China's Climate Policy
By Gang Chen
Published May 1st 2012 by Routledge – 130 pages
Series: China Policy Series
To understand China’s climate change policy is not easy, as the country itself is a paradox actor in global climate political economy: it used to take very suspicious stand on the scientific certainty of climate change, but recently it has become a signatory and firm supporter of the Kyoto Protocol; it stubbornly refuses to accept any emission cutting obligations, but has gradually taken the lead in developing renewable energies and carbon trading business; it accuses western countries of their hypocrisy and irresponsibility, but ironically maintains close cooperation with them on low-carbon projects; it fears climate mitigation commitments may hamper the economic growth, but meanwhile spends most lavishly on the research and development of clean energy and other green technologies.
This book, unlike other researches which explain China’s climate policy from pure economics or politics/foreign policy perspectives, provides a panoramic view over China’s climate-related regulations, laws and policies as well as various government and non-government actors involved in the climate politics. Through analyzing the political and socioeconomic factors that influence the world’s largest carbon emitter’s participation into the global collective actions against climate change, the book argues that as a vast continental state with a mix of authoritarian politics and a quasi-liberalised market economy, China’s climate policy process is fragmented and self-defensive, seemingly having little room for significant compromises or changes; yet in response to the mounting international pressures and energy security concerns and attracted by lucrative carbon businesses and clean energy market, the regime shows some sort of better-than-expected flexibility and shrewdness in coping with the newly-emerged challenges. Its future climate actions, whether effective or not, are vital not only for the success of the global mitigation effort, but for China’s own economic restructure and sustainable development.
The book is a unique research monograph on the evolving domestic and foreign policies taken by the Chinese government to tackle climate change challenges. It concludes that instead of being motivated by concern about its vulnerability to climate change, Chinese climate-related policies have been mainly driven by its intensive attention to energy security, business opportunities lying in emerging green industries and image consideration in the global climate politics.
Introduction 1. China’s Participation in Global Climate Politics 2. Is China’s Negotiating Position Responsible? 3. China’s Energy and Environmental Bureaucracy 4. Largest Beneficiary from Carbon Trade 5. China’s Effort to Promote Clean Energy 6. Controversial Alternatives: Great Leap Forward in Hydro and Nuclear Energy 7. Tianjin: Model City of Low-carbon Economy 8. Emerging Civil Society in China’s Climate Politics 9. Conclusion: Motivations behind Policy Consistencies and Variations
Chen Gang is Research Fellow at the East Asian Institute (EAI), National University of Singapore. Since joining the EAI in 2007, he has been tracing China’s environmental and energy policies and publishing extensively about the sustainable development of China. His research papers have appeared in internationally-refereed journals such as The International Spectator, China: An International Journal, The Chinese Journal of International Politics, and The Journal of East Asian Affairs. He has also contributed a number of book chapters on China’s environmental governance, natural disaster management, and climate change politics to edited volumes published by Routledge, Rowman & Littlefield, and other scholarly publishers. He constantly provides policy papers and consultancies to the Government of Singapore, and is frequently interviewed by media such as Wall Street Journal, The Economist, BBC, NHK, Channel NewsAsia and Xinhua News Agency.