Global Warming and East Asia: The Domestic and International Politics of Climate Change

By Paul G. Harris | Go to book overview

3

Chinese politics, energy policy, and the international climate change negotiations

Michael T. Hatch


Introduction

Global warming, and the actions required to meet the potential threats from it, now occupy a prominent position on the political agenda of many nations. Yet, as the negotiations establishing the Framework Convention on Climate Change graphically demonstrate, the political salience of global warming varies. In most of the developing world, for example, the issue hardly makes a ripple on the domestic scene, with such problems as widespread poverty and degradation of air and water resources pressing upon local populations. What has become clear, however, is the necessity of developing-country support if an international agreement is to be effective over the longer term. In the years to come, the bulk of the new greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are expected to come from the developing world as populations continue to grow and industrialization processes that rely on fossil fuels accelerate. China is one of the countries most often mentioned as being central to future international efforts aimed at controlling GHG emissions. This chapter attempts to assess the role of China in international efforts to mitigate climate change.


Domestic politics and international negotiations

Any significant international agreement on global warming will have profound effects on a broad set of interests spanning society and, hence, have important ramifications for the domestic politics of any country. Given the potential impact on important constituencies, global warming negotiations have become a concern of bureaucratic interests as activities coming under their purview become subject to negotiations. One sees, for example, competing claims arising between the departments and agencies responsible for policies on economics, environment, energy and foreign affairs. In the case of China, however, there may be questions about the degree to which such interests can be played out in the domestic arena. The precise nature of the policy process, in other words, may have important implications for the politics of global warming.

Whether implicit or explicit, analyses of Chinese politics make certain assumptions about the exact nature of its policy process. Among the competing models of policymaking found in the literature are the “power,”“policy” and “bureaucratic”

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