Environmental Regulation in Cities and Other Localities
The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Edited by Benjamin J. Richardson
Chapter 11: Climate Governance in China: Using the ‘Iron Hand’
Jolene Lin* Premier Wen Jiabao on Wednesday vowed to realize the country’s green goal to cut energy intensity by 20 percent between 2006 and 2010. In a nationwide video and teleconference, Wen told governments at all levels to work with an ‘iron hand’ to eliminate inefficient enterprises.1 This chapter analyses the Chinese climate governance landscape that has emerged over the past decade, focusing on the role of local governments. The central argument is that climate governance in China is predominantly topdown and highly bureaucratic in nature. Local initiatives to address climate change have tended to be responses to policy directions and performance targets imposed from the central government in Beijing. However, there is an interesting transnational dynamic to local climate governance in China, as many local governments have embraced the financial opportunities afforded by the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Alongside environmental aid projects funded by multilateral agencies and private foundations, there is considerable climate mitigation activity at the local level because of the CDM. Part 1 is a brief primer on China’s recent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions patterns and the central government’s climate change policy. Part 2 examines the role played by local authorities in addressing climate change in China. They have acted on climate change mainly in response to policy directions issued by the central government. While there is considerable leeway for policy innovation at the local level, there are few, if any, incentives for local officials to address climate change; however, the central government has sought...
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