By Kasper Sulkjær Andersen
This article is a part of a master's thesis from 2013.
1 Often cited western translation of the Chinese 中國, which means ‘central/middle state(s)’.
2 Officially known as The People’s Republic of China
but will for the sake of simplicity, here on after, be referred to as China in the present dissertation.
3 PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (2012): Trends in Global CO2 Emissions. Available from:
4 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
5 Referring to the group of newly industrialised economies consisting of Brazil, Russia, India and China.
6 Or, at the very least a climate agreement without the active participation of China will have a greatly reduced potential to ensure that increases in average temperatures stay within the 2°C bracket (IPCC).
7 See for instance Lynas’ (2009) and Vidal’s (2009) accounts of Chinese negotiating behaviour at the COP15, Copenhagen 2009, where China was accused of being one of the main reasons for the “weak” Copenhagen Accord.
8 NDRC (2007); State Council (2008)
9 The 10th, 11th and 12th.
10 Most importantly, the 11th FYP adopted a quantitative target of reducing energy intensity by 20 percent by 2010.
11 Most importantly, the 12th FYP adopted a quantitative target of reducing energy intensity by an additional 16 percent by 2015 as well as reducing carbon intensity by 17 percent.
12 By 2015, renewable energy is targeted to make up 11,4 % percent of the total Chinese energy supply.
13 Alternatively, refer to Appendix A
for a more detailed description of the evolvement of China’s climate change policy.
14 Figure 1.0
builds on the factual insights regarding China’s climate policy provided primarily by Bjørkum (2005); Heggelund (2007); Heggelund et.al. (2010); Lewis (2011); Stensdal (2012a).
15 It is to my knowledge only Rong (2010) that have sought to apply a somewhat similar analytical framework, to that utilised here, to the case of China. However, Rong’s analysis relies on a different set of operationalisations of key variables and does not provide the same level of detail as the present dissertation. Most importantly, Rong’s analysis does not incorporate a cost-benefit analysis as is the case here.
16 See Section 2.0
and Section 3.0
17 The present dissertation will utilise the words ambition
(ambitious) and proaction
(proactive) synonymously despite the fact that the two words are semantically dissimilar. However, in the general use of language asserting proaction more often than not invokes a sense of ambition. When someone acts proactively he/she is committed to improve upon the status quo
and not worsen it. Therefore, the two words will be used interchangeably throughout the dissertation.
18 China’s domestic climate policy will sometimes be referred to as ‘China’s national climate policy’.
19 The 10th, 11th, and the 12th.
20 Due for instance to a deficient implementation process.
21 It is important to emphasise that no consensus exists on the ‘right’ or authoritative definition of what constitutes foreign policy (Barkdull & Harris (2009)). However, the chosen definition represents the core of the multitude of feasible definitions (See Holsti (1995); Barkdull & Harris (2002); Harris (2008)).
22 That is not to say that international factors do not hold any explanatory power, but domestic factors take primacy in regards to determining China’s climate policy.
23 I.e. China’s climate policy.
24 See Section 3.0
25 Particularly, the analysis of climate policies of Western countries.
26 For instance, variants of structural realism
(e.g. Waltz, 1979).
27 Please refer to the assumptions elucidated in sub-section 1.2.1
28 A notable exception is neoclassical realism which manages to include state characteristics in its scope. However, in the theory’s overall explanatory hierarchy, systemic variables still take primacy over domestic variables making it less suitable for the present purposes.
29 Barkdull & Harris (2002:69).
30 Systemic level in this context is not to be confused or conflated with how the term is employed in mainstream IR theory. Rather, the systemic level exclusively refers to a conceptualisation of the state as a unitary actor which can be observed from the outside as opposed to opening ‘the black box’.
31‘Domestic’ refers to a conflation of the state-centric and societal level of analysis as exemplified by Figure 1.1
32 I.e. actors such as NGOs, social movements, media etc.
33 Attempts, however, have been made at arguing for an increased level of pluralism in China placing civil society actors as central drivers of change. The most prominent examples include Mertha (2008); Schröeder (2008, 2012); Kassiola & Guo (2010).
