China's Electrical Power Sector, Environmental Protection and Sustainable Trade

By Aaron Cosbey, Song Hong, Matthew Savage on January 19, 2010
This paper considers China's electrical power sector and asks what changes the country might consider as part of a broader strategy to advance toward a sustainable trade strategy for China. It is part of a larger set of papers, co-authored by IISD, various international experts and Chinese experts, devoted to achieving such a strategy. The paper first looks at the characteristics of the sector and the ways in which it relates to sustainable development. Energy—and electricity in particular—is an essential platform for successful development and for a strong export sector, but if it is generated inefficiently or in a polluting manner, it can also hamstring competitive export-based growth and cause environmental and human health problems. This paper surveys international experience with policy instruments to harness this sector for sustainable development, and seeks to apply that experience to the Chinese context. It finishes with a set of policy recommendations.

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SECO, 2010