Titans of the Climate

From American and Comparative Environmental Policy

Titans of the Climate

Explaining Policy Process in the United States and China

By Kelly Sims Gallagher and Xiaowei Xuan

Foreword by John P. Holdren and Junkuo Zhang

How the planet's two largest greenhouse gas emitters navigate climate policy.





How the planet's two largest greenhouse gas emitters navigate climate policy.

The United States and China together account for a disproportionate 45 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. In 2014, then-President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced complementary efforts to limit emissions, paving the way for the Paris Agreement. And yet, with President Trump's planned withdrawal from the Paris accords and Xi's consolidation of power—as well as mutual mistrust fueled by misunderstanding—the climate future is uncertain. In Titans of the Climate, Kelly Sims Gallagher and Xiaowei Xuan examine how the planet's two largest greenhouse gas emitters develop and implement climate policy. Through dispassionate analysis, the authors aim to help readers understand the challenges, constraints, and opportunities in each country.

Gallagher—a former U.S. climate policymaker—and Xuan—a member of a Chinese policy think tank—describe the specific drivers—political, economic, and social—of climate policies in both countries and map the differences between policy outcomes. They characterize the U.S. approach as “deliberative incrementalism”; the Chinese, meanwhile, engage in “strategic pragmatism.” Comparing the policy processes of the two countries, Gallagher and Xuan make the case that if each country understands more about the other's goals and constraints, climate policy cooperation is more likely to succeed.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262038751 272 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 10 b&w illus.


$28.00 X ISBN: 9780262535847 272 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 10 b&w illus.


John P. Holdren and Junkuo Zhang.


  • Titans attempts, and succeeds admirably, in distilling an incredibly complex subject with a vast array of actors, in a way that makes it all more understandable.

    Energy Reporters


  • This timely book illuminates the stakes of America and China's climate policies: the superpower polluters must find a way to live together to avoid dying together.

    Graham Allison

    Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School; former Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

  • An insightful analysis of climate change efforts in the United States and China: domestically determined, internationally collaborative, globally decisive.

    Christiana Figueres

    former Executive Secretary, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

  • This book could not have come out at a better time! By providing a penetrating and balanced analysis of the climate policy processes in the United States and China, it not only tells the story of the specific drivers and processes on climate policy, but also presents realistic pictures of the two countries' policymaking systems and policy dynamics—a critically important corrective to mutual misunderstanding and mistrust if we are to avoid grave consequences.

    Lan Xue

    Professor and Dean, School of Public Policy and Management, and Dean, Schwarzman College, Tsinghua University