Actors, implementation and implications of China’s climate-related energy policies: analyses of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and the Energy Conservation and Emission Reduction Scheme (ECERS)

Author: Maggie Lin

Lin, Maggie, 2018 Actors, implementation and implications of China’s climate-related energy policies: analyses of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and the Energy Conservation and Emission Reduction Scheme (ECERS), Flinders University, College of Business, Government and Law

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China faces great challenges in climate change mitigation and energy security due to a coal dominated energy structure, a large population and an energy and resources intensive economic structure. In order to address climate change and energy issues simultaneously, relevant Chinese actors have worked to develop a range of policies and programs. China actively participated in the international climate change mitigation program, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), and has become the world’s biggest CDM hosting country. China also launched the domestic Energy Conservation and Emission Reduction Scheme (ECERS) since the beginning of the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006). ECERS is the largest scale climate-related national policy ever carried out in China, and has accomplished 19.06% energy intensity reduction during the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010), and a further 20% reduction during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015).

This thesis analyses the actors involved in and the implementation of these two parallel policies during the 11th and 12th Five-Year Plan (2006-2015) period. It explores the roles of the actors, their impact on policy formation, and their feedback on policy implementation. By doing so, the strengths and weaknesses of the two policies can be unearthed and implications for addressing the identified deficiencies can be drawn out. The thesis first sets out the background, research questions, theoretical framework and methodology used for this study. It then analyses the roles and relationships between relevant actors, i.e. central ministries, provincial governments, think tanks, enterprises and civil society, and identifies what has affected their cooperation. The thesis then turns to the specifics of CDM, arguing that it has benefited China in terms of facilitating sustainable development, promoting renewable energy and improving climate awareness but also has a number of potential problems, such as reduction of low-cost abatement options and additionality and integrity issues. An analysis of ECERS in the energy sector follows. Specifically, this thesis analyses multiple aspects of this policy in the energy production sector, including the closure of small coal-fired power plants and their replacement with large efficient ones, the development of renewable energies and the obstacles it faces, and the wastage of wind and solar power in China’s northern provinces. It also covers a relatively new market mechanism in China from the energy consumers’ perspective, Energy Performance Contracting (EPC), by exploring its development, effectiveness and challenges. Throughout the thesis, a wide range of sources have been used including interviews with relevant actors, media reports and discussions in public online forums. These invaluable insights into the details of the policies are often untraceable from the official documents, which therefore give us a fuller and richer picture of them. Finally the thesis draws out implications to address the weaknesses it identified, with the aim of providing innovations and alternative approaches to improve current policies.

Keywords: China's energy policy, climate change policy, Chinese environmental governance,

Subject: Policy and Administration thesis, Environmental management thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2018
School: College of Business, Government and Law
Supervisor: Cassandra Star