China’s 14th Five-Year Plan, for the period 2021–25, presents a real opportunity for China to link its long-term climate goals with its short-to medium-term social and economic development plans. China’s recent commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2060 has set a clear direction for its economy, but requires ratcheting up ambition on its near-term climate policy. Against this background, this paper discusses major action areas for China’s 14th Five-Year Plan after COVID-19, especially focusing on three aspects: the energy transition, a new type of sustainable urban development, and investment priorities. China’s role in the world is now of a magnitude that makes its actions in the immediate future critical to how the world goes forward. This decade, 2021–2030, is of fundamental importance to human history. If society locks in dirty and high-carbon capital, it raises profound risks of irreversible damage to the world’s climate. It is crucial for China to peak its emissions in the 14th Five-Year Plan (by 2025), making the transition earlier and cheaper, enhancing its international competitiveness in growing new markets and setting a strong example for the world. The benefits for China and the world as a whole could be immense.

Cameron Hepburn, Ye Qi, Nicholas Stern, Bob Ward, Chunping Xie, Dimitri Zenghelis, Towards carbon neutrality and China’s 14th Five-Year Plan: Clean energy transition, sustainable urban development, and investment priorities, Environmental Science and Ecotechnology, Volume 8, 2021, 100130, ISSN 2666-4984,

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