China’s New Leaders Face Environmental Issues

March 18, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. emission
[ih-MISH-uhn] (n.) – harmful chemicals or gases released into the air
Example: Cars that run on gasoline produce a high amount of carbon emissions.

2. fossil fuel [fos-uhl  fyoo-uhl] (n.) – a natural energy source made from the dead bodies of ancient plants and animals
Example: The company uses non-fossil fuels, since fossil fuels contribute heavily to global warming.

3. slump [sluhmp]  (v.) – to suddenly drop or decrease
Example: When few people spend money, the prices of products will slump.

4. multifaceted [muhl-tee-fas-i-tid] (adj.) – having many aspects
Example:  Climate change is a multifaceted problem that government officials, citizens and scientists must solve together.

5. unrest [uhn-rest] (n.) – a state or condition where people are angry at the government and act violently
Example: The new leadership led to the country’s social unrest.

Read the text below.

China’s new leaders said that they aim to prioritize the country’s environmental concerns amidst economic growth; however, some critics say it is easier said than done.

Currently, China has the world’s largest greenhouse gas emissions. To address this problem, the country’s latest environmental plan is to increase its use of non-fossil fuel energy sources to 11.4% by 2015. Some officials have also proposed a carbon tax for companies that release harmful carbon emissions.

Fortunately for China, its use of non-fossil fuels rose to more than 9% last year while use of electricity slumped from 11.7% in 2011 to 5.5% in 2012.

But according to Julio Friedmann, technical program manager for the US-China Clean Energy Research Center for Advanced Coal Technology, China’s use of coal, a natural resource, may have a 50-60% increase in the future.

Ailun Yang, a senior associate at the World Resources Institute, added that China’s demand for coal is increasing because of the country’s fast-growing economy. She suggested that the government tax other resources, including coal. She said that the carbon tax would tax companies alone while a resource tax would tax all consumers.

Analysts at World Resources Institute also said that people may not expect any progress until after 2015.

The analysts said that to improve the country’s environment, China has to solve multifaceted problems involving the economy, climate change, social unrest, and energy sources.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Why is protecting the environment difficult for a country with a big economy?
·         Do you agree that the environment should be a top priority of leaders? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         Think of an environmental problem in your country. How are people solving this problem?
·         How do you think countries may help each other in solving environmental problems?


March 18, 2013