Since 2010, China has been perceived as a rising global champion in clean energy. This has arisen from a combination of action and rhetoric. Action has taken the form of construction of the world’s largest fleets of advanced coal-fired power stations, wind farms and solar photovoltaic arrays, as well as a sustained effort to reduce national GDP intensities of energy and CO2 emissions.

In addition, Chinese companies have become leading suppliers of wind and solar energy equipment. Rhetoric has included government announcements on national policy and international commitments, and, more recently, the thirteenth five-year Plan for Energy (2016–2020).

This Energy and Environmental Change MA seminar will look behind the headlines and examine the factors that have supported these achievements. These include the availability of capital, the role of state-owned companies with soft budgetary constraints, indirect support from local governments, and abundant human capital.

On the other hand, we will also examine the obstacles to reaching the formal goals of reducing air pollution and CO2 emissions, as well as the costs and unintended consequences of these policies. In addition, the seminar will also identify those parts of the energy supply chain where the governance of energy has been less effective in terms of energy efficiency and environmental protection.

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About the speaker

Dr Philip Andrews-Speed is a Senior Principal Fellow at the Energy Studies Institute, National University of Singapore. He has spent 35 years in the field of energy and resources, starting his career as a mineral and oil exploration geologist before moving into the field of energy and resource governance. Until 2010 he was Professor of Energy Policy at the University of Dundee and Director of the Centre of Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy.

During the academic year 2011–12 he was a Fellow of the Transatlantic Academy at the German Marshall Fund of the United States in Washington DC. His main research interest is the political economy of energy and resource governance, at national, regional and global scales. He is currently leading a major research project entitled “Policy and Law for Nuclear Safety and Security”.

Recent books include China, Oil and Global Politics (with Roland Dannreuther), The Governance of Energy in China: Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy, and Want, Waste or War? The Global Resource Nexus and the Struggle for Land, Energy, Food, Water and Minerals (with five co-authors).