34 This concept will be elucidated in Section 2.0
and Section 3.0
35 I.e. in order to achieve a more comprehensive explanation theories are combined and their respective analytical strengths employed not
to explain the same empirical phenomenon (competitive strategy
) but, rather, different aspects of this phenomenon.
36 I.e. unconducive
in the sense that the interests favouring pro-growth policies are predominant within China’s climate policy-making process resulting in a crowding out of the interests of more progressive climate policy actors.
37 Or interest-based explanation. Both terms will be used interchangeably throughout this dissertation.
38 Interests in the present dissertation are defined in economistic terms as an independent (objective) attribute of actors. Actors are assumed to have no influence on the contents of their interests. In this regards, the conceptualisation of interests employed here differs markedly from the conceptualization used by social constructivists, where interests are assumed to be constituted by social dynamics.
39 Most notably, Robert Keohane (1984).
40 These are parallel to the assumptions underpinning neoclassical economic theory. Actors are perceived as homo economicus
(Bowles & Gintis (1993)).
41 Or the Rational Policy Model (Allison, 1969).
42 As will be elucidated in Section 3.0
ecological vulnerability parallels climate vulnerability.
43 Costs of abatement can be conceptualised in two ways according to the model. Either as the “resource outlays associated with a governmental position” (Sprinz & Vaahtoranta, 1994:78) expressed as the share of GDP, on the one hand, or economic capacity, on the other hand, as wealthier countries due to a higher level of technology are assumed to be able to restructure their economies more cost-efficiently compared to developing countries.
44 Sprinz & Vaahtoranta, 1994:81
45 I.e. Model A
46 Sprinz & Vaahtoranta (1994) employ Model A as a static heuristic typology but do not account for the theoretical possibility of countries changing from one categorisation to another (e.g. moving from a position as a dragger
country to a position as an intermediate
47 Following from the underlying logic expressed in Sprinz & Vaahtoranta’s (1994) original model I have expanded the model in order to fit the scope of the analysis of the present dissertation. Namely, the introduction of a ‘dynamic’ factor (expressed by the arrows in the model) makes the model applicable not only to the categorisation of countries but also to the prediction of movements in the environmental policies of countries.
48 Due to structural factors that cannot easily be changed such as the level of GDP and the availability of technology.
49 See below (Section 2.2
50 I.e. outcomes deviating from objective national interests as assumed in the Unitary Actor Model.
51 Ma (2010:40) for instance refers to such a simplified view of Chinese politics as Western fascination with China’s ’authoritarian chic
52 Wilson Center: China Environment Series 1 (1997). The illustration originates from Kenneth Lieberthal’s article: “China’s Governing System And Its Impact on Environmental Policy Implementation”. NB: The depiction illustrates a specific example related to FA in the context of Chinese environmental policy-making. However, the depiction is transferable across policy areas.
53 Most importantly, the assumptions of rationality and utility-maximisation.
54 See for instance Císcar & Soria (2002); Pittel & Rübbelke (2008); Clemons & Schimmelbusch (2007).
55 E.g. Nash (1950a; 1950b; 1951).
56 Adapted from Clemons & Schimmelbusch, 2007:3
57 Not knowing what the other prisoner decides.
58 I.e. non-rival and non-exclusive (see Hardin, 1968).
59 Global climate change politics is ultimately about reducing GHG emissions so as to protect the future viability of the planetary environment.
60 Or defection
61 The inclusion of domestic dynamics is also warranted by Snidal’s (1985:42) observation that:”(…) states’ preferences may not always be tightly linked to objective understandings of an issue area. Perceptions and information processing, as well as organizational or bureaucratic imperatives, may change the relevant payoffs for decision makers. Theoretical understanding of such factors may illuminate additional considerations that influence states’ decisions on foreign policy alternatives”.
