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China's Energy Reform and Climate Policy: The Ideas Motivating Change

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  • Olivia Boyd

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Abstract

China has embarked on an ambitious and unprecedented programme of energy reform and climate change mitigation. Yet the motivations for this important shift remain unclear. This paper surveys key central government documents and articles by China's leading energy academics to investigate the ideas influencing China's new energy and climate policies. Three key ideas in particular are supportive of greater climate mitigation than in the past. First, domestic energy security concerns have risen on the central government agenda as a result of electricity shortages and rapidly rising energy consumption. Such concerns have deeply influenced China's ambitious and largely successful energy efficiency policies. Second, growing awareness of the environmental constraints on economic growth in general, and the potential damages of dangerous climate change in particular, has prompted stronger official rhetoric in favour of green development. The appearance of targets and policies that specifically target carbon emissions reductions in the 12th FYP for the first time suggests that climate change mitigation is becoming a motivation for policy action in its own right, rather than simply a co-benefit of policies enacted for other purposes. Third, a conviction that the world is moving towards low-carbon energy forms has given rise to the belief that China must become a technological and economic leader in this transition. Large levels of public financing to support the development of China's wind power and solar PV sectors suggests that the Chinese government has strong vested interests in seeing China successfully compete and lead in global low-carbon energy markets. In order to understand the shift in China's approach to climate change since the 11th FYP, it is important to understand how new ideas such as these have reframed and reshaped the Chinese government's interests and objectives.

Suggested Citation

  • Olivia Boyd, 2012. "China's Energy Reform and Climate Policy: The Ideas Motivating Change," CCEP Working Papers 1205, Centre for Climate Economics & Policy, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:een:ccepwp:1205
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    File URL: http://ccep.anu.edu.au/data/2012/pdf/wpaper/CCEP1205.pdf
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. The motivations for China’s new energy and climate policies
      by Olivia Boyd in East Asia Forum on 2012-08-14 17:00:08
    2. CCEP Papers in June 2012
      by David Stern in Stochastic Trend on 2012-07-02 12:08:00

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Dobes Leo & Jotzo Frank & Stern David I., 2014. "The Economics of Global Climate Change: A Historical Literature Review," Review of Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 65(3), pages 281-320, December.
    2. Yingying Lu & David I. Stern, 2016. "Substitutability and the Cost of Climate Mitigation Policy," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 64(1), pages 81-107, May.
    3. Zheng, Siqi & Kahn, Matthew E. & Sun, Weizeng & Luo, Danglun, 2014. "Incentives for China's urban mayors to mitigate pollution externalities: The role of the central government and public environmentalism," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 61-71.
    4. Zhang, Sufang & Andrews-Speed, Philip & Zhao, Xiaoli & He, Yongxiu, 2013. "Interactions between renewable energy policy and renewable energy industrial policy: A critical analysis of China's policy approach to renewable energies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 342-353.
    5. Jotzo, Frank, 2013. "Emissions trading in China: Principles, design options and lessons from international practice," Working Papers 249405, Australian National University, Centre for Climate Economics & Policy.
    6. Siqi Zheng & Matthew E. Kahn & Weizeng Sun & Danglun Luo, 2013. "Incentivizing China's Urban Mayors to Mitigate Pollution Externalities: The Role of the Central Government and Public Environmentalism," NBER Working Papers 18872, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    China; climate change; mitigation; energy policy; environment; renewable energy; energy efficiency; carbon market; pollution; reform;

    JEL classification:

    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy
    • P28 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Natural Resources; Environment

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