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Title: Climate Revolution or long march? : the politics of low carbon transformation in China (1992-2015) : the power sector as case study
Author: Goron, Coraline
ISNI:       0000 0004 7227 9338
Awarding Body: University of Warwick ; Universite´ libre de Bruxelles
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis analyses the role of the Chinese state in overseeing the low-carbon transformation of its economy. It looks more particularly at the changing power dynamics surrounding the production of electric power provoked by the combination of market reforms and the rise of environmental concerns since 1978. The Chinese case is not only relevant for global environmental change, but also because it interrogates the classical understanding of developmental and environmental politics. The thesis explores how, in China, the necessity to address environmental issues has transformed the way in which the state exercises power over the economy, particularly over the electric power system. The research method pursues a historical analysis of the normative and distributive struggles involved in the transformation of the Chinese Party-state institutions in relation to economic development and environmental protection, especially the field of energy. This approach stems from a definition of low-carbon transformations as complex processes of change unfolding over long periods of time, involving not only technological innovations, but also contentious confrontations of interests and ideologies. Consequently, in the thesis, environmental goals, as well as different modes of exercising political power in the economy, such as the developmental state and a regulatory state, are taken as ideational factors in the political battles and practices that construct continuous institutional change, rather than super-structural trends to which China would be submitted. The research traces the parallel institutional transformations induced by China’s market reforms and the concomitant rise of environmental concerns. Subsequently, the impact of these processes on low- carbon development are explored in the case study of renewable energy development and the implementation of administrative pollution targets. The analysis draws on 50 interviews, numerous participatory activities, as well as the systematic collection and analysis of relevant Chinese policy documents. The research finds that the absorption of environmental claims by the ruling Communist Party has validated the resort to authoritarian interventions in the economy, and by the same token has increased resistance to them, undermining the construction of a rule-based state power. The thesis demonstrates that the mobilisation of the Target Responsibility System, -an institution at the heart of command structure of the Party-state in the reform era-, to pursue environmental goals has undermined the power of environmental regulators. The unresolved institutional tension regarding the exercise of state power is shown to have adversely impacted on the implementation of environmental targets, as well as the development of the renewable energy sector.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HD Industries. Land use. Labor