Creating China’s Climate Change Policy
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Creating China’s Climate Change Policy

Internal Competition and External Diplomacy

Olivia Gippner

Drawing on first hand interview data with experts and government officials, Olivia Gippner develops a new analytical framework to explore the vested interests and policy debates surrounding Chinese climate policy-making.
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Chapter 5: Case study 1: 2°C temperature target

Olivia Gippner


Limiting average global warming to 2°C when compared with pre-industrial levels has become the guiding principle of the post-Copenhagen climate change discourse at the UNFCCC. In 2009 the Copenhagen Accord contained an explicit reference to the 2°C target. Staunch opponents of any kind of target have changed their positions and have come to support that goal. Even if the success or failure of the Copenhagen Summit – and whom to blame – have been debated, the event set the tone for a global agreement on the 2°C target, including the support of China during COP21. This chapter addresses the question of why China agreed to set a 2°C target at the Copenhagen Conference in 2009 and what particular role the European Union, an early advocate of the target, played in achieving this. The United States was notably absent in the debate, in particular since it took place prior to the US rejuvenation in international climate politics in 2014. The chapter shows that the acceptance of the 2°C target can be credited to the interplay of Chinese domestic decision-making structures, particularly China’s Meteorological Administration, and international policy promotion by the European Union. The European Union acted as an agenda-setter globally as well as in its bilateral relations with China.

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