Central-local government relations and China's clean energy transition

Crawford School of Public Policy | Centre for Climate Economics and Policy
Air Pollution in China

Event details


Date & time

Wednesday 25 July 2018


Brindabella Theatre, Level 2, JG Crawford Building 132, Lennox Crossing,ANU


Jonas Nahm


Frank Jotzo

This talk examines prospects for China’s clean energy transition in the context of the current phase of re-centralisation under Xi Jinping. Perspectives on energy and environmental governance in China frequently ascribe blame for China’s environmental problems to sub-national governments’ lax environmental enforcement. Such research implicitly assumes that more central control would lead to better results. I argue that current prospects for centralisation alone are unlikely to improve outcomes in every case, as there are significant areas of overlapping interests and similar patterns of behavior, both positive (enforcement) and negative (shirking), between central and local administrations when it comes to energy and climate policy. I show that despite efforts to strengthen central government control over the clean energy transition, structural incentives for local governments continue to undermine ambitious plans for de-carbonisation.

Speaker bio:

Jonas Nahm is Assistant Professor of Energy, Resources, and Environment at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Jonas studies the political economy of development and industrial upgrading in green industries, the politics of innovation, and the political economy of the energy sector. In addition to China – his primary focus for the exploration of these themes – Jonas’ research draws on cases in Germany and the United States. His current book project Varieties of Innovation: The Creation of Wind and Solar Industries in China, Germany, and the United States examines the mechanisms through which distinct patterns of innovation have emerged in renewable energy sectors in each of these locations. A new research project investigates the politics of greening the auto sector in China, Germany, and the United States.

Before joining the faculty, Jonas was a Postdoctoral Fellow for International and Public Affairs at the Watson Institute at Brown University. He holds a PhD in Political Science from MIT.

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