Energy policy design and China’s local climate governance – energy efficiency and renewable energy policies in Hangzhou
The talk is based on a study that probes into climate policy design at city level in China, with Hangzhou’s energy efficiency and renewable energy policies between 2005 and 2014 as a case. The study applies a political action arena approach to accentuate the importance of different normative preferences behind climate change policies in relation to Hangzhou’s emerging urban climate governance regime. Three main categories of policy instruments are identified: i.e., command-and-control, market-based, and collaborative governance instruments, and their development over time is examined. It is concluded that in Hangzhou energy efficiency is a more mature and comprehensive political action arena than renewable energy. The study also finds that there has been a significant shift away from preferences towards command-and-control to more market-based instruments, while cooperative governance instruments are still in their infancy. It finally shows that the design and implementation of local programs, especially the selection of policy instruments, are strongly influenced by the normative preferences of local officials.
Engaging in pro-environmental behaviour in urban China: Sense of community and missed opportunities
Urban areas in China require residents to play an increasingly active role in reducing their individual and collective carbon footprint through the implementation of environmental policies that impact daily life. It is relevant to understand how these policies are implemented and the response towards the policies from the perspective of the residents and community management units.
Based on empirical research (interviews and observation) in three gated residential communities in Shanghai this presentation illuminates the role of community and a sense of community in developing the pro-environmental behaviour of waste sorting at the household level. Drawing from my initial analysis I identify common themes, opportunities for improvement and missed opportunities.
Mette Halskov Hansen
Does Air Pollution Reinforce Social Inequality? Views from the Chinese Countryside
1,6 million people die prematurely every year in China due to air pollution. The government monitors air quality in more than 300 cities and the urban middle class purchase air purifiers and keep their children inside on the worst days. But how do Chinese villagers and rural migrant workers cope with air pollution from local industry and household burning of solid fuel? What interests are at stake when the desire for economic development faces the risks of air pollution? Mette Halskov Hansen is currently directing a research project, Airborne, involving chemists, anthropologist, political scientists, media scholars and sinologists. Her presentation is based on recent joint fieldwork in a rural area of Zhejiang Province.
The Green Divide – Urban and Rural Perceptions on Environmental Risks
The political basis of managing environmental risks in China transformed fundamentally from the imaginary of the struggle of men against nature during towards an emphasis on preservation through reconciling men and nature in a harmonious society. However, considering mounting environmental threats and degradation, the nation’s government - and Party organizations cannot shoulder risk management alone. Consequently modern management approaches are more people-centred emphasizing awareness-raising and environmental protection as a collective responsibility. But does this transition stand a reality check? Do Chinese citizens perceive environmental risks as an immediate threat to their livelihoods? And if yes are they prepared to change their life-styles? This paper looks at these issues with a survey conducted in 2008, before and after the Olympic games in Beijing. 2008 has been a critical juncture for public perceptions on environmental risks because air pollution was widely discussed as a hazard for athletes and the US embassy began to measure and publicise air pollution data in Beijing irrespective the protest and censoring attempts of the Chinese government. Based on interviews with 3989 Chinese citizens aged 18 or above in 75 counties spread across seven Provinces and one Municipality this paper finds that rural and urban environmental risk perceptions are fundamentally different. The rural population perceives environmental degradation as an immediate risk to their livelihoods but regard the government as responsible for coming up with solutions. By contrast, urban citizens consider themselves not immediately affected by environmental degradation. In their view protective and preservative measures are a public rather than a pure government task.
