The exportation and importation of the EU’s procedural norms with China on the subject of climate change

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The EU is at the forefront in pressing for compelling instruments to cope with climate
problems and China is increasingly sensitive about this. There is also a close relationship
between both since the 1980s. The EU can be arguably a norm entrepreneur affecting
China’s transition towards an ecological-rational political economy. This claim is
interrogated by anatomising the existence of the EU’s values in China. The analysis starts
with identifying the norms upheld by the EU followed by evaluating diffusion and
internalisation. Document analysis reveals that certain behaviours of the EU can converge
as two procedural norms – Polycentric and Porous Policymaking (PPP) and Ecological
Modernisation (EM). PPP underscores porous public–private coalitions for initiating
policy. Coordinated decision-making, burden-sharing, subsidiarity, harmonisation and
subnational involvement in the EU reflect the norm. EM highlights the compatibility
between the economy and ecological construction. Environmental damage is an
institutionalised problem that is internalised through the principle of polluters pay, allstate
and all-sector participation, an emissions trading mechanism, technology and
Interviews, participatory observations and document analysis confirm that the EU
delivers both norms to China through the mechanisms of procedural expansion,
informational diffusion, physical assistance, cultural filter and socialisation. By designing
joint dialogue and local programmes, the EU creates opportunities for being visible and
facilitating norm internalisation. Essential concepts included in PPP, such as reaching out
to subnational authorities, inviting private actors and organising public–private
partnerships are exported. Its actions in teaching the ETS concept, cooperating in
technology and introducing European standards, represent the delivery of EM.
Consequently, China adapts PPP but modifies EM. It realises that public authorities have
limited capability; project-focused coordination with private actors is a tactic to improve
policy quality, put-into-effect execution and sectoral capacity. Regarding EM, concepts
including national ETS, green intelligent production, recycling economy and
demonstration pilots can all be traced back to European ideologies but with Chinese
interpretations and needs. China accommodates EM to fit in with domestic development
and reorganise administration–society relationship and industrial structures.
Date of Award1 Apr 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorRamon Pacheco Pardo (Supervisor) & Simona Talani (Supervisor)

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