Energy Policy Design and China’s Local Climate Governance: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Policies in Hangzhou

  • Ting Guan
  • Jørgen DelmanEmail author


This study probes climate policy design at city level in China, with Hangzhou’s energy efficiency (EE) and renewable energy (RE) 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—that is, command-and-control, market-based, and collaborative governance instruments—and their development over time is examined. It is concluded that in Hangzhou EE is a more mature and comprehensive political action arena than RE. The study also finds that there has been a significant shift away from preferences toward 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. Thus, the approach of Hangzhou’s government to the design and implementation of climate policies seem to gradually become less authoritarian, more market based, and more accountable due to the inherent complexity of this political action arena.



We are grateful to Prof. Yu Jianxing for his support to the project, to Zhang Liyan for her research assistance, and to Andrew Podger for comments on an initial draft.


  1. Boyd, Anya, Samantha Keen, and Britta Rennkamp. “A comparative analysis of emerging institutional arrangements for domestic MRV in developing countries.” Energy Research Centre, Cape Town: University of Cape Town, 2014.
  2. Boyd, Olivia. “China’s energy reform and climate policy: the ideas motivating change.” CCEP Working 1205. Canberra: Centre for Climate Economics and Policy, Crawford School of Economics and Government, the Australian National University, 2012.Google Scholar
  3. Broto, Vanesa C. and Harriet Bulkeley. “A survey of urban climate change experiments in 100 cities.” Global Environmental Change 23, (2013): 92–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bulkeley, Harriet. Cities and climate change. London: Routledge, 2013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chow, Gregory C. “Economic planning in China.” CEPS Working Paper, No. 219, (2011).
  6. Cottrell, Jacqueline, Richard Bridle, Zhao Yongqiang, Shi Jingli, Xie Xuxuan,Christopher Beaton, Aaron Leopold, Eike Meyer, Shruti Sharma and Han Cheng. “Green revenues for green energy: environmental fiscal reform for renewable energy technology deployment in China.” Winnipeg: International Institute for Sustainable Development and China National Renewable Energy Centre, 2013.Google Scholar
  7. CPCCC (Central Committee of the Communist Party of China). “China’s central decision on deepening reforms” [Zhongguo zhongyang guanyu quanmian shenhua gaige ruogan zhongda wenti de jueding.] Xinhua, 2013.
  8. Delman, Jørgen. “Urban climate change politics in China: fragmented authoritarianism and governance innovations in Hangzhou.” In Chinese Politics as Fragmented Authoritarianism: Earthquakes, energy and environment, edited by Kjeld Erik Brødsgaard, 156–180. Routledge, 2016.Google Scholar
  9. Dubash, Navroz K., Markus Hagemann, Niklas Höhne, and Prabhat Upadhyaya. “Developments in national climate change mitigation legislation and strategy.” Climate Policy 6 (2013): 649–664.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. General Administration of Quality Supervision (GAQS), “General principle for equipping and managing of the measuring instrument of energy in organization of energy using” [Yongneng danwei nengyuan jiliang qiju peibei he guanli tongze], 2006.
  11. Göbel, Christian. “Uneven policy implementation in rural China.” The China Journal 65 (2011): 53–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Guan, Ting, Dieter Grunow, and Jianxing Yu. “Improving China’s Environmental Performance through Adaptive Implementation—A Comparative Case Study of Cleaner Production in Hangzhou and Guiyang.” Sustainability 6, no. 12 (2014): 8889–8908.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Guo, Baogang. “New Trends in China’s Administrative Reform.” China Research Centre Journal [online], 3(2) (2014).
  14. Hangzhou Government, “Hangzhou 11th Five Year Plan for energy conservation” [Hangzhoushi “shiyi wu” jieneng zhuanxiang guihua], 2005.Google Scholar
  15. Hangzhou Government, “Annual work plan for energy conservation in Hangzhou (2007)” [Hangzhoushi renmin zhengfu guanyu qieshi zuohao 2007 nian jieneng gongzuo de tongzhi], 2007,
  16. Hangzhou Government, “Annual work plan for energy conservation in Hangzhou (2009)” [Hanghzoushi 2009 nian jieneng gongzuo shishi fangan], 2009.Google Scholar
  17. Hangzhou Government, “Hangzhou government’s decision on preparing the directory of the Twelfth Five-year Plan” [Hangzhoushi renmin zhengfu bangongting guanyu yinfa Hangzhoushi “shier wu” guihua bianzhi mulu de tongzhi], 2010a.
