Protected Carbon in China

China is home to a diverse range of protected areas. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has identified 101 protected areas in China that meet its conservation criteria. These protected areas vary in size, location, and remoteness and include both large remote regions such as the 37 thousand square kilometre Qinghai Hoh Xil World Heritage Site as well as local nature reserves like Shanghai's Chongming Dongtan Ramsar Site. It is worth noting that while these 101 areas are recognised and included in the IUCN's database, many other protected areas in China still need to be appraised. The total number of protected areas within China has been estimated to reach over 10,000. Thus, this analysis will only consider the subset of protected areas included in the IUCN's database. Nonetheless, the IUCN's recognition of these protected areas is a critical step towards their conservation and preservation, as it provides an international standard for their management and protection. The conservation efforts in these areas are vital, as they play an essential role in maintaining the ecological balance of China's diverse ecosystems. Historically, China's protected areas have been administered by numerous agencies, creating uncertainty around which regulations apply. In March 2018, the national government proposed new laws to place all protected areas under the Ministry of Natural Resources, empowered to consider both development and conservation goals. This "Guidance on Establishing a System of Protected Areas with National Parks as the Main Body" was adopted in 2019. Historically, at least one-third of China's nature reserves have been without a local management agency, staff, or sustained funding.

Basic Data

This table shows a summary of reserves and potential emissions from fossil fuel extraction projects in protected areas in China (including projects that are currently extracting, planned or idled).

  • Fossil Fuel Type
  • Fossil Fuel Quantity
  • CO2 Quantity (MT CO2e)
  • Oil & Gas
  • 618.0 MMBOE
  • 258.7
  • Coal
  • 702.0 MT
  • 1,404.0
  • Combined
  • 1,662.7

This table shows a summary of potential emissions from fossil fuel deposits under protected areas in China. Many of these are not yet the target of any industry activities and could more easily become part of a non-extraction policy.

  • Fossil Fuel Type
  • CO2 Quantity (MT CO2e)
  • Oil & Gas
  • 123.1
  • Coal
  • 2,028.0
  • Combined
  • 2,151.1

Profiting Companies and Governments

  • Fossil Fuel Type
  • Profiting Company
  • Oil & Gas
  • Citic China
  • Oil & Gas
  • PetroChina
  • Oil & Gas
  • Sinopec
  • Oil & Gas
  • Yunnan Energy
  • Coal
  • China Datang (35.34%), HKSCC Nominees Limited (32.9%), Tianjin Energy Investment Group (7%), Hebei Construction & Investment Group(6.93%), Beijing Energy (6.81%), Others (3.27%)
  • Coal
  • China Datang (35.34%), HKSCC Nominees Limited (32.9%), Tianjin Energy Investment Group (7%), Hebei Construction & Investment Group(6.93%), Beijing Energy Group (6.81%), Others(3.27%)
  • Coal
  • China Energy (46%), China Huaneng(26%), Others(28%)
  • Coal
  • China Energy (51%), Chaoyang Hongwen Investment Company (49%)
  • Coal
  • Inner Mongolia Energy Power Generation Investment Group

Affected Areas

  • Fossil Fuel Type
  • Affected Area
  • Oil & Gas
  • Dalai Lake National Nature Reserve, Inner Mongolia
  • Oil & Gas
  • Dianchi
  • Oil & Gas
  • Nan Dongting Wetland & Waterfowl Reserve
  • Oil & Gas
  • Shandong Yellow River Delta Wetland
  • Oil & Gas
  • Shuangtai Estuary
  • Oil & Gas
  • Xilin Gol Natural Steppe Protected Area
  • Oil & Gas
  • Yancheng
  • Coal
  • Xilin Gol Natural Steppe Protected Area

Early Warnings

This table shows untouched protected areas that have planned carbon extraction projects, along with their respective startup dates.

  • Affected Area
  • Startup Date
  • Nan Dongting Wetland & Waterfowl Reserve
  • 2029
  • Dalai Lake National Nature Reserve, Inner Mongolia
  • 2038
  • Dianchi
  • 2044

This page was created using the best data available. Despite this, errors and omissions are likely. Please contact our team with any errors or confirmation requests you may have. Further information on sources and methodology is available on our data page.