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Politics of Renewable Energy in China

Chen Gang

In this book, Chen Gang examines the real-world effectiveness of China's approach to the promotion of green technologies and practices, and discusses the political landscape in which it is situated.
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Chapter 9: Conclusion: policy priorities reshaped by central–local relationship and interest groups

Chen Gang

Extract

Through examining China’s recent renewable energy development, shaped by the dynamic interactions among various interest groups, central–local relationships, and the central government’s energy policy priorities, this book questions authoritarian environmentalists’ prevailing view of hailing China as a role model in promoting low-carbon energy. China’s prioritization of renewable energy production, originally driven by international climate change pressures and reflecting its mitigation commitment, has, however, been discounted by influences of domestic interest groups and a complicated central–local relationship. The scrutiny of policy priority variation over time also reveals the mercantile features of the central’s renewable power strategy, which, in many cases, are given precedence over the country’s environmental determinations. Pro-development and pro-environment disputes, at both ideological and bureaucratic levels, have led to such policy inconsistency and confusion.

This book, with its focus on the redundant capacity in China’s power generation sectors and supporting industries, to a large degree helps to explain the institutional and ideological factors that have led to China’s widespread overcapacity in most industrial sectors. The discussion in the preceding chapters revealed that China’s state capitalism has an innate tendency of focusing on the ‘supply side’ instead of ‘demand side’ (Kang and Su 2016, p.16), which differs from a market-driven economy. This has resulted in enormous industrial capacity subsidized by the state but detached from real market demand. Under Xi Jinping’s economic ‘new normal’ ideology emphasizing growth shifting to a sub-high gear, economic distortions that were concealed during the high growth period have now surfaced to...

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