Let’s Talk Coordinated Governance

Chinese policymakers learn from California’s pioneering work on air and climate regulation.

We are pleased to announce the launch of a new report on Coordinated Governance of Air and Climate Pollutants: Lessons from the California Experience – authored by me, David Pettit at NRDC, and Siyi Shen. The report is an effort to introduce California’s experience in air and climate regulation to Chinese regulators and researchers. In 2018, China’s Ministry of Ecology & Environment gained regulatory authority over climate change regulation that had previously resided at the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China’s economic planning agency. The reorganization, which put air and climate regulatory authorities under one roof, has spurred Chinese interest in greater coordination of air pollutant and greenhouse gas (GHG) regulation.

The idea of coordinating air and climate regulation is straightforward. All things being equal, it is preferable to pursue measures that fulfill multiple objectives and maximize “co-benefits.” Although coordination is simple in concept, it’s much more difficult in implementation. Bureaucratic fragmentation, divided regulatory authorities, and overall complexity all take their toll.

Even so, California has made strides in coordinating regulation of air and climate pollutants. The 2016 Mobile Source Strategy is perhaps the most conscious effort to coordinate state-wide regulation of air pollutants, GHGs, and toxic emissions in the transportation sector. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s 2017 Clean Air Plan is the best example of a coordinated approach at the regional level. Our report provides an overview of California’s top-level targets and the measures being taken in the transportation, energy, and industrial sectors. It also addresses California’s use of cap-and-trade funds to support air pollution and climate change efforts, and important developments in environmental justice. The goal was to make California’s work on air and climate change accessible to a broader audience beyond U.S. borders. Our specific audience during the drafting of this report was policymakers and researchers in China, but we hope the report will be of use to others around the world and in the U.S.

We launched the report on August 24th (Beijing time) via a bilingual Zoom with more than a hundred attendees from China, the U.S. and Canada. The meeting included remarks from Ming Dengli, head of Beijing Bureau of Ecology & Environment’s Climate Change Department; Lauren Sanchez, deputy secretary at CalEPA (by video); Ma Jun, Chai Fahe, and other leading Chinese environmental experts.

The project received support from the Energy Foundation China. Our research was conducted in collaboration with the Beijing Bureau of Ecology & Environment and researchers from Peking University, China Academy of Environmental Planning, and others.

You can download a copy of the report in English or Chinese.

This blog was co-authored with Siyi Shen.


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About Alex

Alex Wang is Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law, and a Faculty Co-Director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. He is a leading expert on en…

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