China should rely more on G20 relations, clean sources for energy security, CIGI expert recommends

News Release

March 29, 2016

Waterloo, Ontario, Canada – China should rely more on multilateral relations, such as those forged at the G20, and ramp up its clean energy production to better manage its energy needs and address its environmental woes, according to a paper released today by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI).

Chinese action under the G20 framework would also contribute to a more efficient global energy governance system, says Alex He, a research fellow at CIGI and the author of a paper released today, “China and Global Energy Governance Under the G20 Framework.

Heavily reliant on imported oil and gas, China has traditionally preferred bilateral agreements -- such as deals with Russia and Central Asian countries -- to secure its energy supplies. But He suggests multilateral deals and a global energy governance system are better and more efficient because they rely on international markets and not geopolitical calculations associated with bilateral relations.

“The G20 is the perfect setting for China to engage on global energy governance,” says He. “It is a good way to appease doubt from Western countries concerning China’s motivation for acquiring global energy and to enhance China’s image on the international stage, improving relations with Western countries in the international energy market.”

China currently holds the presidency of G20, a premier forum for international economic cooperation that brings together 19 systemically important countries and the European Union. He’s CIGI paper recommends that China should take the opportunity to put energy governance -- clean energy governance in particular -- on the G2o’s list of top priorities.

China participates in the majority of global energy governance institutions but is still a non-member outsider of major institutions such as the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT).

“More active participation in global governance under the G20 could bring China huge advantages, with low economic and political costs. Most importantly, it provides an alternative to guarantee China’s energy security,” He says.

The paper argues that in a new era of international cooperation to tackle climate changes, China is already investing substantially in innovation and production of clean energy such as solar and wind power. But in a country that meets more than half of its energy needs through the use of coal, there is still a massive need to ramp up clean energy production. Multilateral engagements and international cooperation in clean energy innovation can help in that goal too, He notes.      


Andi Balla, Communications Specialist, Global Economy Program, CIGI
Tel: 519.885.2444 ext. 7205, Email: [email protected]  

The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) is an independent, non-partisan think tank on international governance. Led by experienced practitioners and distinguished academics, CIGI supports research, forms networks, advances policy debate and generates ideas for multilateral governance improvements. Conducting an active agenda of research, events and publications, CIGI’s interdisciplinary work includes collaboration with policy, business and academic communities around the world. CIGI was founded in 2001 by Jim Balsillie, then co-CEO of Research In Motion (BlackBerry), and collaborates with and gratefully acknowledges support from a number of strategic partners, in particular the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario. For more information, please visit


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