China

A Ray of Hope [Breaking News]

President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a major deal on climate change this morning.  As summarized by the Washington Post, China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, pledged in the far-reaching agreement to cap its rapidly growing carbon emissions by 2030, or earlier if possible. It also set a daunting goal of […]

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Do EPA’s Carbon Emissions Rules Point to a New Climate Treaty? Nope.

The Future Global Climate Regime Will Not Rely on an International Accord

The irrepressible Jonathan Chait continues to do what he does best: shredding the GOP’s neanderthal nihilism on climate (or as Andrew Sullivan notes, the Republican Party has become “a reckless, know-nothing, post-modern fantasy machine.”). But Chait makes one big leap of logic that should actually be scotched. Chait points out that contrary to conservative predictions that […]

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What Beijing Could Learn From George Washington

But It Seems More Interested in Following John Roberts

Alex’s terrific op-ed raises two key questions, one snide and disturbing, the other more profound. As for the first, I couldn’t help notice this point in the middle of his piece: Courts often refuse to even accept difficult or sensitive cases. The Supreme People’s Court has adopted rules for breaking up class-action lawsuits and relegating […]

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China’s Pollution Challenge

Can a new law save China’s environment?

Benjamin van Rooij and I published the following in the New York Times op-ed page today.  In short, it is about the challenges the new Environmental Protection Law will face in practice and the critical reforms needed to overcome these challenges: China’s national legislature has adopted sweeping changes to the country’s Environmental Protection Law, revisions […]

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The Perils of Rail Transit and Democracy

How Decentralized Decision-Making Can Screw Up Rail Planning and Implementation

Americans seem to love democracy but hate many of the results. We want governmental power to be decentralized, whether it’s across three federal branches or with local control over sometimes regionally oriented land use decisions. But when the inevitable compromise that is required to get majority approval means a less-than-perfect result, from Obamacare to budget […]

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How Responsible Are Americans for China’s Pollution Problem?

An online conversation from several perspectives

Yesterday, I participated in an online conversation at Chinafile.com on the question of “How Responsible Are Americans For China’s Pollution Problem?”  I post the lead comment by David Vance Wagner of the International Council on Clean Transportation along with my response.  Elizabeth Economy from the Council on Foreign Relations and Isabel Hilton of Chinadialogue.net (among […]

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Carbon Responsibility — Producers versus Consumers

Carbon emitters, not their customers, bear the primary responsibility for combatting climate change.

Has the U.S. “exported” its carbon emissions to China by relying on China to manufacture so many of our goods?  There seems to be growing support for the idea that carbon emissions should be tied to consumption of goods rather than their manufacture, as the NY Times reported recently.  There is a grain of truth […]

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COPs: The Erratic Evolution of Global Climate Policy

The latest Conference of the Parties (COP) in Warsaw didn’t make headlines — more like footnotes.  Two things have become clear.  First, the formal UN negotiations are only part of the transnational development of climate policy.  And second, the UN negotiations are moving slowly and fitfully, but they are making progress.  Neither of these things […]

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Passing Gas

A better accounting of GHGs can improve the climate discourse

The tendency to divide global GHG emissions by country is a product of the well-mixed dispersal of most of warming gases, and the international politics that attach to cross-border pollution.  A country’s emission numbers imply accountability and culpability, and frame the discourse on how to respond.  Going forward on policymaking, it’s worth looking at how […]

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Air Pollution in China Shuts Down City of 11 Million

The airpocalypse is back. What should Chinese leaders do about it?

On Sunday, the start of the heating season in northern China brought the “airpocalypse” back with a vengeance (although some might say it never left).  Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang Province and home to 11 million people, registered fine particulate (PM2.5) pollution levels beyond 500 on the Chinese Air Quality Index, which is considered hazardous […]

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