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Step by Step: The Reform of China’s Energy Economy

About the Project 

Our goal is to understand the context of China’s energy economy, decision-making process and (even) social mores. This understanding will enable the collection of relevant and accurate data both to feed analysis and drive the interpretation of model outputs. The project aims to analyze and assess information to obtain policy relevant insights. Its focus is on investigating the global consequences of changes to energy markets within China.

The overall objective is to combine an understanding of the fundamentals of China’s energy economy, derived from KAPSARC’s Energy Model for China, and of the policy landscape, through the construction of the KAPSARC Energy Policy Database. The two platforms and the associated knowledge can then be used to answer a range of questions around the reform of China’s energy sector, ultimately leading to an informed view on the future of China’s energy mix.

In line with KAPSARC’s overall objectives, the aim is to produce policy relevant insights that may assist actors outside China to understand the consequences of decisions taken by actors in China. 

The Energy Workshop Series supports the overall project by providing a space for a continuing dialogue that raises the key issues, provides feedback on current work and can set future directions. In addition, the workshops are an open collaborative forum that enables the discussion of particular questions that feed into the overarching research agenda

Key Points

  • Reform has dominated political discussion in China at least since Xi Jinping took over the leadership at the end of 2012. There is increasing understanding both inside and outside China that the economy is rebalancing from export – led growth toward domestic consumption. This emerging ‘new China’ is making reform – including reform of the energy economy – ever more necessary and urgent.
  • China’s successes have elevated it to a middle-income country, but with this have come new challenges and new targets, not least of which surround the dependence upon coal and the regulation of its energy sector. The ambition of doubling per capita GDP once again will require an updated economic growth model and an optimized energy fuel-mix. It also implies the emergence of a more affluent society with new expectations to be met, and the development of a more predictable regulatory system
  • Neither the need for reform nor its urgency is open to doubt, only the route to be followed. Incrementalism in reforming the energy economy emerges as key if China’s leaders are to confound the skeptics once again.

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