Date of Degree

6-2022

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Political Science

Advisor

Yan Sun

Committee Members

Peter Liberman

Thomas Weiss

Subject Categories

American Politics | Environmental Studies | International Relations

Keywords

US-China Relations, interest groups, climate change, renewable energy, Paris Agreement, UNFCCC

Abstract

This dissertation analyzes the existence of two constellations of political forces, emphasizing their relationship to each other and the link between their interests related to China and climate change. It argues that two China-related alignments on climate issues are driven by their opposing approaches to US China relations in general in such a way that the latter predicts the former. These broad but opposing coalitions of political forces—one favoring and one opposing cooperation with China—are made up of think tanks, NGOs and industry groups, which have demonstrated a convergence in policy preferences over the course of two presidential administrations, democrat Barack Obama (2009-2017) and republican Donald Trump (2017-2021). The divergent alignments are illustrated in three case studies: (1) the Paris Agreement; (2) development of renewable energy; and, (3) electric vehicle technology and deployment. The case studies demonstrate that these industry-plus-think tank lobbies amplify one another and make policy recommendations with the following characteristics: (1) a reduction of the climate problem to serve the greater security concerns of the US-China relationship; and, (2) opportunities for industry lobbyists to pursue narrow business interests over the broader climate concerns and solutions recommended by scientists.

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