green standard system. Accelerate the construction of standardisation support institutions. Accelerate the construction of the green product certification system and cultivate a number of professional green certification institutions. Strengthen statistical monitoring in areas such as energy conservation and environmental protection, clean production and clean energy, improve relevant systems and strengthen statistical information sharing.


Science and Technology Innovation


(15) Promote green and low-carbon transformation of the energy system. Adhere to the priority of energy conservation, and improve the dual control of total energy consumption and intensity. Increase the proportion of renewable energy use, vigorously promote the development of wind power and photovoltaic power generation, and develop water energy, geothermal energy, ocean energy, hydrogen energy, biomass energy and solar thermal power generation in accordance with local conditions. Accelerate the research, development, and promotion of large-capacity energy storage technology and enhance the power grid's aggregation and outward transmission capacity. Increase the supply of clean energy in rural areas and promote biomass energy development in rural areas. Promote the clean and efficient development and conversion of coal-fired power generation. Continue to increase the proportion of large-capacity, high-parameter and low-pollution coal power units to the installed coal power generation capacity. Actively develop clean combined heat and power central heating in counties in northern areas and steadily promote coupled biomass heat supply. Strictly control new installed coal power capacity. Improve the efficiency of energy transmission and distribution. Implement a plan to build and intelligently upgrade urban and rural distribution grids, and promote the upgrading of rural grids. Accelerate the construction and interconnection of natural gas infrastructure. Carry out experimental demonstrations of carbon dioxide capture, utilisation and storage.


(17) Enhance the green development of transport infrastructure. Integrate ecological and environmental protection concepts into the entire process of planning, construction, operation and maintenance of transport infrastructure, make intensive use of land and other resources, reasonably avoid national land space with important ecological functions, and actively create green roads, green railways, green waterways, green ports and green airports. Strengthen the construction of supporting infrastructure for new energy vehicle charging and switching, hydrogen refilling and so on. Actively promote the application of advanced technologies and products for energy conservation and environmental protection such as warm-mix asphalt, intelligent ventilation, auxiliary power substitution and energy-saving lighting and sound insulation barriers. Increase the comprehensive use of waste resources in engineering construction and promote the resourceful use of waste pavement, asphalt, dredged soil and other materials as well as construction waste.


(19) Encourage research and development of green and low-carbon technologies. Implement green technology innovation and research action, and layout a number of forward-looking, strategic and disruptive science and technology research projects in the fields of energy conservation and environmental protection, clean production and clean energy. Cultivate and build a number of innovation base platforms such as the National Technology Innovation Centre for Green Technology and the National Science and Technology Resources Sharing Service Platform. Strengthen the position of enterprises as the main body of innovation, support enterprises to integrate universities, research institutes, industrial parks and other forces to establish market-oriented green technology innovation consortia, and encourage enterprises to lead or participate in green technology research and development projects supported by financial funds and green technology innovation projects with clear market orientation.


(20) Accelerate the transformation of scientific and technological achievements. Actively use the first (set of) major technical equipment policy to support the application of green technology. Give full play to the role of the National Science and Technology Achievement Transformation Guidance Fund and strengthen the guidance of various funds such as venture capital to support the transformation and application of green technology innovation results. Support enterprises, universities and research institutions to establish incubators and innovation and entrepreneurship bases for green technology innovation projects. Promptly release the green technology promotion catalogue and accelerate the promotion and application of advanced and mature technologies. Deeply promote the construction of green technology trading centres.


Environmental Governance


(11) Strengthen the recycling of renewable resources. Promote the "integration" of waste separation and recycling with the recycling of renewable resources, and encourage localities to establish regional trading centres for renewable resources. Accelerate the implementation of the extended producer responsibility system, and guide manufacturers to establish reverse logistics recycling systems. Encourage enterprises to adopt modern information technology to achieve organic integration of waste recycling online and offline, cultivate new business models, build leading enterprises, and enhance the industry's overall competitiveness. Improve the recycling and treatment system for waste and used household appliances, and promote typical recycling models and experience practices. Accelerate the construction of a recycling system for waste materials, strengthen the recycling of waste paper, waste plastics, waste tyres, waste metals, waste glass and other recycled resources, and enhance the resource output rate and recycling rate.


(14) Advocate green and low-carbon lifestyles. To practice frugality and resolutely stop wasteful food and drink behaviour. Promote the separation and reduction of domestic waste and resource recovery in accordance with local conditions, and carry out publicity, training and effectiveness assessment. Solidly promote the treatment of the whole chain of plastic pollution. Promote the governance of excessive packaging and promote compliance by production operators with mandatory standards to limit excessive packaging of goods. Enhance the intelligence of the transportation system and actively guide green travel. Carry out in-depth patriotic health campaigns, rectify environmental filth and disorder, and create a livable living environment. Carry out green living creation activities.


(16) Promote the upgrading of urban environmental infrastructure construction. Promote full coverage of urban sewage networks. Promote the integration of urban domestic sewage collection and treatment facilities, speed up the construction of sludge harmless and resourceful disposal facilities, layout sewage resourcefulness facilities in accordance with local conditions, and basically eliminate urban black smelly water bodies. Accelerate the construction of urban domestic waste treatment facilities, promote domestic waste incineration and power generation, and reduce domestic waste disposal in landfills. Strengthen the construction of centralised hazardous waste disposal capacity, enhance the level of information technology and intelligent supervision, and strictly implement the management system of business permits. Improve the emergency treatment capacity of medical waste. Make good use of kitchen waste resources and harmless treatment. Promote the construction of large-scale desalination facilities in coastal water-scarce cities.


(22) Improve the price mechanism for green charges. Improve sewage treatment charging policies in accordance with the principle of covering the cost of operating sewage treatment facilities and sludge treatment and disposal and making a reasonable profit, reasonably set sewage treatment charges, and improve the dynamic adjustment mechanism of the standards. In accordance with the generator pays principle, establish and improve the domestic waste treatment charging system. Each region can be based on the actual local situation, the implementation of classification pricing, metering charges and other differentiated management. Improve energy-saving and environmental protection electricity pricing policies, promote comprehensive reform of agricultural water pricing, and continue to implement a good system of tiered electricity, gas and water pricing for residents.


Financial System


(24) Vigorously develop green finance. Develop green credit and direct green financing, and increase the evaluation and assessment of green financial performance of financial institutions. Unify green bond standards and establish green bond rating standards. Develop green insurance and play the role of the insurance rate adjustment mechanism. Support eligible green industry enterprises to go public and raise funds. Support financial institutions and related enterprises to carry out green financing in the international market. Promote the convergence of international green financial standards and orderly promote the two-way opening of the green financial market. Promote climate investment and financing.


(26) Foster green trading market mechanisms. Further improve the trading mechanisms for emission rights, energy use rights, water use rights and carbon emission rights, reduce transaction costs and improve operational efficiency. Accelerate the establishment of systems for initial allocation, paid use, market trading, dispute resolution and supporting services, and improve the coordination of green tenure trading with relevant target indicators.




In addition, the Opinions also point out in particular that it is necessary to deepen international cooperation, co-ordinate the two major situations at home and abroad, strengthen policy communication, technology exchange, project cooperation and talent training with various countries and regions in the world in the field of green low carbon cycle development, actively participate in and lead global climate governance, effectively improve China's ability and level of promoting international green low carbon cycle development, and make positive contributions to the building of a community of human destiny.

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