Utilizing a total of 31 non-numerical variables on environmental protection values from 1990–2014 in the World Values Survey (WVS) database (i.e., WVS2, WVS3, WVS4, WVS5 and WVS6), this study analyses the temporal changes of environment protection values in China and identifies the key factors related to these changes. We define indices for the standardized values of action and attitudes to environmental protection after clustering the 31 variables into two categories according to the meanings of their variable labels. Through statistical analysis on the possible impacting variables (e.g., GDP (gross domestic product) per capita, carbon emissions per capita, industrial wastes, and rural township enterprises), we find that the variable rural township enterprises is the main factor that causes obvious changes in action and attitude, coupled with other environmental impacts at home and abroad, such as economic globalization, the financial crisis, and frequent natural disasters. In particular, the significant improvement in action during the period from the late 2000s to early 2010s is mainly due to switching the emphasis from quantity to quality. The structural adjustment and industrial upgrade of township enterprises were promoted as important measures to improve environmental values according to Document No. 1 of the Central Committee of the People’s Republic of China in 2010.