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Barriers to the implementation of environmental policies at the local level in China


  • Kostka, Genia


China's national leaders have recently made a priority of changing lanes from a pollution-intensive, growth-at-any-cost model to a resource-efficient and sustainable one. The immense challenges of rapid urbanization are one aspect of the problem. Central-local government relations are another source of challenges, since the central government's green agenda does not always find willing followers at lower levels. This paper identifies barriers to a more comprehensive implementation of environmental policies at the local level in China's urban areas and suggests ways to reduce or remove them. The research focuses particularly on the reasons for the gap between national plans and policy outcomes. Although environmental goals and policies at the national level are quite ambitious and comprehensive, insufficient and inconsistent local level implementation can hold back significant improvements in urban environmental quality. By analyzing local institutional and behavioral obstacles and by highlighting best-practice examples from China and elsewhere, the paper outlines options that can be used at the national and local levels to close the local"environmental implementation gap."The findings emphasize the need to create additional incentives and increase local implementation capacities.

Suggested Citation

  • Kostka, Genia, 2014. "Barriers to the implementation of environmental policies at the local level in China," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7016, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:7016

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    3. Song, Chun & Sesmero, Juan Pablo, 2017. "Tenure Stability and Environmental Performance: a Study of Chinese Cities," 2017 Annual Meeting, July 30-August 1, Chicago, Illinois 258033, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    4. Adeleke Oladapo Banwo & Jianguo Du, 2019. "Workplace pro-environmental behaviors in small and medium-sized enterprises: an employee level analysis," Journal of Global Entrepreneurship Research, Springer;UNESCO Chair in Entrepreneurship, vol. 9(1), pages 1-20, December.
    5. Hiroshi Ito & Nobuo Kawazoe, 2018. "A review of Toyota City’s eco-policy: changes in citizens’ awareness between 2012 and 2015," Urban Research & Practice, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(1), pages 19-36, January.
    6. Sarah E. Anderson & Mark T. Buntaine & Mengdi Liu & Bing Zhang, 2019. "Non‐Governmental Monitoring of Local Governments Increases Compliance with Central Mandates: A National‐Scale Field Experiment in China," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 63(3), pages 626-643, July.
    7. Wu, Jing & Chang, I-Shin & Yilihamu, Qimanguli & Zhou, Yu, 2017. "Study on the practice of public participation in environmental impact assessment by environmental non-governmental organizations in China," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 186-200.
    8. Guangdong Xu & Wenming Xu & Shudan Xu, 2018. "Does the establishment of the Ministry of Environmental Protection matter for addressing China’s pollution problems? Empirical evidence from listed companies," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 19(3), pages 195-224, August.
    9. Zhaohui Chong & Chenglin Qin & Xinyue Ye, 2016. "Environmental Regulation, Economic Network and Sustainable Growth of Urban Agglomerations in China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(5), pages 1-21, May.
    10. Gregory N. Sixt & Claudia Strambo & Jingjing Zhang & Nicholas Chow & Jie Liu & Guoyi Han, 2020. "Assessing the Level of Inter-Sectoral Policy Integration for Governance in the Water–Energy Nexus: A Comparative Study of Los Angeles and Beijing," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(17), pages 1-19, September.
    11. Chen Huang & Tao Chen & Hongtao Yi & Xiaolin Xu & Shiying Chen & Wenna Chen, 2017. "Collaborative Environmental Governance, Inter-Agency Cooperation and Local Water Sustainability in China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(12), pages 1-17, December.
    12. Karoliina Isoaho & Alexandra Goritz & Nicolai Schulz, 2016. "Governing clean energy transitions in China and India: A comparative political economy analysis," WIDER Working Paper Series 028, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
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    14. Karoliina Isoaho & Alexandra Goritz & Nicolai Schulz, 2016. "Governing clean energy transitions in China and India: A comparative political economy analysis," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2016-28, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

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    Environmental Economics&Policies; Transport Economics Policy&Planning; Climate Change Mitigation and Green House Gases; Climate Change Economics; Public Sector Management and Reform;
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