News - Harvard Project on Climate Agreements

Harvard Project Releases New Paper on Creating Subnational Climate Institutions in China

| Dec. 18, 2019

China’s party-state consists of multiple nested hierarchies of bureaucrats and officials accountable to a common leadership, yet it also gives substantial autonomy to lower levels of government in pursuing various objectives. By some fiscal measures, China is the most decentralized country in the world. As such, China’s particular flavor of “quasi-federal” control, as well as its integration of party and state, will heavily influence and constrain options for controlling greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions in the economy. This paper describes the evolution of decentralization over the reform period that began in China in 1978, different theories of institutional change in China, and how the empirical and theoretical literatures help us understand the development of institutions for governing GHG-emitting activities.

Michael Davidson prepared this paper as part of a larger project that the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements is conducting, with support of the Harvard Global Institute, on subnational climate-change policy in China and India. The Harvard Project conducted a research workshop on this topic in July 2019, in collaboration with Tsinghua University’s Institute of Energy, Environment, and Economy — and will conduct a parallel workshop in New Delhi in mid-2020.

While writing this paper, Professor Davidson was a postdoctoral research fellow with the Environment and Natural Resources Program (ENRP), in Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. The Harvard Project is grateful to ENRP and the Belfer Center for their support of Professor Davidson.

The full paper may be downloaded here.

For more information on this publication: Please contact Harvard Project on Climate Agreements
For Academic Citation: Stowe, Robert C. “Harvard Project Releases New Paper on Creating Subnational Climate Institutions in China.” News, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, December 18, 2019.

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