Climate Change Policy and Law in China
Oxford Handbook of International Climate Change Law, eds. Gray, Tarasofsky, Carlarne, 2016
36 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2014 Last revised: 29 Oct 2017
Date Written: September 18, 2014
The extraordinary growth of greenhouse gas emissions in China represents the single greatest challenge to global climate change efforts in coming decades. China is the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases, having surpassed the United States in 2006. China’s greenhouse gas emissions accounted for nearly a third (29 percent) of the global total in 2011, slightly more than emissions of the United States and the European Union combined (27 percent). This state of affairs is the result of more than three decades of energy-intensive, coal-fired economic growth, wherein China’s GDP grew by an average of 10 percent a year.
This chapter offers an overview of China’s developing climate change response by examining the framework on the books and significant implementation challenges in practice. First, it offers background on China’s contribution to global climate change and its positions in international climate negotiations. Second, it describes China’s formal framework of climate change-related laws and policies. This body of authorities has expanded significantly since the beginning of China’s 11th five-year plan in 2006. This part also describes the preliminary results as reported by official and third party sources. Finally, this chapter concludes by discussing several dynamics that will influence the efficacy of China’s climate change efforts in practice. These include the evolution of various co-benefits (i.e., economic growth, pollution reduction, social stability, and enhancement of international reputation) and their impact on China’s cost-benefit calculation for climate change action; the extent to which implementation problems can be resolved; and whether China’s still developing interior regions continue to be the locus of carbon outsourcing (from wealthier coastal regions of China) or instead shift toward a low-carbon growth path.
Keywords: China, environment, climate change, law, policy, energy, pollution, global warming
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