Interview With Zhoudan Xie

By Andre Avanessians, Staff Writer, Brief Policy Perspectives

Zhoudan Xie is a current graduate student at the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at the George Washington University with a concentration in program evaluation and an interest in environmental policy. She currently works as a research assistant in the regulatory studies center analyzing agricultural policy. On Wednesday February 10th, I sat down with Xie to talk about her article that will be published in Volume 23 of Policy Perspectives.

Brief Policy Perspectives: What is your article about and what are the key points you present?

Zhoudan Xie: My article discusses the seven pilot programs regarding the carbon emission trading system (ETS) in China. I discussed the design system of these pilots since the oldest one was started two to three  years ago. Also, I discussed the performance of that market and what design features have worked well so far and which ones have not. In the end I made recommendations for the upcoming national emission trading system that will be launched next year.

BPP: How did you get the interested in that topic?

ZX: I started this paper last spring in Professor Brock’s economics class. The national ETS program was very popular in that field because it was saying that the system will start this year. However, it was delayed, and then it required time to review the solar panels to see which design works best. Ultimately this is why I looked at this topic.  The cap and trade system was a very interesting aspect of this overall system.

BPP: What do you want people to take away from this article?

ZX: In terms of the ETS, while it’s called an ETS market, it is more dependent on the policies it implies. In China, with the unique political system, the top-down political system is important. Success of the national ETS is the continuation of the policy. The seven pilot systems are designing their own system and since there is no unifying system, it becomes more significant in terms of the policies that are being implemented. Basically, how can the state find a design that has a regional focus.

BPP: Who do you want to see this article?

ZX: I don’t know if anyone in the U. would be interested, but this article would be useful in front of the Chinese government, especially for the commission of the development department. They are the agency that is responsible for designing and administering the carbon emission trading system. Also, any NGO and think tanks that are interested in China’s emissions trading.

BPP: Would you say that the current administrator for that development program is more open to the cap and trade/emissions issue, or is this official more focused on the economic impact of implementing these policies?

ZX: The politicians in China are very ambitious about emission reduction. In a recent hearing by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) that China submitted to the United Nations, their target for emissions reduction should be at peak levels by 2030. They are hoping to achieve a 60-70% reduction, which is a very ambitious goal.

BPP: Where can your readers go for more information about your topic?
ZX: There are many articles/studies/news stories published on this topic, so readers could get more background information from reading other publications. The actual development of China’s emission trading system is updated very frequently since the scheduled start date (2017) is approaching. A new policy may be coming out very soon. To get the latest and most accurate information about China’s ETS, the best way is to talk with Chinese government officials from the national and local Development and Reform Commissions. This is also what I wish I could have done when I was writing this article.

You can read Xie’s article, “China’s Carbon Emissions Trading: Lessons from the Pilot System”s in Volume 23 of Policy Perspectives, which comes out April 15th!  The article appears online here.

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