Sarah Beringer: A Green Nexus? Analyzing U.S.-Chinese Cooperation on Clean Energy and Climate Change

On June 6th 2017, only a few months into his presidency, Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, the first binding climate change mitigation agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UFCCC). The announcement marked a clear break from the climate-driven ‘clean’ energy agenda Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama had put forward – both domestically and internationally. For Obama, the Paris Accord signed by 175 parties in December 2015 had been a central success of his presidency. Yet, the deal would not have been possible without consent from China, the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter. Leading up to the Paris accord, a U.S.-China green energy cooperation had been officially declared in the context of a joint announcement of the two countries’ intended nationally determined contributions (INDC) to a multilateral deal in 2014. This ‘Green Alliance’ has sustained – mostly on the subsystemic level – even after the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord and despite increasing tensions over security questions in the South China Sea as well as a waning trade war. This project thus analyzes incentives ­– both political and economical – that led the U.S. as largest energy producer and China as largest energy consumer to form this partnership despite their strong rivalry in most other spheres, including trade disputes over green technology products. The analysis concentrates on the years of the Obama Administration (2009–2017), but takes into account prior developments and recent progresses such as the announcement of a strategic partnership between China and California in the absence of a continued federal strategy in the U.S.

Sarah Beringer

Sarah Beringer is Research Coordinator at the German Historical Institute Washington DC. Before joining the GHI in 2016, she held positions as Postdoc and Research Associate at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany and was a visiting scholar at Florida International University in Miami. In her research she focuses on issues in international political economy, particularly transnational aspects of energy, climate change and green technology as well as trade and investment regulation and policy. Her regional focus is on the U.S. and emerging economies. Her current research project analyzes U.S. and Chinese climate change and green energy policies and their potential for bilateral cooperation. She is the author of Handelspolitik in einer Multipolaren Welt. Der wirtschaftliche Aufstieg Brasiliens und die handelspolitischen Beziehungen zu den USA (Springer, 2015) and co-editor of EU Development Policies: Between Norms and Geopolitics? (Palgrave MacMillan, forthcoming) and The United States in International Relations (WVT, forthcoming).


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