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Title: Driving towards more flexibility? : China's environmental and climate policy in the automotive sector
Author: Wachtmeister, Marcus
ISNI:       0000 0004 5356 4168
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This doctoral dissertation examines the mode and efficacy of environmental and climate policy in China’s automotive sector. The ascent of China’s automobile market to the largest worldwide has detrimental effects on the country’s energy security situation, worsens environmental pollution, and increases greenhouse gas emissions. Environmental and climate policy measures to ameliorate these repercussions are the most apt tools available to the Chinese government. The objective of this dissertation is to identify the dominant mode of environmental and climate policies in China’s automotive industry and to assess the efficacy of select policy instruments. It does so by asking whether a uniform national approach to policy instrument adoption can be discerned that reflects China’s institutional and administrative history or whether modal exceptions exist. Secondly, if modal differences exist, to what extent do different instruments confirm the current understanding of the advantages and pitfalls of individual policy instrument types? And finally, how do Chinese instruments compare to those in other ambits in terms of policy mode and instrument efficacy? The literature on policy instruments holds that, due to their alleged efficiency advantages, incentive-based instruments dominate the political agenda of industrialised countries and international organisations (environmental consensus). This favouring of flexible instruments in academic and political circles contrasts with an evident lack of incentive-based instruments in practice and an observed lack of efficiency of some of those instruments actually implemented. Moreover, the policy mode adopted in developing countries and emerging markets has not yet received sufficient academic attention despite significant differences in institutional design, enforcement capacities, resources, and development paths that may imply reason for modal deviation. Applying a blend of qualitative and quantitative social sciences research methods, I add the case of China to the comparative literature and show that command-and-control regulation indeed forms the backbone of environmental and climate policy in China’s automotive industry. At the same time, modal differences exist between national regulation and local/ municipal incentive-based policy as well as in the electric vehicle sector, which shows a trend towards more incentive-based instruments and flexibility mechanisms in conventional regulation. Compared to other ambits, China has established a relatively flexible policy regime, at least for the case of vehicle efficiency standards. For the time being, incentive-based instruments remain comparatively ineffective and flexibility mechanisms in conventional regulation have an erosive effect on instrument stringency.
Supervisor: Wojcik, Dariusz Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Geography ; Asia ; Environment ; Climate systems and policy ; Transport ; fuel economy standards ; electric vehicles ; flexibility mechanisms ; policy instruments