Paper - Harvard Project on Climate Agreements

Bilateral Cooperation between China and the United States: Facilitating Progress on Climate-Change Policy

| February 2016


The Harvard Project has released a paper on China-U.S. cooperation on climate-change policy—jointly authored with researchers at China's National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation (NCSC). Cooperation between the two countries is very important, as they are the world's two largest emitters of greenhouse gases. Joint announcements on climate-change policy by the countries' leaders—in November 2014 and September 2015—facilitated progress toward completing a major new international climate-change agreement in Paris in December 2015.

The paper is based in part on the proceedings of joint workshop hosted by NCSC in Beijing in June 2015. (A report on the workshop, with links to most presentations, is here.)

The paper focuses on three fields of potential cooperation:

  1. The design and implementation of emissions-trading systems (ETSs). Sub-national ETSs are operating in California and the northeastern United States. China is operating pilot emissions-trading programs in seven provinces and cities and intends to launch a nation-wide ETS in 2017.

  2. Standards and procedures for accounting for emissions and for measuring progress in achieving Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) associated with the Paris Agreement. Such standards and procedures could help advance the effectiveness and equity of the Paris Agreement as it is elaborated—by making possible more accurate comparisons of mitigation effort. They could also promote the use of domestic market mechanisms and the crediting of these toward NDCs, as well as linkage among ETSs and among heterogeneous policy systems.

  3. The intersection of trade and climate policy—how China-U.S. trade might be affected by domestic policies and international agreements (bilateral and multilateral) to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and how China and the United States can collaborate to magnify possible trade benefits and reduce possible trade risks of the movement toward low-carbon societies.
For more information on this publication: Please contact Harvard Project on Climate Agreements
For Academic Citation: Aldy, Joseph, Thomas Brewer, CHEN Ji, FU Sha, QI Yue, Robert Stavins, Robert Stowe, WANG Pu, ZHANG Xiaohua, ZHENG Shuang, and ZOU Ji.. “Bilateral Cooperation between China and the United States: Facilitating Progress on Climate-Change Policy.” Paper, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, February 2016.

The Authors

Robert N. Stavins