Environmental information transparency performs social and learning functions indispensable for green growth. Still facing the challenges of a lack of local commitment and less than optimal institutional capacity, there is no doubt that China has made substantial progress on granting and enforcing public right to environmental information. This will help build the social infrastructure necessary for green growth — the rule of law, trust, social organizing, consensus building, social learning, and collective action. A focused approach is desirable because resources and capacity are limited in China — targeting pollutants and sectors that exert the most environmental and health risks as well as those that need technological upgrade most urgently. Then, in the long run, environmental information transparency serves the fundamental goals of ‘good public policy and legitimate governmental decision-making’ on environment-related issues in China, in line with both the green growth framework and the long-term development goal of constructing a harmonious society in China. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.