Towards cooperative policy approaches in China--Drivers for voluntary agreements on industrial energy efficiency in Nanjing
Energy efficiency is a national priority for China as rapid energy consumption growth aggravates its greenhouse gas emissions, local air pollution and energy scarcity. In the 1990s, a large number of voluntary agreements emerged in industrialised countries in order to improve industrial energy efficiency. These experiences are now taken into account in China. This article analyses the drivers for voluntary agreements on industrial energy efficiency in China, based on a case study of three enterprises in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province. Furthermore, the article reviews the institutional set-up of energy policy and investigates the pertaining policy culture. From the findings, conclusions are drawn on the role of voluntary agreements within China's larger policy context. We conclude that opposed to avoiding stricter regulation, voluntary agreements in Nanjing are reinterpreted in view of more stringent national provisions on energy efficiency in the 11th Five Year Plan. Hence, agreements have evolved into an implementation tool of national policy at the local level. For industry, another major driver for participation was identified as improving its relations with local authorities. Voluntary agreements showed to have the potential to overcome traditional constraints of implementing top-down policies at the local level in China.
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