Expert Blog

ChinaFAQs experts react to the latest headlines about China climate and energy issues.

Geoffrey Henderson and Paul Joffe
March 03, 2016

This post originally appeared on WRI’s Insights blog:

In a few days, China will release its 13th Five-Year Plan, a new economic, social and environmental blueprint for the country’s development through 2020.

After years of astronomical growth, China’s economic expansion has begun to slow. But instead of doubling down on the fossil fuel-intensive strategy that helped produce the country’s runaway growth, China’s leaders have stated that the old growth model has run its course, and that the country will build toward a more environmentally and economically sustainable model of development. Recent signs show that the country is already beginning to shift in this direction, and the new Five-Year Plan provides the opportunity to build on that progress.

Angel Hsu, Andrew Moffat and Kaiyang Xu
December 22, 2015

From the Paris Climate Negotiations

COP-21 provided key insights into China’s evolving view on emissions MRV as national leaders committed to continue building monitoring systems and implementing verification protocols, including third-party verification, particularly for its seven regional pilot emissions trading schemes (ETS) and planned national program. In COP-21’s second week, the Chinese delegation hosted a “China MRV System” side event that brought together academics, government officials and policy experts to discuss China’s capacity to monitor and verify carbon emissions.

Ranping Song
December 11, 2015

From the Paris Climate Negotiations

Negotiators from around the world have gathered in Paris to finalize a global climate agreement, which will be supported by the commitments of over 180 countries to domestic climate action included in their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). In September, China’s President Xi Jinping announced that China will launch a national emissions trading scheme (ETS) in 2017 as one of the key policy instruments that China will use to achieve its own commitment to peak carbon emissions around 2030 or earlier. While questions remain about how China will implement a complex market-based mechanism, recent announcements by Chinese officials shed light on promising plans for the policy’s design and implementation.

Deborah Seligsohn
December 11, 2015

From the Paris Climate Negotiations

By now everyone who follows environmental news or looks at the front page of major newspapers knows that in the last two weeks Beijing has suffered through not one but two of these major multi-day air pollution events that have come to be known as air-pocalypses. Having such a spate of bad air in its capital city just as China was advocating for its green agenda in Paris was undoubtedly somewhat embarrassing to Chinese negotiators, but what does it mean beyond that? We’ve seen commentary suggesting everything from “how can we believe Chinese commitments,” to “this will increase Chinese efforts and make the issue more visible to Chinese.” But what really do conventional air pollution and greenhouse gave emissions have to do with one another? Let’s dig in a bit.

Michael Davidson and Valerie Karplus
December 11, 2015

From the Paris Climate Negotiations

National goal-setting—an expected key outcome from the Paris climate talks currently underway—is a common fixture of policy-making in China and many other countries. Collectively, the current pledges still show significant gaps toward meeting long-term climate goals. Nevertheless, they represent an important increase in scope and ambition over those pledged in advance of the 2009 Copenhagen summit, and those established earlier under the Kyoto Protocol. There is great importance in—and a growing consensus around—enhancing these previous rounds of commitments through a pledge-and-review institution, which if designed properly can also mobilize domestic constituencies even across a wide range of political systems. As China and other countries begin to consider their next steps, we explain here the interaction of international and domestic policy-making in setting climate action targets in China.

Deborah Seligsohn
December 07, 2015

From the Paris Climate Negotiations

There is an infectious enthusiasm among the Chinese delegation, both actual negotiators and the many academics the Chinese government brings along to provide advice and deliver a continuous set of information sessions at its pavilion, that contrasts greatly with the nervous defensiveness of earlier years. The Chinese Communist Party declared in October that China should play a greater role in global governance, specifically citing the climate talks as an important venue, and the Chinese in Paris appear to be embracing that role.

Paul Joffe and Geoffrey Henderson
November 30, 2015

While the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (for short, COP21) officially begins on Monday, November 30th in Paris, the groundwork for a successful outcome and future effort has been laid over the past few years. Along with the United States, France and other major economies, China has played an integral role in building momentum toward a global climate agreement. In the past, some have hesitated because one or another country was said not to be taking action, but that is no longer an issue, and Paris points the way forward to the stronger action needed by all countries.

Geoffrey Henderson, Kristin Meek, David Waskow, Athena Ballesteros and Paul Joffe
October 06, 2015

This post originally appeared on WRI’s Insights blog:

Nearly a year ago, the United States and China laid out their national climate action plans for the coming years. These were the first in what is now a substantial list of national climate action plans—plans that will form the basis of a new international climate agreement to be finalized in Paris later this year. Now, the world’s two biggest emitters have taken the next step by cementing their plans, jointly announcing key actions they’ll take to achieve their national goals, and clarifying their views on the upcoming Paris agreement.

Valerie Karplus
September 28, 2015

The latest Obama-Xi announcement sends a strong message: the two nations are acting fast to enable a global low carbon transition. Friday’s joint announcement is an unprecedented step by the world’s #1 and #2 emitters to commit, at the highest levels, to a strong set of domestic policies and to reinforce global mechanisms that will help to engage peers ahead of the upcoming landmark climate change negotiations in Paris.

Deborah Seligsohn
September 25, 2015

The US-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change is a landmark for the bilateral relationship in terms of its specificity and ambition. This is especially true given that many Chinese wonder at the direction of US policy given that none of the Republican candidates in next year’s election support strong climate policy.