In recent years, China has assumed an increasingly elevated role in the global fight against climate change. Through a variety of initiatives and accords—including the Paris Agreement in 2016 and a new partnership with California—Chinese leaders have signaled their determination to stand at the helm of global governance on environmental issues. This shift comes even as the country faces a host of serious ecological challenges within its borders, ranging from air and water pollution to deforestation and shrinking rivers. To what extent are China’s domestic environmental priorities linked to its global goals? Have Beijing’s national objectives translated to progress in local jurisdictions? Do China’s experiences through this process hold lessons for other countries and vice versa?
On October 9, the John L. Thornton China Center convened a panel of experts to discuss China’s environmental agenda at the international, national, and subnational levels. In addition to the questions above, experts explored the relationship between growth and sustainability within China. They also examined areas where China and other nations, including the United States, are cooperating to address climate issues through NGOs, think tanks, and regional governments, and where there might be space for expanded partnership. In addition, panelists considered China’s responsibilities for driving global climate action in an era of rising temperatures.
Following the conversation, panelists took questions from the audience.
Lead Economist, Environment and Natural Resources Global Practice - The World Bank
Director of the Future of China Project
Associate Professor of Practice in the Study of Contemporary China - University of Pennsylvania
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