The topics of China’s environment and energy are full of paradoxes. China burns half of the world’s coal – the main culprit of the country’s abysmal air quality – yet it is growing the world’s biggest renewable energy market. Its environment and energy policies are full of lofty goals, yet local implementation has long fallen far behind. It was once seen as the laggard in international climate negotiations, but now it is positioned to become a leader in taking climate actions unilaterally and multilaterally.

Amidst mounting citizen outcry over the choking pollution, the government is under pressure to clear the airways as environmental health – with its linkage to human health – has become an issue of social stability. Premier Li Keqiang called for a “war on pollution” in 2014, and the upper echelons of the Communist Party have issued new mandates to the air and water “Action Plans” in a quest to show the public that it is serious about winning the “war.”

Organized into five themes (pollution, environmental governance, fossil fuel, clean energy transition, and climate change), this syllabus hopes to guide you to understand the symptoms and causes of, and potential solutions to China’s environmental and energy transitions. A sample of both Chinese and English language readings are arranged so that you can complete with an hour of reading a day, five days a week, over the course of five weeks. Among them, five most essential items are marked bold; we hope you will at least be able to complete them. Believing that pollution is fundamentally visual, we also included multimedia resources at the end of each week.

How China, the world’s manufacturing hub, powers itself while becoming greener is one of the world’s greatest quandaries. There’s a lot of work to be done so we’re glad you’re here to help.

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