From Foot-Draggers to Strategic Counter-Partners: The Dynamics of U.S. and Chinese Policies for Tackling Climate Change

Discussion Papers


by CHENG Fang-Ting

September 2014


As can been seen from the U.S.’s non-ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, together with the negotiations toward the post-Kyoto Protocol framework, the U.S. and China have been quarrelling over their responsibilities and have contradicted one another over the introduction of compulsory domestic greenhouse gases emission reduction targets. Therefore, for a long time, it has been argued that the controversy between the two countries has hindered the process of forging an international agreement to deal with climate change. On the other hand, Sino-U.S. bilateral cooperation on climate change has significantly increased in recent years in summit talks and their Strategic & Economic Dialogue (S&ED), especially after the 15th Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Copenhagen, one of whose aims was to facilitate positive negotiations for the post-Kyoto Protocol agreement. Analyzing this in the light of recent developments, we find that the U.S. and China have tended to address climate change and related issues from a pluralistic viewpoint and approach, by regarding the achievement of bilateral cooperation and global agreements as their common strategic objective.

Keywords: Climate change, mitigation, adaptation, Copenhagen Accord, Cancun Agreement, UNFCCC, Sino-U.S. relationship, U.S.-China Strategic & Economic Dialogue (S&ED)
JEL classification: K32, O13, O19

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