Climate Change Mitigation and Role of the USA and China

Session Report
Aqsa Qureshi

Four-Week Immersive Online Introductory Certificate Training Course on “Fundamentals of Public Policy,” an Online Spring School Program was hosted by IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, during the timespan of 3rd March to 25th March 2023. The program included an insightful and enriching discussion delivered by eminent speakers, where the Prof. RAFIQ DOSSANI presented on the topic “Climate Change Mitigation and Role of the USA and China”. The session was opened with introductory and welcoming remarks from Professor Mukul Asher and was further moderated by him.

Prof. RAFIQ DOSSANI continued to enlighten the session by covering:


• Decarbonization or Energy Transition or Climate Change Mitigation

-Reducing the emission of the main greenhouse gas (GHG), carbon dioxide.

• Energy Security

– Assurance of adequate energy to meet long-term demand

• Externality

-A side effect of someone’s activity that benefits or hurts others without cost to either side

• Free-rider Problem

– Market failure of public goods

• Ordinal Number

– The use of numbers only to show preference or ranks rather than quantity

• Electrification

 Actions that increase the use of electricity as the energy source for the economy

• Public good

-A good that whose consumption does not reduce availability for others (non-rivalrous) and whose usage cannot be prevented, e.g., security of a country from invasion

• Climate Change Adaptation

– Actions to protect habitats from the effects of climate change

• Soft Power: A non-coercive approach to persuasion.


• Climate change mitigation (CCM) is now a priority for most countries.

• However, what are the other priorities of a nation?

• Economy, energy security, soft power, air pollution

•Can there be a conflict between these four priorities and climate change?


– Fossil-fuel based products, e.g., plastics producers, fossil-fuel using industries and products, e.g., a coal-fired power plant, and fossil-fuel producers, e.g., an oil refinery, will be hurt by green technologies. These are large segments of the economy and provide gainful employment to less-privileged classes

-There are two solutions

  • Replace fossil fuel with solar power or other green technologies.
  • Convert fossil-fuel using industries to electricity-using industries, e.g., electric cars
  • Both solutions are costly. E.g., India must spend $| trillion a year between now and 2030 to meet its promised target of decarbonization.


• Energy Security: A country that has large reserves of coal, like India, would like to mine coal and use it in an energy crisis. India has, in fact, increased the use of coal in response to oil and gas price hikes after the Ukraine war began. This conflicts with decarbonization.


• Pollution has many of the same causes as GHG emissions, e.g., coal burning emits is of great importance to larger countries, both air pollution and GHG. Reducing the which, as it happens, is also the largest use of coal as a fuel helps both reduce air polluters. This particularly matters for pollution and reduce GHG emissions.

Soft power, or the quest for global stature, is of great importance to larger countires,which, as it happens, are also the largest polluters. This particularly matters for China and the U.S., which actively seek soft power. A country’s soft power increases if it supports CCM.


• The United Framework Convention on Climate Change, and its decision-making body, the Conference of the Parties (COP) have made decisions on climate change since 1995.Each country gets one vote. The developing countries, therefore, control the agenda.

• Like national interests, COP has its ‘international interests. The three main ones are

  1. Reducing the burden of CCM on poor countries through grants from rich countries
    1. Transferring developed country technology on CCM to poor countries
    1. Ensuring that large polluters tackle CCM urgently. These are the US, China, India and the EU

• Let’s see how decisions are made.


 At the start, COP announces the worldwide progress on:

a. Emissions

b. Financial flows from developed to developing countries

c. Technology transfer from developed to developing countries.

2. The developing and developed countries (+ China since 2010) negotiate separately on the above.

3. They then negotiate with each other.

4. With luck, an agreement results. There have been only two agreements to date

a.The Kyoto Protocol of 1997 reached agreement on emissions targets for developed countries only. It failed quickly

b.The Paris Agreement of 2015 included emissions for all countries and financial flows


• Global priorities reflect developing country interests, but were accepted by developed countries in return for soft power

• Outcomes have, unfortunately, not been sustainable.

• China and the U.S. have played leading roles

 Looking Ahead:

• The gap between required and actual commitments continues to increase. This may need developed countries to sharply increase their donations. The need is estimate at $2.4 trillion a year is needed by developing countries until 2030. Commitments are currently running at $55 billion a year, including loans.

• It may be necessary to make commitments of emissions and finance binding rather than voluntary.

• Technology transfer has been neglected so far. This needs to be be included.

Acknowledgement: Aqsa Qureshi is a Research Intern at IMPRI.

Youtube Video of Fundamentals in Public Policy Programme:

Read more session reports on web and policy learning events conducted by IMPRI: Time bound Justice is Easily Possible in India


  • IMPRI Desk

    IMPRI, a startup research think tank, is a platform for pro-active, independent, non-partisan and policy-based research. It contributes to debates and deliberations for action-based solutions to a host of strategic issues. IMPRI is committed to democracy, mobilization and community building.