China and climate change – Spin, facts and realpolitik

Wen Jiajun

Your Present Location :Home > 站外专栏(英文) > Wen Jiajun

China and climate change – Spin, facts and realpolitik


By Dale Jiajun Wen    September 2012


With its growing economy, China is becoming increasingly important on the international scene. The issue of climate change is no exception. Many Western colleagues have said that nowadays it is almost impossible to have a discussion about climate change without someone referring to China. Yet there is plenty of misinformation and spin about China‘s actions and positions on climate change, which are often counter-productive; and the dynamics at play within China are largely unknown to outsiders. It is crucial to engage with China in a more constructive way. This article attempts to debunk some common misinformation and spin by examining facts about China’s existing actions and posi-tions. It also analyses China’s internal politics and its interaction with international climate politics.

China is serious about climate change

– how about the West?


`How serious is Europe about climate change? We are having black-outs in some places in order to make the energy conservation targets. Are any European countries taking comparable measures in order to reach their Kyoto targets?’ When I talked with a senior energy offcial from China during the summer of 2009, this was the question he asked me. He did not ask about the USA, because as climate insiders, we both knew that even under the best circumstances, it would take years for the United States to catch up and undertake comparable efforts. So he only asked about Europe, the supposed climate leader in the world.

To be honest, his question jolted me. From an environmental point of view, I had always argued that China was not doing enough to address its vast ecological challenges including climate change (Wen, 2009), a point I will elaborate further.Yet I had to concede to him that China is already doing a lot. If we use the West as the benchmark, there are few grounds for asking China to do more.


The author is a visiting fellow of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China.


Download the file