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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Strategic localization : China's climate governance (2007-2016) Wang, Juan


As the world’s largest GHG emitter, China’s climate governance no doubt matters for the future of global climate governance. Since 2007, China has improved its domestic climate governance through progressive policy measures and institutional building, at both national and local levels. In recent years, China has also been proactive in the multilateral and bilateral climate negotiations. Under the UNFCCC framework, China’s contribution to the success of 2015 Paris Agreement negotiation is undeniable. Prior to the 2016 G20 Hangzhou summit, China announced its ratification of the Paris agreement and further placed more focus on climate issues in Hangzhou summit. Bilaterally, the China-US Joint Presidential Statement on Climate Change in 2014 and 2015 showcases China’s political commitment to address climate change. Acknowledging China’s active climate actions, my research question asks: how do we explain China’s progressive climate governance in recent years? What are the driving forces behind China’s climate actions? The theory of norm localization proposed by Dr. Amitav Acharya stresses the agency role of local actors in norm diffusion, which opens research space for investigating the causal relationships between China’s domestic political economy and its progressive climate actions in recent years. This thesis argues that, China’s progressive climate governance can be explained by its strategic localization of climate change based on its need of energy security and economic transition. China has strategically utilized climate change as a normative platform to facilitate and legitimize its comprehensive transformation into low-carbon economy. In this process, the central governmental agencies play a dominant role in framing and merging climate governance with China’s new development agendas. Overall, behind the Chinese philosophy, climate governance is what China should do, but China takes actions in a strategic way to align with its national interests, politically and economically.

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