  18. Hangzhou Government, “Hangzhou 12th Five Year Plan for energy conservation” [Hangzhoushi “shier wu” jieneng guihua], 2010b.Google Scholar
  19. Hangzhou Government, “Annual work plan for energy conservation in Hangzhou (2010)” [Hangzhoushi 2010 nian jieneng gongzuo shishi fangan], 2010c.
  20. Hangzhou Government, “Hangzhou new energy industry development plan (2010–2015)” [Hangzhoushi xin nengyuan chanye fazhan guihua (2010–2015)] 2010d.
  21. Hangzhou Government, “Annual work plan for energy conservation in Hangzhou (2011)” [Hangzhoushi 2011 nian jieneng gongzuo shishi fangan de tongzhi], 2011a.
  22. Hangzhou Government, “Development plan of strategic emerging industries of Hangzhou (2011–2015)” [Hangzhoushi zhanluexing xinxing chanye fazhan guihua], 2011b.
  23. Hangzhou Government, “Annual work plan for energy conservation in Hangzhou (2012)” [Hangzhoushi renmin zhengfu bangongting guanyu yinfa hangzhoushi 2012 nian jieneng gongzuo shishi fangan de tongzhi], 2012a.
  24. Hangzhou Government, “Development plan for ten major industries of Hangzhou (2011–2015)” [Hangzhoushi shida chanye fazhan zongti guihua (2010–2015)], 2012b.
  25. Hangzhou Government, “Annual work plan for energy conservation in Hangzhou (2013)” [Hangzhoushi 2013 nian jieneng gongzuo shishi fangan], 2013a.
  26. Hangzhou Government, “Implementing plans for ‘one thousand ten thousand tons’ energy-saving program” [Hangzhoushi “wandun qianjia” jieneng xingdong shishi fangan], 2013b.
  27. Hangzhou Government, “Three-year action plan of innovation and development for energy-saving and environmental protection industries in Hangzhou” [Hangzhoushi jieneng huanbao chanye chuangxin fazhan sannian xingdong jihua], 2013c.
  28. Hangzhou Government, “Conference of energy conservation and consumption reduction report in 2014” [2014 nian quanshi jieneng jianghao gongzuo xingshi tongbao hui], 2014a.
  29. Hangzhou Government, “Annual work plan for energy conservation in Hangzhou (2014)” [Hangzhoushi 2014 nian jieneng gongzuo shishi fangan de tongzhi], 2014b.
  30. Hangzhou Government, “Hangzhou Municipal Government opinions on the better development of the distributed photovoltaic industry by accelerating the applications” [Hangzhoushi renmin zhengfu guanyu jiakuai fenbushi guangfu fadian yingyong cujin chanye jiankang fazhan de shishi yijian], 2014c.
  31. Hangzhou Government, “Hangzhou ‘Twelfth Five Year’ low carbon urban plan” [Hangzhoushi “shier wu” ditan chengshi fazhan guihua], 2014d.Google Scholar
  32. Heilmann, Sebastian, and Elizabeth J. Perry, eds. Mao’s invisible hand: the political foundations of adaptive governance in China. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2011.Google Scholar
  33. Heilmann, Sebastian. “From local experiments to national policy: The origins of China’s distinctive policy process.” The China Journal 59 (2008): 1–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Ingram, Helen, Anne L. Schneider, and Peter DeLeon. “Social construction and policy design.” Theories of the policy process 2 (2007): 93–126.Google Scholar
  35. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Climate change 2014: mitigation of climate change. Vol. 3. Cambridge University Press, 2015.Google Scholar
  36. Koehn, Peter H. China Confronts Climate Change: A Bottom-up Perspective. Routledge, 2015.Google Scholar
  37. Kooiman, Jan, Maarten Bavinck, Ratana Chuenpagdee, Robin Mahon, and Roger Pullin. “Interactive governance and governability: an introduction.” Journal of Transdisciplinary environmental studies 7, no. 1 (2008): 1–11.Google Scholar
  38. Kostka, Genia. “Barriers to the implementation of environmental policies at the local level in China.” World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 7016. Washington, DC: World Bank Group, 2014.
  39. Kostka, Genia, and Kyoung Shin. “Energy conservation through energy service companies: Empirical analysis from China.” Energy Policy 52 (2013): 748–759.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. KPMG. “A green economy on the cutting edge of technology–invest Hangzhou: energy conservation and environment protection industry.” 2011.
  41. KPMG. “An emerging centre for the green economy-invest in Hangzhou: energy conservation and environmental protection.” 2012.Google Scholar
  42. KPMG, “New Energy: leading the way in Hangzhou’s green economy-Invest in Hangzhou: New energy.” 2013.Google Scholar
  43. Lieberthal, Kenneth, and Michel Oksenberg. Policy making in China: Leaders, structures, and processes. Princeton University Press, 1988.Google Scholar
