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February 10, 2018

Responding To: Building a Career in Climate Change Research

From Energy Issues to Climate Change

Zhang Xiliang

My research had a natural transition from energy issues to climate change. In the past, I studied energy issues and was devoted to policy research on new energy and renewable energy, such as probing solutions for China’s energy security and ecological issues. I found it very interesting. Later, as climate change became more significant, I switched my focus. As I see it, climate change is indeed a very important issue closely related to the survival of mankind as well as the future of the world. It is the biggest threat to humanity.

Also, there are many environmental issues in China, thus studying the ways to deal with climate change is very necessary. This research topic not only covers global interests, but also could help China to solve a series of problems. I think it is a very meaningful focus. As China develops researcher’s viewpoints are also evolving. In the past, it was always the United States or Europe helping China to improve our research competence and research methods. However, that has gradually changed. The study of climate change in China has experienced three phases: first, we studied China from our own perspective; second, we studied China from the global perspective, as China is an important world power and it has increasing international communications with other countries; and third, we studied the global issues from China’s perspective.

Zhang Xiliang is executive director of the Institute of Energy, Environment and the Economy at Tsinghua University. He is a co-convener of the Initiative for U.S. -China Dialogue on Global Issues faculty research group on climate change.

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