China aims for annual increases of 7% or more in R&D spending over each of the next 5 years, according to the highlights of a draft outline of the country’s 14th five-year plan, presented by Prime Minister Li Keqiang to the annual session of the National People’s Congress , which is currently underway in Beijing.
The 7% figure is one percentage point higher than the 6% target for gross domestic product growth this year, which means that R&D expenditure as a percentage of GDP is expected to increase, says Cao Cong, a science policy expert at the University of Nottingham’s campus in Ningbo , China. The Cao estimates that spending could reach 2.8% of GDP by 2025, up from an estimated 2.3% to 2.4% by 2020. The US spent 2.83% of GDP on R&D in 2018; The European Union spent 2.18%.
The draft outline calls on the state to increase spending on basic research by more than 10% already this year, in what Cao says is a response to academic researchers’ complaints about chronic underfunding of basic studies. The five-year plan, which covers 2021-25, will also sweeten tax incentives for producers to invest in research.
The target of using “more than 7%” allows for even faster growth, perh in the two digits. In 2019, total R&D spending increased by 12.5% year-on-year to $ 2.21 trillion ($ 322 billion), according to the National Bureau of Statistics of China. The priority of spending will be to increase innovation, Li told Congress. More details on how the money will be spent are likely to be covered in a new medium- and long-term science and technology development program to be released later.
But the plan sent environmentalists in the hope that it would provide more details on how the country will begin to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, targets set by President Xi Jinping in September 2020. The plan calls for lower energy consumption per capita. Unit of GDP with 13.5% and carbon emissions per. Unit of GDP by 18% over the next 5 years. But these goals are the same as for the previous five-year plan. And the goal of increasing non-fossil energy consumption to approx. 20% of total energy consumption is just a modest improvement over the 15% of the previous plan.
“This indicates that there is no strong intention to accelerate decarbonisation,” said Li Shuo, a climate policy adviser to Greenpeace East Asia. Zhang Shuwei, an environmental economist at the Draworld Environment Research Center, a political think tank in Beijing, says the goals are “not strict enough” to meet Xi’s goals, which he calls “worrying.”
China’s five-year plans, whose goals are often achieved, set goals with broad brush; details are elaborated in more specific sectoral plans by ministries and agencies. China’s National Energy Administration will have to address what to do about the country’s dependence on coal and, for example, current plans to build new coal – fired power plants. The National Energy Administration is supposed to put cs on coal and energy consumption. “The goal of coal capacity will be a very, very political discussion, because no matter how one sets that goal, it will make certain interest groups not very hpy,” Li Liu said. The Ministry of Ecology and the Environment is tasked with developing a plan to tackle climate change. Green groups are pushing to include a target to limit total emissions, but it is not yet clear if there will be one.
The 14th Five-Year Plan will receive a pro forma review by Congress and be proven at the closing session on March 11th.