by Dr Han Lin
I’m delighted to share with you my new book, Energy Policies and Climate Change in China: Actors, Implementation, and Future Prospects, which is out this month with Routledge.
China’s energy policies and climate change governance caught my attention during the early 2010s. It was an era when China had its fastest expansion in renewable energy and actively participated in the international emission mitigation program, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). It was also an era in which China completed its first five-year Energy Conservation and Emission Reduction Scheme (ECERS), with thousands of small coal-fired power plants shutdown. However, at the same time, China suffered from the most severe air pollution ever. How could this happen?! Aren’t renewable energy and energy efficiency improvement supposed to reduce emissions and pollution? I had to find out the answer!!! So it became my PhD research topic and led to the eventual result, this book, in Routledge’s Energy Policy Series.
During my field trip. I was amazed by the scale of China’s renewable energy development. At the same time, I was astonished how much renewable energy was wasted. It was a sad thing to see wind farms closed with turbines standing still like an army of petrified warriors, quiet and lifeless, staring empty at the passing gales. I talked to a range of stakeholders in China’s energy and climate change sectors, such as relevant policy makers and researchers in the National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Environmental Protection (Now Ministry of Ecology and Environment) and Ministry of Transportation; managers of small coal and renewable energy companies, personnel from ENGOs and scholars and academics. They were all aware of the status of China’s energy and climate change governance, and expressed their concerns from different perspectives. It was not that the Chinese government, industries and general public unwilling to address the air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions problem, but there were just too many obstacles to achieve a positive outcome in reality.
I found the weakness of China’s energy and climate change governance lies in the fragmentation within the government, irrational planning, corrupted local politics and individual officials’ unlawful conduct. Neither scale nor speed will address these. We have focus to on the integrity and efficiency instead. But how?
I proposed recommendations to the issues raised by the stakeholders, such as how to reduce wastage of renewable energy, how to better utilize market mechanisms in energy conservation and emissions reduction, how to reduce corruption in the energy sector, how to make the government work more efficiently and effectively, and how to improve coal power plant laid-off workers’ re-employability and welfare.
I hope these recommendations are of practical value for the Chinese government and people. Time goes fast and the climate clock is ticking. We have far gone passed the discussion of who should be responsible for climate change mitigation. Instead, we should focus on assisting all countries, especially the developing ones, to optimise their energy and climate change policies, and bring true benefit to them and global climate stability.