Contaminated Encounters: The Chinese Gold Rush in Ghana and Global Flows of Environmental Degradation
An unusual element of the recent 'scramble for Africa' was the entry into Ghana of approximately 50,000 irregular Chinese migrants between 2008 and 2013 to engage in small-scale gold mining. These migrants were overwhelmingly working-class miners from Shanglin County, Guangxi, an area with a tradition of gold mining. In Ghana, they introduced new technologies that dramatically increased gold production, while also causing severe environmental degradation. While the Chinese miners formed mutually beneficial relationships with many local actors and gave a boost to local markets, their presence also caused conflict. Legally, small-scale mining is reserved for Ghanaians, and in some cases the Chinese miners were accused of displacing local small-scale miners, feeding corruption, stealing the country's wealth by smuggling gold, and destroying the ecological basis for many livelihoods. While the government appeared to ignore this phenomenon for some years, eventually media pressure forced President Mahama to act, with a military-style Taskforce established and the deportation of many Chinese miners. This research sets out to revisit this brief but intense episode. It will follow-up on the main participants, both Chinese and Ghanaian, and trace the impacts that this kind of ‘contaminated encounter’ has on the physical landscapes and the livelihoods of those involved, both in Ghana and China.
From ‘Black Rain’ to ‘Black Snow’: Transboundary Pollution in East Asia
The effects of industrialisation on the East Asian environment have been profound. Only a few years after suffering environmental destruction through nuclear fallout in the form of the infamous ‘black rain’, Japan’s postwar export-based boom led to the widespread and severe pollution of its land, air, and water. Its major cities were frequently engulfed in smog and the industrial discharge of mercury, cadmium and other pollutants seeped into the food chain killing and disfiguring infants and adults alike. In ways that bear striking resemblance to postwar Japan, today China has taken over the mantle of Asia’s worst polluter. Much of China’s emissions are a result of export-production, a large proportion of which is sent to Japan as well as the EU and US. However due to geography and prevailing winds China is also sending transboundary pollution Japan’s way. Given Japan’s history and experience with severe pollution, along with its location downwind of China-sourced transboundary pollution, Japan has the capacity and motive to provide support and assistance to China in dealing with this crisis.
However, although much of Japan’s ODA to China has involved green technology transfer and pollution mitigation programmes, as China’s environmental crisis worsens and as China-sourced transboundary pollution is perceived to put Japanese citizens increasingly at risk, Japan’s environmental aid to China has actually declined. The development of the ‘China threat’ narrative framework has played an important role in Japan’s environmental policy vis-à-vis China. Japanese media coverage implies that Chinese pollution is causing significant if not severe environmental destruction in Japan – including the black snow of the title – despite an absence of compelling scientific evidence to support these claims. Meanwhile, the perception of China as a regional rival and geopolitical threat has led to dramatic reductions in Japan’s environmental aid to China. In other words, despite increased risk perception and potential harm to Japan’s environment, the response has not been to seek to mitigate this harm but rather to incorporate it into the ‘China Threat’ narrative framework, further demonising China.
Making Environmental Problems Visible: Engaging Chinese Audiences through Documentary Film
Images and documentary film have long been important to raise awareness and motivate people into actions to protect the environment. One of the earliest films on environmental issues was Noriaki Tsuchimoto’s Minamata: The Victims and Their World (1972) that brought attention to mercury poisoning in Japan and triggered an outcry on theses issues. A more recent example of a film that has had a great impact is Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth (2006); one of the first documentary films to tackle climate change. This paper discusses the different motives, focus, framing and visual rhetoric in documentary films addressing environmental problems in China (compare Lu and Mi 2010; Watt 2014). The paper addresses both the possibilities and limitations of films, bearing in mind that these films are made by different actors, including NGOs, activists, journalists, artists and socially engaged documentary filmmakers and circulated on different platforms. The paper problematizes issues such as voice, frames, agency and audiences (Methmann 2014). In also focuses on how filmmakers and others today use web 2.0 to circulate films and create debates and engagement with audiences (Büscher 2014). The paper addresses a range of different documentary films, including Wakening the Green Tiger (Betsy Carson, Gary Marcuse 2011), Beijing Besieged by Waste (Wang Jiuliang 2011) and Plastic China (Wang Jiuliang 2015), and Behemoth (Zhao Liang 2015), Smog Journeys (Jia Zhangke 2015) and Under the Dome (Chai Jing 2015).