News - Harvard Project on Climate Agreements

Harvard Project Conducts Research Workshop in Beijing

| Aug. 01, 2019

The Harvard Project on Climate Agreements conducted a research workshop on July 18–19, 2019 titled “Subnational Climate Change Policy in China.” Tsinghua University’s Institute of Energy, Environment, and Economy — directed by Professor Zhang Xiliang — hosted and co-sponsored the workshop. The Harvard Global Institute provided major support for the project.

Links to the agenda, list of participants, and most workshop presentations are at the bottom of this page.

Twenty-five experts from China, Europe, Canada, India, and Australia participated, in addition to Robert Stavins and Robert Stowe, Director and Co-Director of the Harvard Project. Chinese participants included researchers from Wuhan University in Hubei Province, Fudan University in Shanghai, Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou (Guangdong Province), as well as Beijing-based researchers at Tsinghua University, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and other institutes. Among the participants were He Jiankun, Deputy Director of the National Experts Committee of Climate Change — and Professor and Director of the Low Carbon Economy Laboratory at Tsinghua University; and Jiang Zhaoli, Deputy Director General of the Climate Change Department in the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.

Nine students observed the workshop, including an undergraduate at Harvard College and a former Harvard visiting undergraduate student who will matriculate at Harvard Kennedy School in fall 2020. The Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF’s) China Program hosted a dinner for workshop participants, among whom were several EDF-based experts.

Climate change is a global commons problem and, as such, requires cooperation at the highest jurisdictional level — that is, international cooperation among national governments — if it is to be adequately addressed. However, national governments acting independently, as well as subnational governments, can also significantly advance efforts to mitigate climate change. Provinces and municipalities around the world have undertaken initiatives — sometimes working together across national boundaries — to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. These includes jurisdictions in the largest-emitting countries — China, the United States, and India — as well as in the European Union.

Participants in the Beijing workshop examined how Chinese provinces and municipalities work with the central government to implement policy — and discussed challenges to such cooperation. They focused to a considerable degree on the implementation of China’s national carbon-pricing system, including approaches to integrating seven pilot subnational market-based systems into the new national scheme. Participants also addressed subnational dimensions of other policy approaches to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions in China.

Following the workshop, participants wrote briefs on topics related to subnational climate-change policy in China. The Harvard Project edited and compiled these short papers in a volume available here.

Michael Davidson wrote an extensive background paper for the workshop, which was released somewhat later — in both Chinese and English — as a Harvard-Project discussion paper. The paper may be downloaded here. Davidson is on the faculty of the School of Global Policy and Strategy, University of California, San Diego.

The Beijing workshop is part of a larger initiative of the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, supported by the Harvard Global Institute, examining and comparing subnational climate-change policy in China and India. The Harvard Project conducted a parallel workshop — in this case online — on subnational climate-change policy in India on December 8 – 9, 2021. Details are here.

The Harvard Project has previously conducted three workshops addressing climate-change policy in — or related to — China: 

  • June 2015: “Bilateral Cooperation between China and the United States: Facilitating Progress on Climate-Change Policy”; host: National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation (NCSC). Read more about this workshop here. Read the workshop report here.
  • December 2016: “The design, implementation, and operation of China’s national emissions trading system”; host: NCSC. The approximately twenty participants explored technical issues related to the design of China’s emerging national system, including allowance allocation, point of regulation, and price management.
  • September 2017: “Cooperation in East Asia to address climate change.” Hosted by Harvard Center Shanghai and supported by the Harvard Global Institute. Read more about this workshop here. Read the volume of briefs based on the workshop here.

Following are links to materials for the July 18–19, 2019 workshop on subnational climate-change policy in China:

For more information on this publication: Please contact Harvard Project on Climate Agreements
For Academic Citation: Stowe, Robert C. “Harvard Project Conducts Research Workshop in Beijing.” News, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, August 1, 2019.

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