Securitization of climate and environmental protection in China's New Normal

Hernandez, Ariel Macaspac / Charmaine Misalucha-Willoughby
External Publications (2020)

in: Decision-Making in Public Policy & the Social Good eJournal, 22.10.2020

DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.3686466

Around 2009, China’s economy has become the largest greenhouse-gas emitter. Climate protection policies have gradually entered the ‘high politics’ sphere in China particularly when climate and environmental protection have proved to be effective tools in achieving other political goals. When Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, China has entered into the “new normal” with a more comprehensive economic strategy that includes or even elevates a wide range of climate and environmental protection policies. China’s economic development is now shifting the balance of growth away from heavy-industrial investment and toward a more sustainable growth. Why – and how – did China change its tune? The key driver of change on the political importance of climate and environmental protection is China’s effort to recentralize governance. At the same time, while acknowledging that centralization is itself not the end but also a means to other political goals, this paper focuses on how the securitization of climate change and environmental protection has effectively served multiple purposes. It serves as a guiding principle on socioeconomic development and it serves as legitimacy to reestablish control by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) with Xi at the helm. With the linkage of climate and environmental protection to these political goals, China’s experience becomes distinct from the usual securitization process. Also, China shows that while most political processes do not formally include democratic deliberation or the direct approval of an audience, climate and environmental protection does encourage more latent forms of participation not only of citizens, but of experts. Therefore, the process of securitization is also feasible in non-democratic societies

About the author


Further experts

Aleksandrova, Mariya

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Baumann, Max-Otto

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Breuer, Anita

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Dick, Eva

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Dombrowsky, Ines


El-Haddad, Amirah


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Haldenwang, Christian von

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Houdret, Annabelle

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Lehmann, Ina

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Leininger, Julia

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Mehl, Regine

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Morare, Ditebogo Modiegi

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Roll, Michael


Schoderer, Mirja

Environmental Researcher 

Scholz, Imme