The Chinese state and society are frequently engaged in an area of mutual concern: the increasing threat of climate change. The state is approaching this concern by directing China’s development towards a low-carbon economy, where the aim is to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions without limiting economic growth. Societal actors such as social organisations started emerging in China in the 1980s and are to a further extent than before interacting politically with state matters, climate change included.
This thesis explores how societal actors, environmental non-governmental organisation (ENGOs), are interacting with state actors when addressing climate change mitigation issues. Through the two sub-variants of corporatism; societal corporatism and state corporatism, it will analyse whether or not the societal corporate mechanisms are challenging the state corporate mechanisms in the Chinese climate change and NGO politics. Furthermore, this thesis explores to what extent ENGOs are setting and pursuing their own climate change mitigating agendas and to what extent the state or other factors determine those agendas for them. Through the case study of two domestic climate change concerned ENGOs, China Civil Climate Action Network (C-CAN) and China Youth Climate Action Network (CYCAN), this thesis aims to elucidate what cases are on the ENGOs’ agendas and how they approach both state, each other and society through their work.
This thesis draws the concluding remarks that state corporate mechanisms are still evident for social organisations’ expansion, legitimacy and credibility in China. However, the growth of societal corporate mechanism that target combating climate change is gaining a stronger foothold and withhold the ENGOs’ political interaction possibilities with state corporate mechanisms. The international climate change negotiations, the use of online media and private market mechanisms are signs of this growth. Furthermore, the state is inviting ENGOs to join climate change related collaboration projects, despite the various organisations’ registration statuses. This leads us to believe that the inclusion of the public in order to address the threat of climate change is a strategy prompted by the state to combat climate change. This thesis also observes that the ENGOs are balancing on the thin boarder between setting agendas that do not threaten the state’s authority and agendas that can echo and gain credibility within a less climate change concerned Chinese society.