Policy Report
Major Developments in China’s National Air Pollution Policies in the Early 12th Five‐Year Plan
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Major Developments in China’s National Air Pollution Policies in the Early 12th Five‐Year Plan


This report reviews recent developments in China’s formal national air pollution policies from late 2011 to late 2013. It also reviews the related legal framework and administrative structure of implementation of air pollution prevention and control measures in China, to illustrate the context and legal significance of these trends. The complexity of this structure contributes to difficulties in implementation. This report shows that China’s air pollution policies are made up of a range of different types of policy measures including laws, standards, regulations, action plans, and others. Moreover, air pollution is addressed in a broad range of policy areas including overall energy policy, energy conservation, industrial policy, and technology promotion. The main finding is that China has steadily strengthened its formal policies relating to air pollution during the first half of the 12th Five-Year Plan period in a variety of ways. Many changes are related the process of developing the Plan and its sub-plans, and follow the Master Plan (the 12th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development), which introduced binding pollution reduction targets. Important new Five-Year Plans include a regional one with stronger targets for designated regions, some relating to energy conservation, environmental health, law and policy construction, as well as the Blue Sky Science and Technology Project. Many plans designate significant financing for implementation. The Total Emission Control Program and various emissions standards have been strengthened, monitoring capacity has been significantly increased, and much data has been released to the public. Revision of the Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law has been delayed. The most recent important initiative is the Air Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan issued by the State Council in September 2013. This Action Plan is related to and builds on many earlier measures including the regional management system (Joint Prevention and Control) to address domestic trans-boundary air pollution. It focuses not only on pollution targets, but also industrial restructuring, industrial location, and technological innovation, as well as stronger governance. The Action Plan will be enforced by linking industrial project approvals to EIA and energy audits, and linkage with senior officials’ performance evaluations. This report does not analyze the effectiveness of these policies, but the broad policy overview provided by this report would be a necessary starting point for conducting such an analysis. Overall, China has adopted many broad ranging new policies, but implementation of these policies certainly remains a key challenge.