China’s New Leadership: Confronting Energy, Climate, and Environmental Challenges

Leading China experts and top media representatives participated in a ChinaFAQs press call today on how the country will address pressing environmental, climate and energy challenges at home and globally in the coming years. At the National People’s Congress beginning March 5, Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang are expected to formally become China’s president and premier, respectively. Other top spots in China’s ministries will also be assigned, with implications for China’s future of low-carbon development and for the U.S. The briefing was one of ChinaFAQs’ events highlighting the reasons for China’s action on low-carbon energy, including: energy security, economic competitiveness through technological innovation, and climate and environmental impacts.

Melanie Hart of the Center for American Progress talked about the importance of watching which key officials will be installed in these positions, noting that Li Keqiang has been working to put people in place to guide China through the remainder of its 12th Five Year Plan and take long-term low-carbon growth seriously.

Ailun Yang of the World Resources Institute discussed how this leadership transition is different from the previous one, in that the China of ten years ago was just beginning a new development model with much optimism for growth, while the new leaders of the current transition can more clearly see some of the negative environmental consequences of this model and seeks to address them.

Julio Friedmann of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center shared his insights on how China’s aggressive pursuit of low-carbon energy and its continued coal use present both opportunities and challenges for China’s new leaders to address, and for bilateral cooperation with the U.S.

The panel of experts also addressed media questions on how China’s new leaders may influence China’s future domestic environmental and energy regulation, its stance in international climate negotiations, and the potential for new bilateral partnerships. To hear a full recording of the press call, please use the media player below.

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