Date 2014-04-30
Time 13:00 - 14:15
Tel 29486632
Venue Room B2-LP-22, Lower Podium Floor, Block B2, HKIEd Tai Po Campus


Centre for Governance and Citizenship (CGC) Seminar Series



Multi-level Climate Change Governance in China


Dr Zhao Jimin

Associate Professor

Division of Social Science

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology


Date:      30 April 2014 (Wednesday)

Time:      1pm to 2:15pm

Venue:    Room B2-LP-22,

Lower Podium Floor, Block B2

HKIEd Tai Po Campus   



The climate change negotiations have become mired down because of the difficulties of getting 194 countries to agree to a post-Kyoto climate agreement. As the largest producer of GHG in the world and as a developing country with 120 million people in poverty, there is great urgency to better understand China’s ability to successfully address climate change in order to engage China effectively in the global climate change regime and support China’s sustainable development. In this paper I use a multi-level governance framework to study how Chinese climate change governance has evolved and assess the capacity of China’s climate change governance system. Administrative structures and policy-making processes turn out to be very complex, with a range of units and bodies at different levels with distinct responsibilities as well as inter-linkages. This study investigates the roles and interplays of national government, local governments, businesses, and NGOs, as well as their interactions with each other; evaluates the effectiveness of current governance and policies to achieve carbon reductions; and identifies key factors that determine the carbon actions taken by these actors.  It also examines how climate change governance and policies interact with other environmental and energy policies, and suggests institutional and policy changes that will strengthen China’s capacity to address climate change, drawing implications for how a post-2012 climate regime can effectively engage China. Any actions that can address climate change successfully have to incorporate with local economic growth and environmental improvement initiatives while the top-down governance provides limited incentives and pressure on local government in this regard. Trigger events (e.g., the Beijing Olympic Games, serious air pollution in Beijing) can provide a catalyst for efforts to address climate change. Environmental NGOs and the media are increasingly involved in climate change actions, working in partnership with the national government.


Dr Jimin Zhao is Associate Professor of Social Science at HKUST. Previously she was a Senior Research Fellow and Director of the China Environment and Energy Programme at Oxford University (2007–2011). She has also worked at the University of Michigan, Harvard University, and China’s Academy of Environmental Sciences. She received her Ph.D. in environmental policy at Stanford University, and her M.S. in environmental planning and management and B.S. degree from Peking University. Her research interests include environmental and energy policy and governance, climate change and global environmental governance, sustainable transportation and building, energy policy and technology development, and Chinese environmental and energy policy.

Her numerous research grants include Low-Carbon Transport Futures in Hong Kong and Shenzhen (HK$784,776, RGC Public Policy Research, 2012-2014); “Energy Efficiency for China’s Buildings” (£200,000 from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 2010-2012), and “Visioning and Backcasting for Transport Futures in Chinese Cities” (£49,625 from Oxford University’s Future City Programme, 2010-2011), and Moving to a low-carbon economy under different economic circumstances (£356,868, Foreign& Commonwealth Office’s Strategic Programme Fund, 2009-2012). Recent publications include a chapter in Climate Smart Development in Asia: Transition to Low Carbon and Climate Resilient Economies, “Engaging China in a Post-2012 Climate Regime,” “Climate Change Mitigation in Beijing,” and “Visioning and Backcasting for Transport in Jinan”.
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