More policy support for the industrial transition

Beijing is currently hosting the Two Sessions – the annual plenary sessions of China’s top legislature and top political advisory body.

To mark their start, the central government released its annual work report on 5 March, which shows strong support for clean energy and green industries. 

Seen alongside recent policy developments, this may suggest a shift towards bolstering industry transitions while also promoting renewable energy growth.

China has made a series of policy changes to promote the green transition of industries, particularly heavy ones.

A big one is a revision of the Green Industries Guidance Catalogue, which was first published in 2019. 

After public consultations last year, it has been renamed the Guidance Catalogue for Green and Low-Carbon Transition Industry (2024 edition) – an edit that highlights the importance of decarbonising existing industries. 

The catalogue also contains new sections. Some of these are brand new, such as green and low-carbon transformation in “key industries” including steel, non-ferrous metals, petrochemicals and chemicals, and building materials. Others had featured in the 2023 consultation draft, such as greenhouse gas emission control, by for example reducing emissions in industrial processes.

As the catalogue is mainly used by banks and financial institutions for providing green loans, the new heavy industries section can be seen as a step forward in supporting transition finance, a Chinese expert told China Dialogue privately.

Other policies are also supporting the transition of carbon-intensive industries. Seven central government departments have issued an Opinions document on greening the manufacturing industry.

Though such documents have no legal weight, they set directions for government, companies and financial institutions. This one includes a goal for manufacturing to peak its emissions by 2030, urging companies to adopt low-carbon practices across the whole lifecycle of products.

Low-carbon tech is getting more support as well.

An implementation plan for “collecting and promoting key low-carbon technologies”, has been issued by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment and five other departments. It highlights the needs of new tech development in five key areas: energy, “key sectors”, carbon capture and storage, digital technologies for emission reduction, and the reduction of non-CO2 emissions. The plan describes “key sectors” as “key industries, construction, and transportation.” As in the catalogue, “key industries” refers to those sectors that are challenging to transform, such as steel, non-ferrous metals, petrochemicals, chemicals, building materials.

Read China Dialogue’s recent analysis on improving the conditions for investors to help green China’s heavy industry.