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Where Wai (outer) meets Nei (inner): How China’s international and domestic policy positions reinforce each otherPosted by Michael Davidson and Valerie Karplus on Dec 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Climate change looms large among the many issues on the table at the upcoming meeting of Presidents Xi and Obama in the U.S. next week. Any new developments at that meeting will build on announced domestic efforts to address the issue, starting with a joint declaration in Beijing last November of what would become the main elements of each country’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (or INDC). In its INDC, China has pledged to reverse the increase in its CO2 emissions to peak by 2030 or sooner.