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This project is funded by the European Union.

Introduction

This project, funded by the EU Foreign Policy Instrument, supports cooperation between the EU and China on environmental policy, and aims to improve environmental protection standards and increase integration between the EU and China on environmental governance. The project is implemented from January 2018 to June 2021, by a consortium including GOPA, Policy Research Center for Environment and Economy (PRCEE) of China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment, and ClientEarth.

Environmental protection and green development are high priorities of the Chinese government. There are serious concerns about pollution, ecological degradation and climate change in China, and a recognition of the benefits associated with investing in green development. China can actively learn from policies, measures and technologies in the EU and other parts of the world to meet its environmental targets.

This project supports the ministerial-level EU – China Environmental Policy Dialogue (EPD), as well as the EU – China High Level Dialogue on Climate and Environment, which was established in September 2020, just before China’s President Xi Jinping made the pledge to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

Some highlights of the project to date include:

  • EU – China biodiversity dialogue ahead of Kunming COP: The project, in cooperation with the Office of the Executive Committee for CBD COP15 co-hosted six workshops towards the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework to be agreed upon at COP15 in Kunming.
  • Environmental permitting: The project supported the development of China’s National Pollutant Discharge Permitting Regulation, through training workshops, public comments to the draft regulation, and an in-depth comparative study to introduce EU experience. The Regulation was issued in January 2021, and will be the cornerstone for China’s pollution management system, also covering GHG emissions.
  • Integrated environmental policies for a green economy: The project carried out an in-depth study, a policy visit to Europe, and two online workshops, focusing on how to ensure the integration of environmental policies, and integrating environmental considerations into broader economic policies, planning and legislation. This has supported the drafting of the environmental chapter of the 14th Five Year Plan, the establishment of a new department in the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, and a policy document on “Integrating and Strengthening Efforts in Climate Action and Ecological and Environmental Protection”.
  • Environmental legislation: The project actively shared EU experience in river basin management and lent support for the drafting of the Yangtze River Protection Law, China’s first legislation on a specific river basin. It also shared EU experience of the development and implementation of the EU Plastics Strategy and provided recommendations for China to implement plastic pollution prevention policies and reduce plastic packaging waste. »
  • Global environmental governance: The project organized a series of workshops and short papers on climate change, biodiversity, marine protection, environment and trade, green economic recovery and other key topics related to global environmental governance. By bringing together policymakers and broader stakeholders, the project supported China in playing a more active role in global environmental governance.

More information about related EU – China cooperation can be found the following links:

Project details

Learn more about the project activities, objectives and background.

What are the project activities?

The project undertakes policy studies, and organises workshops, seminars and exchanges. The specific topics for each activity respond to the priorities identified by the EU-China Environmental Policy Dialogue.

To date, the following activities have been implemented:

Activity 1: In-depth studies

1.1: In-depth study on the Formulation and Implementation of Pollutant Discharge Permits in China. This activity has contributed to the development and implementation of China’s National Pollutant Discharge Permitting Regulation. The final report was published in January 2021.

1.2: In-depth study on Integrated Environmental Policies for Green Economy. This activity has contributed to the better alignment of China’s policies on pollution prevention and control, ecological conservation and restoration, and climate change mitigation and adaptation, and their integration with broader economic policies.

1.3: In-depth study on Reducing Plastic Pollution. It particularly focuses on single-use plastics, use of alternatives, and a replicable model for reducing plastic packaging in e-commerce and express delivery at city level.

Activity 2: Short papers

2.1: Global Governance and Ecological Civilization (2018). This short paper analyses the global environmental governance regime with a focus on the EU and China, and raises recommendations on cooperation opportunities in the areas of biodiversity, climate change and oceans. It is based on a high-level workshop held in Brussels in June 2018, in which EVP Frans Timmermans and other leaders participated (see activity 5.1).

2.2: Summary Report of First Biodiversity Workshop (2018). This short paper summarizes the first EU – China Workshop on Biodiversity, in preparation of COP15 (see activity 5.2). The focus is “Sharing perspectives on CBD implementation and options for the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework”.

2.3: Plastic Waste and Marine Plastic Pollution (2019). This short paper may have contributed to the development of China’s “Opinions on Further Strengthening Plastic Pollution Control”.

2.4: Summary Report of Second Biodiversity Workshop (2019). This short paper summarizes the second EU – China Workshop on Biodiversity, in preparation of COP15 (see activity 5.4). The focus is “Perspectives on biodiversity commitments, the 2030 Mission, the other elements of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, and the Belt and Road Initiative.

