Document Type



Public Administration

First Advisor's Name

Allan Rosenbaum

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

David Bray

Third Advisor's Name

Sukumar Ganapati

Fourth Advisor's Name

Shaoming Cheng

Fifth Advisor's Name

Jue Wang


Climate Change, policy process, policy network, China

Date of Defense



Climate change is one of the most important and urgent issues of our time. Since 2006, China has overtaken the United States as the world’s largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter. China’s role in an international climate change solution has gained increased attention. Although much literature has addressed the functioning, performance, and implications of existing climate change mitigation policies and actions in China, there is insufficient literature that illuminates how the national climate change mitigation policies have been formulated and shaped. This research utilizes the policy network approach to explore China’s climate change mitigation policy making by examining how a variety of government, business, and civil society actors have formed networks to address environmental contexts and influence the policy outcomes and changes.

The study is qualitative in nature. Three cases are selected to illustrate structural and interactive features of the specific policy network settings in shaping different policy arrangements and influencing the outcomes in the Chinese context. The three cases include the regulatory evolution of China’s climate change policy making; the country’s involvement in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) activity, and China’s exploration of voluntary agreement through adopting the Top-1000 Industrial Energy Conservation Program. The historical analysis of the policy process uses both primary data from interviews and fieldwork, and secondary data from relevant literature.

The study finds that the Chinese central government dominates domestic climate change policy making; however, expanded action networks that involve actors at all levels have emerged in correspondence to diverse climate mitigation policy arrangements. The improved openness and accessibility of climate change policy network have contributed to its proactive engagement in promoting mitigation outcomes.

In conclusion, the research suggests that the policy network approach provides a useful tool for studying China’s climate change policy making process. The involvement of various types of state and non-state actors has shaped new relations and affected the policy outcomes and changes. In addition, through the cross-case analysis, the study challenges the “fragmented authoritarianism” model and argues that this once-influential model is not appropriate in explaining new development and changes of policy making processes in contemporary China.





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