Departing Chinese President Hu Jintao recently addressed a weeklong meeting of China’s party congress. In recognition of increased pressure on natural resources – including land and water rights – Hu called for more action to address the environmental problems that are increasingly impacting China’s population.
China must take the environmental impacts of rapid growth seriously, and with social unrest due to pollution, resource pressure, and health concerns on the uptick, Hu’s comments were a clear indication that China’s party leadership will respond.
Future energy policy in is China likely to focus on energy efficiency and conservation in addition to increased fossil fuel production and alternative extraction methods such as shale gas. In a piece by the Financial Times on November 8, Hu was quoted addressing the congress on the issue:
“Energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP as well as the discharge of major pollutants should decrease sharply,” said Hu.
The President’s attention to the issues of environmental degradation, energy demand, and the need for increased conservation is a positive sign that China’s leadership is ready to take more decisive actions in the future to curb emissions, implement efficiency measures, and safeguard clean air and water.
Vice President Xi Jinping is expected to succeed Hu as party chief and president in the near future.