30 March 2017
Despite ups and downs in climate diplomacy, China has been consistent in reforming energy related sectors and implementing climate-related policies at home in the past two decades. This explains why China shows no hesitation in moving along with the Paris Agreement regardless of US participation. As the tides of nationalism and political conservatism rise in the West, the world may turn to other centres for leadership and inspiration. In fact, the Paris Agreement was reached without American leadership, or any particular form of unilateral diplomatic championship.
Under Xi Jinping, China has made no secret that it aspires to bigger roles on the global stage, including taking on leadership in global governance and multilateral cooperation. Xi’s recent speech at Davos World Economic Forum, though a little ironic, came as a timely boost for international trade and economic cooperation.
In the case of climate change, should China become the next champion, this is not only because it seeks international status, but there is also concrete convergence of domestic interests and international commitments. Decades of participation in the global debate on climate change and in domestic research and innovation have convinced Chinese policymakers the long-term value of green energy, energy efficiency and afforestation, and international climate cooperation.
… Wu Fengshi is an Associate Professor at the China Programme of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She specialises in environmental politics, social forces in world politics and Chinese politics.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 30/03/2017