Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Contesting authority: China and the new landscape of power sector governance in the developing world
by Hannam, Phillip Matthew, Ph.D., Princeton University, 2016, 419; 10240338
Abstract (Summary)

Two co-constructed trends threaten to complicate global efforts to manage climate change. Electric power in developing countries is becoming more coal-intensive, while the international institutions capable of assisting lower-carbon growth paths are having their authority challenged by an emergent set of institutions under China’s leadership. In the last decade Chinese firms and state banks have become central players in power sector development across the developing world; China has been involved in over sixty percent of Africa’s hydropower capacity and is the single largest exporter of coal power plants globally. Statistical and qualitative evidence suggests that China’s growing role in these power markets has contributed to re-prioritization of the power sector in U.S. bilateral development assistance, complicated negotiation and implementation of coal power finance rules among OECD export credit agencies, and influenced where the World Bank chooses to build hydropower projects. The thesis establishes a framework for understanding responses to discord in development governance by drawing inductively on these contemporary cases. Competition between established and emerging actors increases with two variables: 1) conflicting ideological, commercial and diplomatic goals (difference in interests); and 2) the degree to which the emerging actor challenges rules and norms upheld by the established actor (contested authority). Competitive policy adjustment – one actor seeking to undermine or diminish the other’s pursuit of its objectives – has been historically commonplace when an emerging actor challenged an established actor in the regime for development assistance. China’s growing authority in global power sector assistance has prompted competitive policy adjustment among established donors while also enabling recipient countries to leverage donors and better direct their own development pathways. The thesis shows that although contested authority increases development sovereignty among recipients, it can cause backsliding on safeguards and rules among established donors with consequences for power sector outcomes, making fragile movement away from carbon-intensive development even more tenuous. By characterizing this new and uncertain landscape of power sector governance, the thesis contributes to theorization on discord in international governance and to policy development for mitigating climate change.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Oppenheimer, Michael, Keohane, Robert O.
Commitee: Hultman, Nathan, Levin, Simon A., Socolow, Robert H.
School: Princeton University
Department: Public and International Affairs
School Location: United States -- New Jersey
Source: DAI-A 78/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Climate Change, International Relations, Energy
Keywords: China, Climate policy, Coal power, Development institutions, Geopolitics, Governance
Publication Number: 10240338
ISBN: 9781369378153
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