Climate on the NDRC Docket

By Phylicia Wu, Director, Green Finance Center

China’s powerful National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has advancing China’s ambitious climate agenda high on its docket. This comes at a time when environment, climate, and carbon remain top priorities for the central government.

Last September, President Xi announced that China would target carbon peak by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060 (30/60 goals). Earlier this year, the country introduced details for operation of its national carbon market, but has since missed its June target for launch.

The 30/60 goals will need an intricate set of initiatives and detailed coordination across the whole of government. The national carbon market will need an entity with the gravitas to overcome the vested interests for state owned enterprises, lack of coordination among government bodies, and other long-recognized challenges that continue to delay the launch of the national carbon market.

As such, the NDRC appears to be increasingly stepping in to ensure China remains on track with its climate aims.

China has formed a new high-level climate leading group led by Vice Premier Han Zheng. It includes top leaders Vice Premier Liu He, State Council member Wang Yong, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and NDRC Chairman He Lifeng. This interagency list of power players indicates the importance of climate to the central government’s senior leaders.

In addition, the NDRC has also begun preparing a carbon peak plan by 2030 and various plans for decarbonization of key carbon-intensive industries including coal, power, steel, petrochemicals, and chemicals. It is also actively supporting private enterprises’ technological innovation and growth, and working with relevant financial space regulators like the People’s Bank of China to promote green finance development.

The climate agenda receives a significant boost with the involvement of the NDRC. As the country’s top policy making and administrative body, the NDRC lends more muscle and might to the execution of China’s climate priorities developing a potential path to achieve its 30/60 goals. This should entail positive momentum for near-term climate action in China.