62 I.e. some countries are predicted to bear the brunt of global climate change whereas others will barely be affected.
63 Whether viewed from the outside (i.e. aggregated national interest) or within the state.
64 Some definitional controversy exists on what constitutes a unit
and what constitutes a case
. Gerring (2004) considers a unit and case as distinct analytical entities whereas de Vaus (2001) makes no distinction between unit and case and conflates the two. For the present purposes, it makes no analytical difference whether China’s climate policy is considered either the unit or the case of analysis. Thus, for the sake of simplicity unit
will henceforth denote the object under scrutiny.
65 The abductive position was originally developed by the American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914). See Haig (2005) for a thorough introduction to the abductive method.
66 The contents of this definition of climate vulnerability will be elucidated in detail in Section 3.2.3
67 As well as the only (semi-)authoritarian country for that matter.
68 I.e. Brazil, South Africa, India and China.
69 Predominantly research reports, academic articles etc.
70 Either directly by the Chinese government or by research communities outside of China
71 Please refer to Appendix D
for the utilised interview-guide.
72 Section 2.0
73 See Füssel (2007); Brooks et. al. (2005); Luers, 2005; O’Brien et. al. (2004) for a comprehensive overview of the literature on climate vulnerability.
74 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
75 ICRISAT, 2009:4
76 Such as the economic repercussions of gradually decreasing crop yields, loss of trade etc.
77 For access to the dataset see http://www.emdat.be/database
78 For an elaboration on the utilised method please refer to Appendix B
79 Primarily, Cline (2007).
80 Project coordinated by Stanford University involving the foremost expertise in the field of climate economics. See http://emf.stanford.edu/research/emf22/ for project details.
81 Developed by McKinsey & Company. Project details available from: http://www.mckinsey.com/client_service/sustainability/latest_thinking/greenhouse_gas_abatement_cost_curves
82 Conducive to climate policy proaction/ambition. Please refer to section 2.0
for an elaboration.
83 I.e. interests.
84 See for instance Dennis C. Mueller’s (2003) Public Choice III
for a comprehensive introduction to the main underpinnings and elements of public choice theory.
85 See Section 1.1
(or alternatively, Appendix A
86 I.e. only superficially ambitious.
87 See Section 5.0
88 China’s quantitative targets are primarily couched in relative terms (e.g. energy intensity and carbon intensity targets).
89 Obviously, it follows that the BAU scenario, ceteris paribus
, has a higher level of overall emissions than the ‘alternative’ scenario which is strived for.
90 As intensity targets depend on GDP growth, Stern and Jotzo (2010) have to assume growth rates in order to convert their absolute reduction targets. For the US a growth rate of 2,5 percent p.a. and for the EU a 2.0 percent p.a. growth rate is assumed.
91 Through the reduction in large and ‘dirty’ industries.
92 Figure 5.0
is an elaboration of the causal model presented in Section 2.4
93 See Section 2.0
94 As explained in the theoretical section conducive in the sense of a policy environment favouring a proactive/ambitious Chinese climate policy.
95 Lin et. al. (2006); State Council (2008); NDRC (2007).
96 Dasgupta et. al. (2007); IPCC (2007); Cline (2007)
97 See http://germanwatch.org/en/cri
98 See http://www.cgdev.org/files/1424759_file_Wheeler_Quantifying_Vulnerability_FINAL.pdf for access to the final report and http://www.cgdev.org/content/publications/detail/1424986 for the utilised dataset.
99 See http://daraint.org/climate-vulnerability-monitor/climate-vulnerability-monitor-2012/climate/ for access to the final report and http://daraint.org/climate-vulnerability-monitor/climate-vulnerability-monitor-2012/data/ for access to the underlying data.
100 Please refer to Section 188.8.131.52
for an elaboration on the distinction between direct
101 According to the IPCC (2007:484), a modest 30 cm sea-level rise, is likely to inundate roughly 81.000 km2 of China’s coastal area. In light of this, current scenarios of the impact of climate change on sea-level rise predict that the world’s seas could rise anywhere between 1-3 m in this century depending on the rate of reduction of GHGs emissions (Dasgupta et. al., 2007)
102 The north of China is likely, due to decreased rainfall, to experience prolonged periods of drought whereas correspondingly the southern regions are more inclined to experience periods of floods due to increases in rainfall (Lin et. al, 2006). Correspondingly, the IPCC (2007) has recorded an increase in incidents of both droughts and floods in China from the beginning of the 1990s and onwards (IPCC, 2007:476).
