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China’s Climate Action Plan 2015



What should be China’s plan to address climate change?
Submit proposals:
Rules: All entrants must agree to the 2015 Contest Rules. and Terms of Use.
Deadline: Monday, August 31 at 23:59:00 PM Eastern Standard Time
Judging Criteria & Prizes: See below.



This contest invites the global community to work together to develop coherent plans for how the China as a whole – its government, businesses, other organizations, and citizens – can take effective action to address climate change.

Working as an individual or in a team, you can select plans for each of the five major sectors of the economy and propose them as an effective set of actions that the China can take to address climate change.  The five sectors are:  energy supply, transportation, industry, buildings, and all others (which specifically includes agriculture, forestry, and other land use, as well as waste management). With help from the Impact Assessment Fellows, you will be able to see your plan’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emission scenario from 2020 to 2050, and compare that with a business-as-usual emission scenario. You should also select a plan for one other “sector” (called “adaptation”) that includes actions to adapt to changes caused by global climate change such as changing temperatures and rising sea levels.

No single organization–including Chinese government–could create and implement a complete climate action plan all by itself. Instead, successful action will require work by many different organizations and people.  

Articulating a vision for China as a whole has great potential value, since it can demonstrate that there is a plausible path forward. And such a vision can serve as a roadmap for the many disparate organizations and people whose efforts must be enlisted.

This contest is part of a pilot test of a new initiative in the Climate CoLab to develop integrated proposals for addressing climate change at the regional and global levels. Learn more.  If you have feedback on the approach, please let us know by sending email to

You are invited to discuss about strategies for creating regional and global climate action plans with the Climate CoLab community on the Forum:

Key Issues

Any comprehensive combination of actions to address climate change across a country or region must necessarily involve:

Judging Criteria

Plans will be evaluated based on:

Note: You are welcome to select proposals that did not win prizes or even become semifinalists in other contests.  You may, for instance, find proposals that were overlooked in the original judging of those contests or that have some special relevance when combined with other proposals in your overall plan. 


Judges' Choice and Popular Choice winners will receive a special invitation to attend selected sessions at MIT’s SOLVE conference and showcase their work before key constituents in a workshop the next day. A few select Climate CoLab winners will join distinguished SOLVE attendees in a highly collaborative problem-solving session.

In addition, if your China plan is included in one or more winning global plans, you will receive Climate CoLab Points, and the top point-getters will receive shares of a cash prize of $10,000.

An integrated proposal (such as a regional or global plan) includes ideas from all the people who contributed to the sub-proposals, not just those who created the integrated proposal itself.   To recognize all these contributions, a winning integrated proposal receives CoLab Points that are distributed among all these people.  The top point-getters will receive shares of a cash prize of $10,000.  Read more.

Submission Format

Building the plan. Your plan should consist of a collection of actions, which, when taken together, could effectively address climate change in this region.

You can select actions from:



Your plan should include actions that will impact these six sectors: 

Energy Supply



Buildings (commercial and residential)

Other (including agriculture, forestry, other land use, and waste management)

Adaptation (preparing for the impacts of climate change)


You will also be asked to: 

justify how the actions you selected fit together;

describe the key benefits, costs, challenges and timeline of the plan;

and estimate (working the Impact Assessment Fellows) the emissions that would result from the actions proposed (see below).


Tip:  When editing your proposal, use the proposal icon at the upper right of the toolbar select proposals. You can also use the hyperlink button to link in ideas from websites outside of the Climate CoLab. 


Evaluating impact. A key part of a climate action plan is an overall estimate of the greenhouse gas emissions that would result from the combination of all the actions you propose, decade by decade, from 2020 to 2050.

See your proposal’s impact tab for guidance on how to estimate these emissions.  You can also work with the Climate CoLab Impact Assessment Fellows, who can help you use the impact tools on the platform. 

Resources for Proposal Authors

China generally agrees on the science of greenhouse gasses and global climate change. Recently, China ranked number one in terms of carbon dioxide emissions, followed by the United States and India. In addition, the local environmental stresses created by things such as air pollution, water pollution, floods, and droughts, increased awareness that actions are urgently needed to address climate change and its impacts (NDRC, 2014). Though the challenges are great, there is potential for China to reduce emissions and mitigate the devastating effects of climate change.

In fact, China announced in November 2014 that it would peak CO2 emissions by 2030 at the latest, and increase the share of non-fossil fuel energy in the total primary energy supply to at least 20%. Given the current development trajectory and the ambitious goals that were set out - policies and innovations need to be in place to achieve such levels. As the target consists of changes in the energy mix, further measures to reduce absolute energy use could decrease emissions even further. According to Climate Action Tracker (2015), China’s 2020 pledge can be summarized into the following three elements:

Recently, China’s leading weather official warned that the impacts of climate change are already damaging the Chinese economy, with “losses equivalent to 1 percent of China’s economic output” in this century (Hulac, 2015). Concerns about energy security, efforts to reap the economic benefits of clean energy, the economic imperative of restructuring, and public concern about air pollution - are among the many reasons that have pushed China to tackle the challenge sooner rather than later. 

While many are now looking for a formal proposal from China, which is expected to be submitted in the summer of 2015, China is already taking action on multiple fronts to shift to a low-carbon path, and is making strides towards its stated goals by:

National efforts can, without a doubt, make a difference in reducing emissions from the top-down. We believe that non-State actors, especially scientists, researchers or bright individuals can make a difference. Obviously, the challenges to realize these plans are great. However, as research indicates, China's mitigation actions proposed for 2015 and 2020 are reachable at modest costs, and it is essential to engage China in stronger GHG emissions mitigation policies (Paltsev, et al., 2012). 



*The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), November 2014. China's Policies and Actions on Climate Change(2014)

*This annual report has been compiled by the NDRC to help the interested parties understand the policies and actions undertaken by China to address climate change. The report also highlights the achievements of China.


Benjamin Hulac, 2015. INVESTMENT: Half-trillion-dollar green bond market, led by China, looks for a regulator. ClimateWire: Wednesday, March 25, 2015.

China – Climate Action Tracker.

China FAQ, 2014. What Are China’s National Climate and Energy Targets?

Green, F., & Stern, N., 2014. An innovative and sustainable growth path for China: a critical decade. London: Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy and Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

International Energy Agency, 2014. 2012 CO2 Emissions Overview.

Paul Joffe, Geoffrey Henderson, 2015. China’s Climate Action Is Well Underway. World Resources Institute. April 16, 2015.

Ranping Song, Hongpeng Lei, 2014. Emissions Trading in China: First Reports from the Field.

Sergey Paltsev, , Jennifer Morris, YongxiaCai, Valerie Karplus, Henry Jacoby, 2012. The role of China in mitigating climate change. Energy Economics, Volume 34, Supplement 3: S444-S450.

The People’s Republic of China (2014a). National Action Plan on Climate Change (2014 – 2020)

The People’s Republic of China (2014b). Energy Development Strategy Action Plan (2014 – 2020)

Trevor Houser, 2013. China's 2012 Energy Report Card. Rhodium Group, LLC, February 27, 2013.