Strauss Center Distinguished Scholar Joshua Busby wrote the report “China and Climate Change: A Strategy for U.S. Engagement” for the Center for Climate and Electricity Policy (CCEP) at Resources for the Future, a think tank for energy, environmental, and natural resources issues.
Strauss Center Distinguished Scholar Joshua Busby wrote the report “China and Climate Change: A Strategy for U.S. Engagement” for the Center for Climate and Electricity Policy (CCEP) at Resources for the Future, a think tank for energy, environmental, and natural resources issues. The center supports and researches domestic and international climate policy strategies and analyzes future policy needs. In this report, Busby advances a strategy for U.S. engagement of China on the issue of climate change. He makes use primarily of strategic foreign policy and political analyses geared towards U.S. policymakers. Busby outlines China’s current emissions levels and energy use as well as which climate change and energy conservation policies China has recently implemented. He predicts what trajectories these climate change indicators may follow under various policies, with a particular focus on how China will achieve the goals set out by its 11th Five Year Plan. Following his overview and analysis of the current situation and his projections of future developments in China’s climate and energy policies, Busby proposes a strategy for U.S.-China foreign policy on climate change.
With climate change increasingly taking on a more prominent role in international policy discussions, Busby notes that there is a disparity between China’s serious stance on climate change and its at times deficient action to reduce emissions levels and energy use, particularly when this conflicts with sustaining high rates of economic growth. However, China has made a significant amount of progress in implementing energy-efficiency targets over the past several years, reports Busby, and Chinese policymakers will be more inclined to continue reaching higher targets if the U.S. passes domestic climate legislation.
The report’s central argument focuses on the idea that the U.S. can encourage other countries to enact extensive climate and energy policies by signaling its commitment to the issue of climate change through domestic reforms. Busby presents a list of policy prescriptions on climate change for the Obama administration, including following through on international climate agreements, passing domestic climate legislation, finding the right venues to work with China on the issue, and establishing a policy environment in both the U.S. and China that encourages private actors to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Busby stresses the importance of domestic climate legislation, which he concludes will be instrumental in signaling to China and other countries its commitment to global progress on climate change.