103 The IPCC (2007) estimates that the frequency and intensity of strong cyclones in China has increased since the 1950s; between 1950 and 2004 21 extreme cyclones were recorded of which 14 occurred between 1986 to 2004, which is a considerable rise in occurrence in recent time. Also, the intensity of cyclones has increased in recent years. Particularly, the period between 1990-2004 was marked by fewer although increasingly powerful cyclones (Lin et. al., 2006:15) causing devastation to the Chinese mainland.
104 Climate change is likely to adversely affect agriculture through two main channels of transmission; firstly, the long-term sustainability of agricultural production in terms of crop yields and the availability of water due to changes in temperature and precipitation patterns represent the primary channel of transmission. Secondly, agricultural production will have to endure severe short-term crop losses caused by extreme weather events such as droughts, floods and tropical storms.
105 This specific period has been chosen as it incorporates both the years prior
and the years after
the shift in China’s climate policy.
106 See Appendix B
for an elaboration of the utilised method used to compute the numbers in Figure 5.2
107 It is important to emphasise that GermanWatch utilises a different dataset than the one used for the calculations in Figure 5.2
which makes it suitable for purposes of cross-referencing.
108 All climate risk index reports from 2006 onwards can be downloaded through the following link: http://germanwatch.org/en/cri.
109 Dasgupta et. al. (2007; 2009) uses 2000 as the baseline year. I.e. the underlying data for population and socioeconomic conditions have been held constant at their year 2000-level.
110 Dasgupta et. al., 2009:384
111 Dasgupta et. al., 2007:32
112 Given that it is highly unlikely that future sea-level rise will increase beyond 3 m (at least within the next 50 years) any projections beyond this limit are not included in the present analysis.
113 As mentioned in Section 184.108.40.206
114 Research has shown that higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can prove advantageous for the growth of some crops. This effect, however, has not been included in the present analysis as the effect only applies to certain crops.
115 This percentage is produced by dividing the estimate for the reduced agricultural output (in 2003 USD) with China’s GDP in 2003 current USD (Source: World Bank). The result is then multiplied by factor 100 so as to produce a percentage value.
116 Especially, when taking into consideration that China is still largely regarded as a developing country.
117 See Section 220.127.116.11
for an elaboration on the measurement of abatement costs.
118 As mentioned in Section 18.104.22.168
other leading abatement cost functions have a tendency to either systemically overestimate or underestimate costs of reduction whereas the results of the RICE-model tend to represent middle values.
119 The Copenhagen Accord is available through the link: http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2009/cop15/eng/11a01.pdf
120 Cline, 2011:36.
121 Which is analytically advantageous given that the combination of conservative climate vulnerability estimates and highly
ambitious abatement cost estimates creates the toughest test environment in terms of the validity of Model A. See Section 5.1.3
122 See Section 22.214.171.124
123 The summation of costs and benefits carried out in Figure 5.6
are based on the findings of the sub-sections of the present analysis. As mentioned above, the numbers differ in nature in terms of some representing actual costs/benefits whereas others represent projected costs/benefits. As mentioned above, this methodological hurdle has been resolved by assuming that actual and projected can be equated.
124 The direct impact estimate summarises the average costs of extreme weather events in the period 1990-2009 and the costs of a 1m sea-level rise.
125 9,3 percent in 2011 (The World Bank).
126 See Appendix C
for an elaboration on China’s environmental crisis.
