Co-authored by Joshua Busby, Associate Professor of Public Affairs at the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the LBJ School of the University of Texas at Austin, and Sarang Shidore, a Visiting Scholar at the LBJ School, this paper focuses on how the international policy environment can help shape China’s choices to more vigorously reduce its carbon footprint. While recognizing the enormous effort China has already undertaken domestically on energy and environment, the authors argue that certain US actions can nonetheless incentivize and reinforce China’s carbon reduction efforts.
Given the complicated relationship between the need to improve air quality while cutting carbon, it is no surprise that the Chinese government is grappling with a multiplicity of solutions and options. Settling on the optimal mix of actions involves serious consideration of choices, challenges, and tradeoffs. Thus, Beijing finds itself in the unenviable position of trying to determine a balanced approach among numerous options, all of which could yield unintended outcomes for addressing climate.
According to the authors, within this context, the US can capitalize on existing opportunities for further engagement, in large part to help China sort the better options from suboptimal ones, drawing on US and international experiences. US engagement could also help to reinforce the incentives for China to pursue actions that target carbon more directly.
While sustaining momentum on climate at home will be important for US credibility, the authors argue there are several areas where engagement could yield positive outcomes between the two countries. These include, broadly speaking, fostering transparency through research partnerships, which could help support the thorny process of measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV), as well as vigorously pursuing complementary and pragmatic processes that are not part of the UN negotiations.
Associate Professor of Public Affairs at the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the LBJ School of the University of Texas at Austin (UT)
Joshua Busby is Associate Professor of Public Affairs at the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the LBJ School of the University of Texas at Austin (UT). Prior to UT, Dr. Busby was a research fellow at the Center for Globalization and Governance at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School (2005-2006), the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School (2004-2005), and the Foreign Policy Studies program at the Brookings Institution (2003-2004). He received his PhD from Georgetown University.In addition to his authorship of two books, Busby is the author of several studies on climate change, national security, and energy policy from the Council on Foreign Relations, the Brookings Institution, the German Marshall Fund, and the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Busby is one of the lead researchers in the Strauss Center project on Climate Change and African Political Stability (CCAPS) and is the principal investigator for the project Complex Emergencies and Political Stability in Asia (CEPSA). He has also written on US-China relations on climate change for CNAS and Resources for the Future. His articles have appeared in International Security, International Studies Quarterly, Perspectives on Politics, and Security Studies, among other publications.
Visiting Scholar at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin
Sarang Shidore is an independent researcher and consultant based in Austin and currently Visiting Scholar at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. His areas of research focus are strategic futures and energy/climate policy, with several publications in these areas. Most recently, he co-led a comprehensive scenario planning study on Indian and Asian security in the years 2030 and 2050 at the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses in New Delhi in partial collaboration with the Development, Concepts, and Doctrine Center (DCDC) of the UK Ministry of Defense and also authored the energy security portion of the study. He holds three Master’s degrees—in International Studies, Mechanical Engineering, and Aerospace Engineering, with a prior 15-year career in thermal engineering and product management.
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