Environmental regulation is an important driving force of green technology innovation. In this paper, environmental policy instruments are classified into three categories: command-control, market-incentive and social-will. Based on the panel data of 30 provinces in China from 2010 to 2017, a fixed effect model and a panel threshold regression model are used to test the heterogeneous effects of different types of environmental policy instruments on the green technology innovation in China. The results show that: (1) Overall, China’s environmental policy instruments do not provide sufficient impetus for green technology innovation; (2) The impact of command-control environmental policy instruments on green technology innovation has a single threshold effect. When its intensity exceeds a certain threshold, green technology innovation is improved. The impact of market-incentive environmental policy instruments on the green technology innovation shows a double threshold effect, that is to say, only when its intensity maintained within a reasonable interval, can green technology innovation be promoted by it; (3) There is significant spatial difference in the impact of different types of environmental policy instruments on green technology innovation. In order to induce green technology innovation, it is necessary to formulate a combined and differentiated environmental policy system, while rationally adjusting the strength of different types of environmental policy instruments.