By Paul Davies, Bridget Rose Reineking and Andrew Westgate

At the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, President Xi Jinping asserted his country’s emerging leadership in environmental stewardship and pledged to build a “beautiful China”. In his speech to the 2,300 delegates and guests assembled for the Congress’s opening session, President Xi lauded China’s burgeoning role as a global marshal of environmental reform.

Xi’s speech follows major efforts to reduce energy consumption and conserve resources across China — such as green finance initiatives facilitating lending to firms in environmentally friendly sectors; programmes for the development of alternative energy sources; and efforts to strengthen and enforce environmental laws and regulations. President Xi pointed to these efforts and proclaimed that China’s pursuit of sustainable development is both paying off domestically, and setting an example globally. 

President Xi particularly emphasized the need for China to implement a sustainable development model and pursue healthy ecosystems, in addition to higher living standards. He outlined his vision for a ruling party committed to tackling the air, water, and soil pollution that has plagued China for years, and for China to assume the role of “torchbearer in the global endeavor for ecological civilization”.

President Xi’s address demonstrates a renewed commitment on the part of the People’s Republic of China to mitigate the damage to China’s environment and pollution, caused by decades of largely unrestrained development. Only a few months ago, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Xi defended the Paris Climate Agreement and urged continuing participation from all the agreement’s signatories. President Xi appears to be positioning China to assume a leading role on global climate change and green development issues.


Read more on the development of China’s environmental policy:

China’s Pilot Programmes Welcome Announced Launch of Emissions Trading System

Proposed Draft Legislation Clamps Down on Soil Pollution in China

Will Tougher Environmental Laws Mean Measurable Change for Pollution in China?

U.S. Withdrawal from Paris Agreement Creates an Opening for China to Lead

China One of First Countries to Sign Paris Agreement

This post was prepared with the assistance of Tegan Creedy in the London office of Latham & Watkins.