2.5: Summary Report of Third Biodiversity Workshop (2019). This short paper summarizes the third EU – China Workshop on Biodiversity, in preparation of COP15 (see activity 5.5). The focus is “The road to COP15: 2030 Mission; Smart targets; Implementation, assessment, reporting, and review; ABCMs and ecological redlines”.

2.6 Summary Report of Fourth Biodiversity Workshop (2020). This short paper summarizes the fourth EU – China Workshop on Biodiversity, in preparation of COP15 (see activity 10.1). The focus is “Current status of global biodiversity framework and challenges, roles of ecosystem in pandemic risk, economic stimulus and biodiversity resource mobilization”.

2.7 Environmental Status and State of Play of Environmental Policies in China (2020). This short paper provides an update of progress and outstanding challenges in environmental policy. It may have contributed to the establishment of the EU – China High Level Dialogue on Climate and Environment.

Activity 3: Training workshops

Four training workshops were held on best practices in the implementation of Pollutant Discharge Permits. Two trainings took place back to back in December 2018, in Hangzhou and Beijing, and another batch of two trainings took place in November 2019, in Guangzhou and Beijing. The combined number of participants from local environmental protection bureaus was over 200. The trainings were highly interactive, providing a forum for discussion. This activity has contributed to the development and implementation of China’s National Pollutant Discharge Permitting Regulation.

Activity 4: In-Depth Trainings

4.1: Cross-jurisdictional and river basin management legislation. A two-week in-depth training took place in December 2019 in Germany, with a group of 7 Chinese policy researchers and lawmakers. The activity contributed to the development of China’s Yangtze River Protection Law.

Activity 5 and 10: Workshops

5.1 Workshop on Global Environmental Governance (June 2018). The workshop discussed the global environmental governance regime with a focus on the EU and China, and cooperation opportunities in the areas of biodiversity, climate change and oceans. EVP Frans Timmermans and other leaders participated.

5.2 First Biodiversity Workshop (October 2018). The focus was “Sharing perspectives on CBD implementation and options for the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework”.

5.3: Workshop on Plastic Waste and Marine Plastic Pollution (November 2018). This workshop may have contributed to the development of China’s “Opinions on Further Strengthening Plastic Pollution Control”.

5.4: Second Biodiversity Workshop (May 2019). The focus is “Perspectives on biodiversity commitments, the 2030 Mission, the other elements of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, and the Belt and Road Initiative.

5.5: Third Biodiversity Workshop (October 2019). The focus is “The road to COP15: 2030 Mission; Smart targets; Implementation, assessment, reporting, and review; ABCMs and ecological redlines”.

5.6 Regional Environment Management Workshop (November 2019). Sharing experience on regional air pollution and river basin management. This activity contributed to the development of the Yangtze River Protection Law, and regional coordination of air pollution control.

5.7 Virtual Workshop on Access and Benefit Sharing in Biodiversity (May 2020). This workshop helped to develop a common understanding on issues of common concern and thus contribute to the preparation of COP15.

5.8 Virtual Workshop on EU Green Deal and Green Recovery (June 2020). This workshop was held part virtual, and part in-person in Beijing. Sharing experience on green fiscal stimulus measures. The workshop contributed to a green post-covid economic recovery.

10.1 Fourth Biodiversity Workshop (July 2020). This workshop was held part virtual, and part in-person in Beijing. The focus is “Current status of global biodiversity framework and challenges, roles of ecosystem in pandemic risk, economic stimulus and biodiversity resource mobilization”.

10.2 Virtual Workshop on EU Green Deal and Investment in the Energy Transition (October 2020). This workshop was held part virtual, and part in-person in Beijing. The workshop contributed to a green post-covid economic recovery.

10.3 Virtual Workshop on ABS and Digital Sequence Information in Biodiversity (January 2021). This workshop focused on understanding Digital sequence information on genetic resources (DSI), current practice of using DSI across the globe, and potential modalities for addressing the DSI challenge.

10.4 Workshop on Climate Mitigation - How to Decrease Domestic Emissions and Avoid Carbon Leakage (May 2021). This workshop, held partly online and partly in-person in Beijing, focused on how to reduce domestic emissions and prevent carbon leakage, providing a platform for dialogue between China and the EU on a potential carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM).

