“Environmental authoritarianism as a global model?
Opportunities and challenges”

15th November 2022

Speaker: Dr. Maria Bondes (Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg)

Poster Agorá Bondes

In view of the global environmental crisis and the failure of leading democratic states to effectively address the climate problem, there is much debate about whether authoritarian governance models – so-called “environmental authoritarianisms” – might be more appropriate to address the ecological crisis of our time in a timely manner. As part of its new self-confident foreign policy, China’s government under Xi Jinping is promoting China’s top-down environmental governance system and its vision of an “ecological civilisation” as a global model for a more sustainable future for our planet. The country presents itself on the international stage as a pioneer of global environmental and climate governance. At the same time, China is struggling domestically with a massive environmental crisis that threatens the legitimacy of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and is seen by some observers as the “Achilles’ heel of modern China”. Here, the Chinese leadership points to great successes in the fight against air pollution, progress in national climate and energy policy and China’s world-leading role in renewable energy. The lecture takes a critical look at China’s international ambitions and national successes in the environmental field and highlights the strengths and weaknesses of China’s top-down environmental governance system. On this basis, it will discuss to what extent China’s “environmental authoritarianism” could be a global model to address the ecological crisis of our time.

Dr. Maria Bondes is a sinologist and Research Fellow at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, where she teaches in the elite interdisciplinary Master’s programme “Standards of Decision-Making Across Cultures” with a focus on East Asia. She researches public participation, environmental governance and the digital transformation in China, where she has been a visiting scholar at the China Center for Comparative Politics and Economics in Beijing on several occasions. Previously, she was a research fellow at the GIGA Institute of Asian Studies in Hamburg and a visiting lecturer at the Institute of Chinese Studies at the Free University of Berlin.