127 Discounting the costs of abatement in terms of China’s environmental crisis.
128 I am fully aware that classic game-theory (see Section 2.3
) would posit that China’s lack of ambition can be explained as a rational and deliberate Chinese strategy. The reasoning following the lines of: “why should China clean up the mess when it is much cheaper to let other countries intervene and clean up the mess for them?” However, as elucidated elsewhere, classic game theory is not
included in the present dissertation for reasons specified in Section 2.3
129 Much like the firm in microeconomics faced with changing external production conditions such as changed consumer demand and/or higher production costs etc. In this situation the firm has to adjust the quantity produced in order to reflect the changed external conditions. The firm will produce just
enough to reflect the changed production conditions since producing either more or less is economically sub-optimal.
130 As demonstrated by Section 4.0
131 See Section 126.96.36.199
132 The magnitude of abatement costs depends both on the size and type of the emission reduction in question (which is variable in the short run), as well as factors that are fixed in the short run such as the level of technology and economic structure.
133 Cline’s (2011) scenario was, however, useful for the first part of the cost-benefit analysis given the assumption that China’s abatement efforts under a highly ambitious scenario would actually manage to arrest, or at least, slow down dangerous anthropogenic climate change.
134 Most often within the EU Emissions Trading System (EU-ETS) as this is the largest carbon market in the world.
135 United Nations Environment Programme
136 All figures within the present sub-section are taken from the CDM/JI Pipeline Database maintained by UNEP Risoe Centre. The database can be accessed and downloaded through the following link: http://www.cdmpipeline.org/
137 This report is downloadable through the following link: http://cdm.unfccc.int/about/dev_ben/index.html
138 The UNFCCC does not specify whether this amount is in current or constant USD. In order to calculate the ratio between revenue and GDP I have assumed that the amount is in current 2011 USD. This should not be a methodological problem since inflation has been limited in the 5-year period.
139 The graph depicts credit prices in secondary carbon markets. The utilised data was provided as a courtesy of senior researcher Jørgen Fenhann at the UNEP Risø branch.
140 Foreign Direct Investment.
141 World Bank, 2004:126
142 See Section 5.1.3
143 See Section 4.1
144 See Section 1.4.1
145 I.e. a competitive strategy
146 I.e. conducive to climate policy proaction
147 The implications of which was elucidated in the previous analytical section.
148 Status quo
connotes the policy environment existing prior to external shocks. As was elucidated in Section 2.4
, the direct causation between X and Z is assumed to precede the indirect (or mediated) causation between X, Z and Y.
149 China still has untapped potential in terms of climate policy ambition (See Section 4.1
150 I.e. the main perpetrators of China’s cliamte policy.
151 Policy actor embedded within the formal Chinese state apparatus.
152 Policy actors located ‘outside’ of the formal Chinese state apparatus.
153 This is an official website set up by the Chinese government to inform about Chinese efforts in terms of climate change. The website can be accessed through the following link: http://en.ccchina.gov.cn/
154 This leading group is also sometimes referred to as the National Leading Committee on Climate Change (NLCCC). However, in the present dissertation the leading group will be referred to as NLWGACC.
155 Within the Chinese bureaucracy it is customary to set up this type of ad-hoc
working groups when dealing with crosscutting policy issues (Gang, 2012). Climate change is a clear case in point since this policy issue incorporates the environment, energy, technology, meteorology and foreign affairs.
156 The policy actors in bold are considered to be the most active policy actors in the formulation of China’s climate policy (based on the secondary literature and the conducted interview with Jørgen Delman).
157 Although the State Council is accorded with the highest policy-making authority in the Chinese climate policy-making process this bureaucratic actor is rarely involved directly in the formulation of China’s climate policy as the day-to-day running of the policy-making process is left for the NDRC to administer. Only in instances of deadlock do the members of the State Council intervene. Therefore, the State Council is omitted in the analysis below.
158 In the interview, Jørgen Delman does not highlight the MST or the CMA directly. Despite this, I have, nonetheless, chosen to accentuate these government agencies given that both the MST and the CMA due to their level of technical expertise, ceteris paribus
, will be better equipped at influencing the policy-making process thus making these primary policy actors (Bjørkum (2005); Heggelund et. al. (2010); Gang (2012)).
