China and Climate Change: A Strategy for U.S. Engagement

Nov 15, 2010 | Joshua W. Busby


In the absence of comprehensive domestic legislation to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, the United States has limited influence over China’s climate policy. China’s actions have their own internal logic. To the extent that energy efficiency and environmental goals offer co-benefits that reinforce economic competitiveness, energy security, and pollution control, these policies will have support. In this context, the Obama administration should: (1) follow through on the modest technology agreements completed in November 2009; (2) prioritize domestic legislation at home to up the pressure on China to do more; (3) depoliticize the transparency regime of measurement, reporting, and verification; (4) explore with great care the possibility of border tax adjustments; (5) instruct U.S. negotiators to avoid hectoring China on climate change; (6) pursue sectoral agreements with China to restrain emissions in heavy industry; and, (7) establish an overall policy environment in both countries to give private actors the incentive to alter their behavior to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.