A social evolutionary perspective on understanding Chinese climate policy: state elites, ideas and national interests

Du, Sen (2014). A social evolutionary perspective on understanding Chinese climate policy: state elites, ideas and national interests. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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China has been the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the absolute terms since 2008. Yet the pivotal drivers and key factors in its climate policymaking are still much under‐researched. In particular, little attention has been given to developing theoretical models to account for and to explain the evolution of Chinese climate change policy. This study directly addresses this gap in the climate change literature. Firstly, the study identifies the key domestic drivers and factors in Chinese climate policies using social evolution theory, which incorporates facets of institutionalism and elite theory in order to explain the evolution of Chinese climate change policy by direct reference to its highly dynamic socio‐economic circumstances. Secondly, this study uses these social evolutionary insights to inform interviews with 11 key climate policymakers situated at the highest levels within the Chinese Communist Party and the climate policymaking organisations. Respondents’ verbatim comments are analysed using NVivo software to critically assess the validity of social evolutionary analysis conducted in the first part of the thesis. Not only does this provide a vital means of empirical confirmation, it also directly contributes to the very scarce body of academic work on Chinese political elite interviewing. Thirdly, the analysis builds on this domestic level analysis to examine the extent to which social evolutionary theory might be used to understand and explain Chinese climate policies. Implications are discussed to inform future domestic and international climate policymaking and global cooperation on addressing climate change.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/5176


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