Ambition into Action: An Examination of China’s Climate Governance
Created on:2023-06-29 22:29 PV:315
By ZHAO Yuhong | Article | 15 Tsinghua China L. Rev. (2023)   |   Download Full Article PDF


The Paris climate regime aims to control the increase of global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels while aspiring for 1.5°C by requiring all Parties to submit progressively ambitious pledges known as “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs). It depends on domestic implementations and the climate governance capacity of each Party to keep the Paris goals within reach. This article focuses on China, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter and the second largest economy. By reviewing its participation in the Paris regime and examining its NDCs in context, the article illuminates China’s unprecedented political will to participate and lead in the construction of the international climate regime, and critically assesses the policy-oriented domestic climate governance that is led by a government primarily taking a top-down command-and-control approach. It argues that China is in urgent need to strengthen its regulatory and legislative infrastructure to facilitate the fair and transparent operation of the carbon market and climate litigation. It is the meaningful participation by non-government sectors and all members of the society that will jointly deliver China’s NDCs and ensure a smooth and efficient low-carbon transition.