Mix and match: Configuring different types of policy instruments to develop successful low carbon cities in China

Wenting Ma, WM (Martin) de Jong, Mark de Bruijne, Rui Mu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Local governments in China actively promote low carbon city pilots to respond to the challenges of climate change mentioned in the Sustainable Development Goals, including building sustainable cities and communities, and taking climate action. However, relatively little is known about the actual implementation of programs to achieve sustainable cities, especially how combinations of policy instruments are deployed in the realisation of low carbon cities. First, this study contributes to the literature in policy studies by identifying how four types relevant to carbon city development, hierarchy, market, network and information based ones, can be combined in policy mixes and play out in the effective realisation of low carbon cities in other countries. Second, this framework is used to map the application of policy instruments in China's 35 low carbon pilot cities. This study uses fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis to explore which configurations of policy instruments are in use and assesses their effects on low carbon city construction. It thus builds a bridge between theory on policy instruments, their combinations and low carbon city development. The presence of hierarchical policy instruments appears to be a necessary condition for low carbon city development and their use prevails. Market-based and network-based instruments complement hierarchical instruments but do not suffice in themselves. Applying hierarchical instruments and market-based instruments together tends to hamper the effect of network instruments and information instruments, whereas network instruments appear to be interchangeable with information instruments. Network governance in China's low carbon city development is still comparatively underdeveloped.

Original languageEnglish
Article number125399
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Volume282
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank three anonymous reviewers for their feedback on an earlier version of this manuscript. The authors are grateful to the China Scholarship Council for supporting Wenting Ma’s PhD project. They are also indebted to the Erasmus Initiative for the Dynamics of Inclusive Prosperity, Delft University of Technology, and Dalian University of Technology for the in kind contributions. The authors thank Wei Yang for his discussion in an earlier version of this article writing progress and Haiyan Lu for her sharing the report on low carbon city evaluation.

Funding Information:
In 2008, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) jointly launched ?Low Carbon City? pilots in Shanghai and Baoding. In 2010, National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) issued the ?Notice on Launching Pilot Work in Low-carbon Provinces and Low-carbon Cities?, and identified Guangdong, Liaoning, Hubei, Shaanxi, Yunnan as pilot provinces to develop low carbon cities. Tianjin, Chongqing, Shenzhen, Xiamen, Hangzhou, Nanchang, Guiyang and Baoding were identified as the first batch of eight national low carbon city pilots in China (Appendix A, Table A1). Subsequently, in 2013 NDRC proposed 28 cities and one province as a second batch, and 45 cities as a third batch in 2017. Anno 2020, China has 81 low carbon pilot cities and six low carbon pilot provinces in total (NDRC) (Appendix A, Table A1).This work is funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant number: 71774022); Liaoning Revitalization Talents Program (grant number: XLYC1807057).The authors thank three anonymous reviewers for their feedback on an earlier version of this manuscript. The authors are grateful to the China Scholarship Council for supporting Wenting Ma's PhD project. They are also indebted to the Erasmus Initiative for the Dynamics of Inclusive Prosperity, Delft University of Technology, and Dalian University of Technology for the in kind contributions. The authors thank Wei Yang for his discussion in an earlier version of this article writing progress and Haiyan Lu for her sharing the report on low carbon city evaluation.

Funding Information:
This work is funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant number: 71774022 ); Liaoning Revitalization Talents Program (grant number: XLYC1807057 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020

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