Almost a quarter of China will be covered with forests by 2020 if the country succeeds in its mission towards building an "eco-civilization", according to a report by the United Nations Environment Program, UNEP, published May 26.
The Green is Gold report focuses on the environmental dimension of China's Five-Year Plan (2016-2020). As part of this plan, China has promised that by 2020, it will have reduced water consumption by 23 percent, energy consumption by 15 percent, and CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 18 percent.
By 2020, China's forest cover will reach more than 23 percent and the percentage of days a year with good air quality in cities at the prefecture level will exceed 80 percent, if the country is successful in building its " eco-civilization, "that is, a resource-saving, environmentally friendly society that seeks to integrate ecological development with economic, social, cultural and political development.
China has already achieved a series of notable achievements, according to the UNEP report, presented in the framework of the second United Nations Environment Assembly, UNEA-2, which took place in Nairobi until May 27.
By the end of 2014, China had built 10.5 billion m2 of energy-efficient buildings in urban areas, about 38 percent of the total area of urban residential buildings.
In addition, China's new energy vehicle production increased 45 times between 2011 and 2015. The country has also built the largest air quality monitoring network in the developing world: 338 Chinese cities at the prefecture level and above are capable of monitoring six different air quality indicators. The country has also reduced energy consumption per unit of GDP as well as the amount of CO 2 released per unit of GDP.
As part of its bid to build an eco-civilization, China will build on these successes by:
• Limit total primary energy consumption to 4.8 million tonnes of standard coal equivalent by 2020
• Increase the share of non-fossil fuel energy in primary energy consumption by 15 percent and limit the share of coal consumption to 62 percent by 2020
• Reach minimum peaks in CO2 emissions by 2030
• Build a green manufacturing system that is efficient, clean, low carbon and circular.
"If China succeeds in achieving these goals, then it will have taken a big step towards shifting to a greener economy that uses resources more efficiently, limits the risks of climate change and improves the health of its people." said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the first universally binding climate change agreement signed last year in Paris have renewed hope that the world can move to a low-carbon economy, one that uses natural resources in ways more efficient and promote green economic growth.
To help drive this change, UNEP has released a series of reports, in addition to China, that look at how countries are trying to achieve this transformation.
The report, Multiple Pathways to Sustainable Development: Another Test of Sustainability in Practice, looks at four cases: Bhutan's use of its new Gross National Happiness Index, Germany's attempts to build a circular economy, the use of Payment for Services Environmental (PSA) in Costa Rica and the natural capital accounting of Botswana.
Notes to editors:
Download Green is Gold: The Strategy and Actions of China's Ecological Civilization here:
Download Multiple Paths to Sustainable Development here:
Press contact: María Amparo Lasso, Regional Head of Communications for Latin America and the Caribbean, UNEP, [email protected] (507) 305-3164, Panama City, Panama.