Why does China achieve most of its energy goals?

Chinese provinces map

Hypothesis: China tends to achieve in the energy and infrastructure sectors because it thinks carefully about how it will achieve a goal before committing to that goal. I know of only two strategies for reliably achieving goals:

1. “Sandbagging”: i.e., set really easy goals.

2. Bottom-up planning: consider in detail how you will go about achieving a goal before you commit. In particular, budget the resources needed to achieve the goal.

My thesis is that China does a lot more of #2 than typical Western democracies. Kyoto is an excellent example of setting goals with no plan. Those are meaningless goals – simply political gestures.

Please critique.

4 thoughts on “Why does China achieve most of its energy goals?

  1. hmmm…well, this is such a general statement here. Some goals China does achieve, some goals they don’t. Most of the time, China gets half-results, just like the US these days. China took a Machiavellian approach to controlling Tibet and Xinjiang by colonizing these regions, but it still didn’t work with the essentially daily revolts and protests. China attempted to injure the KMT (Nationalist Party) so as to leave them no capability to cause harm; however, because they allowed the US to protect them, the KMT are able to be an inconvenience to the CCP. There some positives and negatives, both, to acknowledge here.

    • Thanks for your comments. It is obvious that you know a great deal more about the workings of CCP than I. My speculation was directed at China’s energy performance. In that narrow domain how do you see CCP performance.

      I think I will amend the title and text of this post to make clear Wr are only talking energy and carbon.

  2. In the field of infrastructure projects, I think that this blog entry is pretty accurate. Especially the comparison to the USA, because, as far as I can tell, the USA doesn’t bother to do any meaningful infrastructure projects any more. Large swaths of the country are in danger of running short of drinkable water and we’re sitting on our hands, or dreaming up more stringent rationing programs rather than building a comprehensive network of aquaducts and desalination plants.

    Although, to be slightly less grim, California does have a desalination plant under construction in Carlsbad which is predicted to produce water at 3 times the cost that a similar Israeli plant produces desalinated water. Of course, the Israeli system is not amortizing the cost of eight years worth of legal fees and time wasted in court into the cost of their production facility.

    Because of intervenor laws in the USA, the cost of any important project is driven much higher than it would actually cost to just plan and build. This means that the value of an infrastructure improvement must be substantially greater than the base construction cost in order to be justified.

    Regarding Kyoto, not only was there no plan, but what they had was designed to fail. Nuclear electricity generators were explicitly excluded from qualifying for emission reduction credits. Nuclear electricity generation is the **only** form of energy production which produces meaningful CO2 reductions in the real world, for economies which wish to keep reliable electricity delivery as one of their qualities. Therefore, Kyoto can never work.

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