Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development

China’s Zero-Waste Cities Plan to Mitigate Methane and Other Waste-Sector Emissions During the 14th Five-Year Period

December 16, 2021

On 15 December 2021, the China Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) issued the 14th Five-Year Work Plan on the Construction of Zero-Waste Cities, together with another 17 national ministries and agencies. The Work Plan identifies the sectors, timeline, and process for building 100 zero-waste cities by 2025.*

With this goal in mind, the Work Plan serves as a guide for China’s efforts to mitigate climate and other pollutants from the key waste-generating sectors, including industry, agriculture, construction, and households.

Of particular note, a number of the measures provided in the Work Plan contribute to methane emissions reduction, including actions to improve solid waste disposal in industrial sources, reduce household waste landfills, manage and reuse livestock waste, and control the application of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

The Work Plan’s timeline and process for identifying and building 100 zero-waste cities are as follows:

  • By 15 February 2022. Provincial Departments of Ecology and Environment submit to MEE candidate zero-waste cities. MEE then finalizes the list of approved candidates.
  • By end of July 2022. Cities that make to the list of 100 zero-waste cities promulgate their municipal 14th Five-Year Implementation Plan on the Construction of a Zero-Waste City.
  • By end of every January during 2023-2025. The 100 zero-waste cities submit an annual report describing their actions, achievements, and challenges to the Provincial Departments of Ecology and Environment.
  • By end of every March during 2023-2025. The Provincial Departments of Ecology and Environment submit to MEE their annual summary reports on their zero-waste cities.

According to the Global Methane Assessment released by the UN Environment Program (UNEP) and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), aggressively cutting methane emissions is the fastest and most effective way to reduce the rate of warming and keep the global average temperature from breaching the 1.5°C barrier above preindustrial levels. Available mitigation measures can cut emissions from human activities by 45 percent and avoid nearly 0.3 °C of warming by the 2040s, as well as avoid 255,000 premature deaths and 26 million tonnes of crop losses worldwide every year.

*Note that the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and the State Council previously announced the target of building 100 zero-waste cities by 2025 on 2 November 2021.

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