Norms and flexibility: Comparing two mitigation policies implemented in Shanghai

Environmental Science and Policy, Vol 92, 2019, pp. 281-288

China has stepped up its efforts on abating pollution, saving energy and reducing emissions. Local government involvement is crucial. In the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015), Shanghai municipality’s two main mitigation policies were the carbon-market pilot (emissions-trading scheme, ETS) and the 10,000 Enterprises Energy-Saving and Low-Carbon Actions (10,000 Programme). The ETS pilot achieved full compliance, whereas 15-17% of the 10,000 Programme’s target entities fell short each year. This article compares how the government implemented the policies, seeking factors that can explain the outputs. The structured and focused comparison employs a policy-implementation process model, using data from written sources and semi-structured interviews in Shanghai and Beijing, 2015-2017. The government’s normative power emerged as a major factor: the local ownership of the ETS pilot sent strong normative signals to target entities that it was important to complete the tasks required of them. Further, policy requirements for determining output were more detailed and less flexible in the 10,000 Programme than the ETS pilot, making full compliance difficult.



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