  44. Liu, Dan. “IFC and Hangzhou government collaboration on supporting bank credits for the energy conservation and emission projects IFC.” [Yu Hangzhoushi zhengfu jianli jieneng rouzi hezuo], 2011.
  45. Mai, Qianqing, and Maria Francesch-Huidobro. Climate change governance in Chinese cities. Routledge, 2014.Google Scholar
  46. Ministry of Finance (MF). “Two ministries request to set up examples of energy conservation & emission reduction using fiscal policy” [Liangbumen yaoqiu kaizhan jienengjianpai caizheng zhengce zonghe shifan gongzuo], 2011.
  47. National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and National Energy Bureau (NEB). “Renewable energy development of the 12th Five-year plan.” [Kezaisheng nengyuan fazhan “shierwu” guihua], 2012.Google Scholar
  48. Odgaard, Ole, and Jørgen Delman. “China’s energy security and its challenges towards 2035.” Energy Policy 71 (2014): 107–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). “Cities and Climate Change National governments enabling local action. Policy Perspectives.” 2014.
  50. Ostrom, Elinor. “Institutional rational choice. An assessment of the institutional analysis and development framework.” In Theories of the Policy Process, edited by Paul Sabatier, 21–64. Boulder: Westview Press, 2007.Google Scholar
  51. Pattberg, Philipp, and Johannes Stripple. “Beyond the public and private divide: remapping transnational climate governance in the 21st century.” International environmental agreements: Politics, law and economics 8, no. 4 (2008): 367–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Qi, Ye. “Annual review of Low-Carbon development in China (2013): policy implementation and institutional innovation:” [Zhongguo ditan fazhan baogao (2013): zhengce zhixing yu zhidu chuangxin]. Beijing: Social Sciences Academic Press, 2013.Google Scholar
  53. Qi, Ye, and Tong Wu. “The politics of climate change in China.” Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 4, no. 4 (2013): 301–313.Google Scholar
  54. Rhodes, Roderick Arthur William. “The new governance: governing without government.” Political studies 44, no. 4 (1996): 652–667.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Schlager, Edella. “A Comparison of frameworks, theories and models of policy processes.” In Theories of the Policy Process, edited by Paul Sabatier, 293–319. Boulder: Westview Press, 2007.Google Scholar
  56. Schröder, Miriam. ed. Local climate governance in China: hybrid actors and market mechanisms. Hampshire, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.Google Scholar
  57. Sigley, Gary. “Chinese governmentalities: government, governance and the socialist market economy.” Economy and Society 35, no. 4 (2006): 487–508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Song, R., W. Dong, J. Zhu, X. Zhao, and Y. Wang. Assessing implementation of China’s climate policies in the 12th 5-year period. World Resources Institute Working Paper.
  59. Stavins, Robert N. “Policy instruments for climate change: how can national governments address a global problem?” The University of Chicago Legal Forum, (1997) 293–330.Google Scholar
  60. Wang, Alex. “The Search for Sustainable Legitimacy. Environmental Law and Bureaucracy in China.” 37 Harvard Environmental Law Review 365 (2013): 367–440.Google Scholar
  61. Xu, Bo, Qie Sun, Ronald Wennersten, and Nils Brandt. “An analysis of Chinese policy instruments for climate change mitigation.” International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management 2, no. 4 (2010): 380–392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Yu, Jianxing, and Shizong Wang. “The applicability of governance theory in China.” In China’s Search for Good Governance, edited by Deng Zhenlai and Guo Sujian, 35–48. Palgrave Macmillan US, 2011.Google Scholar
  63. Zhang, ZhongXiang. “Carbon emissions trading in China: the evolution from pilots to a nationwide scheme.” Climate Policy 15, no. sup1 (2015): S104-S126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Zhejiang Economy and Trade Committee (ZETC) and Zhejiang Statistics Bureau (ZSB). “Implementation guideline for performance appraisal of energy consumption reduction per unit GDP in Zhejiang Province.” [Zhejiangshen danwei GDP nenghao kaohe tixi shishi fangan], 2008.
  65. Zhou, Di, and Anaïs Delbosc. “The economic tools of chinese climate and energy policy at the time of the 12th five-year plan.” Climate Report, no. 38, 2013.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public Policy and ManagementTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, China StudiesUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

Personalised recommendations