New book: China and Great Power Responsibility for Climate Change

What does it mean to be a Great Power in climate questions? What is demanded of the global climate leader and is China really prepared for facing up to the responsibility?

In recent years, China has increasingly identified itself as a great power with great responsibility in international climate politics as well as formulated rather ambitious climate policies to live up to that responsibility. As US leadership in great power responsibility for climate change has declined in the era of President Donald Trump, China’s emergence as a leader of global efforts to tackle climate change is now more clearly possible than ever before. Yet, it remains unclear what kind of climate leader China is willing to be and how it will define what it means to be responsible great power in the 21st century. A new book by postdoctoral researcher Sanna Kopra from the Aleksanteri Institute explores the way China’s rise to great power status transforms the notions of great power responsibility in general and in the context of international climate politics in particular. In this way, Kopra’s book seeks to shed new light on the transformations China’s rise will yield and the kind of great power China will prove to be.

China and Great Power Responsibility for Climate Change investigates China’s notions of responsibility in international climate politics, particular in what terms the Chinese government considers itself to be responsible, for what, to whom and, above all, why. The book develops a new normative framework of great power climate responsibility and argues that the international norm of climate responsibility is an emerging attribute of great power responsibility: Since climate change is one the biggest security threat of our times, great powers have special responsibility to lead global efforts to mitigate and adapt to it. As an emerging great power, China cannot shirk this special responsibility, and as the established great power, the United States must renew its climate leadership immediately.

Dr. Sanna Kopra belongs the Aleksanteri Institute's growing group of researchers working on Russian environmental studies. She defended her thesis in political science in 2016 in Tampere, Finland. Her current research is connected to a three-year project Assessing Intermediary Expertise in Cross-Border Arctic Energy Development led by professor Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen .

Sanna Kopra discusses her new book at the Aleksanteri Institute’s series of research seminars, New Perspectives on Russia, on 14 August at 14:15 – welcome!