10.5 Workshop on Global Deforestation Prevention and Green Supply Chains (May 2021). This workshop, held partly online and partly in-person in Beijing, provided a platform to exchange industry best practices and effective policy measures to tackle deforestation from trade in soft commodities, and to promote joint efforts between China and the EU against global deforestation. A short paper was prepared ahead of the workshop, and finalized following the discussions.

Activity 6: Policy Visit

6.1 Pollutant Discharge Permitting visit to Belgium and Germany (September 2018). This policy study visit is linked with the in-depth study on Pollutant Discharge Permit Regulation and Implementation, and the trainings on the same topic. Six Chinese officials participated. This activity has contributed to the development and implementation of China’s National Pollutant Discharge Permitting Regulation.

6.2 Integrated environmental management visit to Belgium and the UK (September 2019). This activity was linked with the associated in-depth study, and has contributed to the development of China’s “Guiding Opinions on Integrating and Strengthening Efforts in Climate Action and Ecological and Environmental Protection”, and has helped to accelerate China’s energy transition.

Activity 7: EU China Environmental Policy Cooperation Seminar

The purpose of this activity is to mark the successful implementation of the project, to share its achievements with relevant officials and the media, and to take a forward look at the next priorities for EU – China cooperation on environment and green development.

What are the background and objectives to the project?

Environmental protection and green development are high priorities of the Chinese government. There are serious concerns about air, water and soil pollution in China, but also a recognition of the economic and human health benefits associated with investing in green development. A very broad range of policies, legislation, new implementation and enforcement measures are being developed and put into place at a rapid pace to meet environmental targets. One of the main challenges is implementation of environmental laws and standards at provincial and local level. China can actively learn from policies, measures and technologies, in the EU and other parts of the world, including very practical lessons from implementation, in building its own system adapted to China’s needs. China is experimenting with new policy approaches, technologies and other solutions that will have implications within China and beyond.

The EU and China have had a ministerial-level Environmental Policy Dialogue (EPD) since 2003. Through the policy dialogue, both sides agree on guiding principles for EU-China cooperation on a regular basis, and detailed subject areas and questions addressed are driven by the priorities on both sides. This created a need for a mechanism to quickly respond through policy exchange activities which can address new, sometimes very specialised technical questions as they arise.

The EU – China Environment Project (full name: EU-China Environment and Green Economy Programme) is supported by the European Union through its Foreign Policy Instrument.  The overall objective is to reinforce EU-China cooperation on environment and green economy, supporting the EU-China environmental policy dialogue and helping to achieve higher environmental protection standards, more convergence between the EU and China on environmental governance and greater integration of environment into other areas of government decision making.

The specific objective of the project is to facilitate dialogue between the EU and China on environmental policy, green economy and to foster the adoption of environmental best practices in the country.

The project has set out to achieve four expected results:

  • Contribute to the implementation of the activities agreed at the EU-China Environmental Policy Dialogue level;
  • Support the establishment of a regular and efficient coordination mechanism on environmental issues;
  • Promote regulatory convergence between the EU and China around good practice and standards;
  • Undertake policy studies and organise workshops, seminars and exchanges.

Who is the project consortium?

GOPA - GOPA Consultants, is a leading German development consulting firm and one of the strongest consulting groups in Europe. Since its founding in 1965, GOPA has successfully implemented over 3,500 management and training projects for national and international financing agencies as well as private industry in more than 130 countries. Our reputation for excellence and efficiency is built on fifty years of planning and implementing technical assistance projects in developing and transition economies.

PRCEE - The Policy Research Center for Environment and Economy (PRCEE) is an institution affiliated to Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP), China. The mission of PRCEE is to offer policy support for the State’s macro decision-making and management over environmental protection based on the comprehensive and strategic researches of overall importance in the fields of environmental strategy, environment policy, environmental legislation and institution, and international environmental issues. PRCEE has conducted hundreds of national and ministerial policy research programs on environmental strategy, ecological civilization, green economy, green finance, environmental economic policy analysis, environmental public governance, environmental legislation, environment and society, global environmental governance, global sustainable development, environment and health, environment and trade and climate change.

ClientEarth -  is a non-profit environmental law organisation, founded in 2008, with offices in London, Brussels, Warsaw, and Beijing. In 2012 BusinessGreen gave ClientEarth its NGO of the Year award. In 2013 ClientEarth was awarded the Law Society’s LSA Award for Excellence in Environmental Responsibility.

Contact details

Telephone: +86-10-84405941

Office address: Sunflower Tower, 1950 Maizidian Rd.37, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100125, China