The Institutions of Energy Governance in China Notes de l'Ifri, January 2010
International collaboration, in any form, requires trust, and such trust is built on understanding. In the case of collaboration in the field of energy, potential partners need to have an appreciation of frameworks for energy governance in each others’ countries. Only then can they accurately interpret the data, the statements and the declared commitments provided by other parties. Nowhere is this ignorance of greater relevance to today’s challenges than the case of China.
The size and rate of growth of China’s economy, of its energy demand, of its energy imports and of its atmospheric emissions of various types make this country an essential major partner in any regional or global discussions relating to the production and consumption of energy. Yet such is the size, diversity, complexity and lack of transparency characterising China’s energy sector that external parties find it very difficult to interpret the information emerging from the country and the actions and statements of the government. No shortage of information exists. Indeed it might be argued that there is too much information on China’s energy sector: too much information and not enough understanding. The premise of this paper is that an improved understanding of the institutions of governance of China’s energy sector will allow us to better appreciate current structures and policies, past policy decisions and outcomes, and the possible trajectories for future policies and policy outcomes. In short, it should provide us with valuable insights into events, trends and behaviours.