159 When referring implicitly to this interview, the term (Interview
) will be inserted at the end of the sentence.
160 See Section 2.2.1
161 Although some authors argue for the increased relevance of NGOs in China (Saich (2000); Ho & Edmonds (2007); Schröeder (2008); Wu (2009)).
162 Known as the ‘national oil companies’ (NOCs).
163 See http://en.ndrc.gov.cn/mfndrc/default.htm
164 See http://en.ndrc.gov.cn/
165 See http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/wjb/zyzz/
166 Information regarding the educational background of the MST leadership can be accessed from the MST’s website: http://www.most.gov.cn/eng/organization/leadership/
167 However, this is rapidly changing as the younger generations within the CCP and the central administration are well-educated and selected from some of China’s best universities.
168 The strategy paper is available through: http://www.ccchina.gov.cn/WebSite/CCChina/UpFile/File199.pdf
169 S&T: Science and Technology.
170 Central governing agencies within the Chinese central administration can roughly be divided into either ‘administrations’ or ‘ministries’ where the former is hierarchically subordinated to the latter.
171 See http://english.mep.gov.cn/About_SEPA/Mission/200803/t20080318_119444.htm
172 See http://www.cma.gov.cn/en/ClimateChange/ClimateChangeIntroduction/201203/t20120320_166641.html
173 This number is listed on the NDRC’s official website available through the following link: http://en.ndrc.gov.cn/brief/default.htm
174 In the Chinese bureaucracy ministries are formally subordinated to commissions.
175 This is evident from the ’lists of participants’ available from the UNFCCC’s website: http://unfccc.int/2860.php
176 Please refer to the previous analytical sub-section for an elaboration on this point.
177 E.g. 2011 interview with Nature Magazine: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/111020/full/news.2011.604.html
178 In the Chinese bureaucratic system administrations are subordinated to ministries and commissions.
179 In 2006, imports accounted for 49 percent of the China’s total oil consumption and is projected to increase to as much as 80 percent by 2020 (Downs, 2007)
180 Held, et. al. 2011.
181 Mastny, 2010:15.
182 Some critics might argue that the declining trend from 2006 onwards is partially explained by decreasing GDP growth rates due to the impact of the financial crisis; however, Yu (2012) finds no evidence to support this claim. In fact, the main contributing factor has been efficiency gains in the utilisation of different fuels.
183 Or path dependency (Pierson, 2000)
184 Seligsohn et. al. (2009); Mastny (2010)
185 Put simply, our actions today
will inevitably affect the future. Not the (very) near future but rather the long-term future given that the build-up of GHGs in the atmosphere causes a delayed effect, the extent of which, can only be hypothesised.
186 I.e. formal policy actors most often associated with policy-making.
187 See (Stensdal (2012a); Wübbeke (2010); Kassiola and Guo (2010); Schröeder (2008)).
188 Unambitious in the sense of a lack of clear quantitative emission targets.
189 These development objectives are the direct antecedents of President Hu Jintao’s ’scientific development concept’.
190 This quote can be accessed through the following link: http://www.china.org.cn/english/congress/229611.htm
191 This paragraph builds on a summary of the 11th FYP made available by the Chinese government. See: http://english.gov.cn/2006-03/23/content_234832.htm
192 Energy consumption per unit of GDP
193 Carbon emissions per unit of GDP.
194 This paragraph relies on a full English translation of the 12th FYP carried out by the British Chamber of Commerce in China. The translation is available from: http://www.britishchamber.cn/content/chinas-twelfth-five-year-plan-2011-2015-full-english-version
195 EM-DAT data can be downloaded from: http://www.emdat.be/database
196 I.e. natural, technological and complex emergencies.
197 World Bank date can be downloaded from: http://databank.worldbank.org/data/home.aspx
198 Any base year can be chosen. However, for the sake of the present calculations year 2000 was selected since this year represents the mid-point of the time period under consideration.
199 The price index for China in US$ is available for download through the World Bank’s World Development Indicators.
200 Environmental NGOs.
201 National Oil Companies.