UM Professor Publishes Book on China’s Evolving Climate Change Policy

December 04, 2015

MISSOULA – As representatives from nearly 200 countries and other organizations gather for the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, University of Montana political science Professor Peter Koehn has published a new book called “China Confronts Climate Change: A Bottom-up Perspective.”

As the world’s largest greenhouse-gas emitter, China will play a key role in any movement to stabilize global climate conditions so they are suitable for sustainable development, for its own population and the world. Koehn’s study shows that in China, as in the United States, impressive and often unrecognized steps to limit emissions are being taken at subnational levels. His book, published as part of the Routledge Advances in Climate Change Research series and available online at, also argues that more can – and must – be done. One promising strategy involves appeals to China’s citizen concerns about the health consequences of living in some of the worst urban air pollution conditions in the world.

Koehn’s book already has garnered praise from academics and policymakers. Dan Esty, the Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy at Yale University, writes that “‘China Confronts Climate Change’ digs beneath the surface of what many have perceived as China’s indifference to its huge greenhouse gas emissions – and finds a reality that is more complex.”

Zhihong Zhang, senior program coordinator of Climate Investment Funds at the World Bank Group, notes the book “provides a refreshing look at the non-state actors and subnational and transnational efforts and what a ‘bottom-up’ approach can offer in addressing climate change challenges.”  

The book’s grassroots insights likely will sustain interest because, as Center for Climate and Energy Solutions’ Ellie Ramm foresees in a Nov. 30 blog post, “long after the Paris talks have concluded, these actors will be crucial to building sustainable solutions to our climate and energy challenges.”

Along with his colleagues in UM’s Political Science Department, Koehn believes in sharing research findings on current issues of global importance with his students. This summer, he will teach a course, Sustainable Climate Policies: China and the United States, designed for undergraduate students in disciplines across campus.

“The steps taken or not taken by China and the United States will make a huge difference in terms of climate change,” Koehn said. “I’m eager to discuss the insights reported in my new book with concerned students this summer.”

Contact: Peter Koehn, UM political science professor, 406-243-5294,