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Setting the agenda. Chinese NGOs: scope for action on climate change

The Chinese state and society are frequently engaged in an area of shared concern: the increasing threat of climate change. This report explores how a specific set of societal actors – environmental non-governmental organisations (ENGOs) in China – interact with state actors in dealing with issues of climate change mitigation. Drawing on two case studies of Chinese ENGOs, China Civil Climate Action Network (C-CAN) and China Youth Climate Action Network (CYCAN), this report sheds light on how societal corporatist mechanisms and state corporatist mechanisms are evident in the ENGOs’ agendas. It asks to what extent Chinese ENGOs can set and pursue their own agendas, and to what extent it is the state or other factors that determines those agendas for them. Throughout the report examples of how state corporate mechanisms are still evident for social organisations’ expansion, legitimacy and credibility in China are given. It further shows that the growth of societal corporate mechanism that target combating climate change is gaining a stronger foothold and withhold the ENGOs’ political interaction possibilities, especially through the media, financial independence and international climate change negotiations. Furthermore, the report contributes to research on the autonomy for Chinese ENGOs and elucidates how they are balancing on the thin border 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.