APPENDIX B: KEY PLAYERS

Top-level decision-making on Chinese climate policy is coordinated by the National Leading Group on Climate Change, Energy Conservation and Emissions Reduction, chaired by Premier Li Keqiang. Twenty-six ministries and commissions are members. Among the main tasks of the Leading Group are to:

  • “develop major national strategies, policies and countermeasures on climate change,”
  • “study and review international cooperation and negotiation counterproposals;” and
  • “organize the implementation of the policies of the State Council on energy conservation and emissions reduction.”[1]

In July 2019, official Chinese media reported on a meeting of the Leading Group convened by Premier Li Keqiang. All four Vice-Premiers and other top officials attended.[2]

China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) has principal responsibility for climate change policy within the Chinese government. According to MEE’s website, MEE’s mandates include:

“Take the leading role in work related to climate change. Initiate the formulation of key strategies as well as plans and policies tackling climate change and greenhouse gas emissions; Along with other governmental departments, participate in international negotiations on climate change; Carry out China’s role in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.”[3]

MEE received these responsibilities as part of a government reorganization in March 2018. Before that, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) had taken the lead on climate change within the Chinese government for many years.[4]

NDRC has substantial continuing influence on climate change policy. That influence comes in part from NDRC’s broad authority over economic development, including over planning processes and project approvals. It comes in part from the National Energy Administration (NEA), which plays a central role in many Chinese energy policies and sits within NDRC. It comes from officials and supporting staff with climate change experience who remain at NDRC as well.[5]

Other parts of the Chinese government that play important roles in policies related to climate change include the:

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), which helps shape China’s climate change diplomacy;
  • Ministry of Finance, which administers taxes and tax incentives relevant to climate policy;
  • Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), which provides billions of RMB for research and development on clean energy technologies;
  • Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which sets vehicles fuel efficiency standards and develops industrial policies more broadly;
  • the Ministry of Housing and Rural and Urban Development (MOHURD), which helps administer green cities and other low-carbon pilot programs; and
  • the International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA), established in April 2018, which administers foreign aid and development assistance.[6]

Many quasi-governmental institutions and universities provide research and analytic support that informs the development of Chinese climate change policy. They include the:

  • National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation (NCSC), which provides considerable analytic and modeling capabilities on all aspects of climate policy;
  • Energy Research Institute (ERI), which provides considerable expertise on all aspects of energy policy;
  • Development Research Center (DRC), which supports the State Council with research on carbon markets, urbanization, innovation and many other topics related to climate policy;
  • Chinese academies (including the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering), which have deep expertise on topics related to climate science and clean energy technologies; and
  • leading Chinese universities (including Tsinghua, Peking and Renmin), with professors in many disciplines playing important roles in advising government leaders.[7]

Chinese state-owned enterprises play an important role in shaping China’s climate policies. Among those most directly affected by Chinese climate policies are the major power companies, electric utilities, oil and gas companies, and coal companies. CEOs of these companies generally have rank equivalent to that of ministers within the Chinese government.[8]

Chinese provinces play a key role in the implementation of climate policies. Under China’s “target responsibility system,” many of the central government’s key climate and energy targets are allocated to individual provinces, with provincial leaders responsible for fulfilling them. Each province has its own Leading Group on Climate Change, chaired by top provincial leaders.[9]

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References

[1] People’s Republic of China, Third National Communication on Climate Change (December 2018) at pp.25–26; People’s Republic of China, Second Biennial Update Report on Climate Change (December 2018) at pp.5–6.

[2] “Li Keqiang presided over the National Leading Group Meeting on Climate Change, Energy Conservation and Emissions Reduction,” Chinese Government Network (July 11, 2019); “China to continue efforts to tackle climate change: Premier Li,” Xinhua (July 12, 2019).

[3] Ministry of Ecology and Environment website-Mandates at #10 (accessed August 25, 2019).

[4] “China expected to play bigger role in tackling climate change,” Xinhuanet (May 27, 2018); Yang Wanli, “New ecological environment ministry is a milestone,” China Daily (March 17, 2018); Jackson Ewing, “Tough Tasks for China’s New Environment Ministry,” The Diplomat (March 17, 2018).

[5] See NDRC website; Craig Hart, Zhu Jiayan and Ying Jiahui, Mapping China’s Climate and Energy Policies (December 2018) at pp.16–17.

[6] See Kelly Sims Gallagher and Xioawei Xuan, Titans of the Climate, MIT Press (2018) at pp.96–97; Craig Hart, Zhu Jiayan and Ying Jiahui, Mapping China’s Climate and Energy Policies (December 2018) pp. 8–11; Wang Binbin, “After China’s ministerial shake-up, what’s next for South-South climate cooperation?,” China Dialogue (June 19, 2018).

[7] See Craig Hart, Zhu Jiayan and Ying Jiahui, Mapping China’s Climate and Energy Policies (December 2018) at pp.23–26; Lisa Williams, “China’s Climate Change Policies: Actor and Drivers,” Lowy Institute (July 2014); Ye Qi and Tong Wu, “The Politics of Climate Change in China,” WIREs Climate Change (June 2013) at p.305.

[8] See Craig Hart, Zhu Jiayan and Ying Jiahui, Mapping China’s Climate and Energy Policies (December 2018) at pp.27–34; Kelly Sims Gallagher and Xioawei Xuan, Titans of the Climate, MIT Press (2018) at p.77.

[9] People’s Republic of China, Third National Communication on Climate Change (December 2018) at p.26.

[10] People’s Republic of China, Third National Communication on Climate Change (December 2018) at p.26.

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