The Domestic Politics of Global Climate Change

The Domestic Politics of Global Climate Change

Key Actors in International Climate Cooperation

New Horizons in Environmental Politics series

Edited by Guri Bang, Arild Underdal and Steinar Andresen

Why are some countries more willing and able than others to engage in climate change mitigation? The Domestic Politics of Global Climate Change compiles insights from experts in comparative politics and international relations to describe and explain climate policy trajectories of seven key actors: Brazil, China, the European Union, India, Japan, Russia, and the United States. Using a common conceptual framework, the authors find that ambitious climate policy change is limited by stable material parameters and that governmental supply of mitigation policies meet (or even exceed) societal demand in most cases. Given the important roles that the seven actors play in addressing global climate change, the book’s in-depth comparative analysis will help readers assess the prospects for a new and more effective international climate agreement for 2020 and beyond.

Chapter 3: China: every day is a winding road

Iselin Stensdal

Subjects: environment, climate change, environmental politics and policy, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, international politics


China is the world’s largest CO2 emitter, due to an unparalleled economic development since the 1980s. GHG mitigation and energy policies are becoming more ambitious. The main low-carbon measures are reshuffling the economy and energy mix, as well as improving China’s energy and carbon intensities. The mitigation policies are mainly top-down driven: the central government supplies local governments with measures to execute. Beneath the central government level, ministries and local governments advocate for their own interests, in the context set up to emphasize energy saving and emissions reduction as national priorities. Researchers at select institutions and ENGOs display supportive demand for mitigation policies. Recently the public’s awareness of and online Weibo-expressed dissatisfaction with air pollution and PM2.5 has spurred a swift supply of air pollution mitigation policies. Most of these measures will also reduce GHG emissions; mitigation occurs as a co-benefit of air pollution mitigation. For the central government the challenge is to make economic development and environmental protection feasibly compatible.

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