Project Introction
Prospects for high-legitimacy product carbon labelling for the People’s Republic of China
Published:2013-08-02 Hits:943

Research Team Leaders:Shiyi CHEN


Introduction and research objectives

Building on a long history of quality certification, multiple Sustainability oriented product labelling schemes have been implemented in the People’s Republic of China over the last decade. Following examples in Sweden, France, UK, Germany, Taiwan, Korea and the USA, there have been discussions to now add carbon labelling schemes into this plethora of product labelling schemes. Yet, research suggests a limited effectiveness of current Chinese Sustainability related product labelling schemes in their acceptance in Western markets as well as meeting their aim to target a rising Chinese consumer class. Before investments are made into the establishment of a carbon labelling scheme, this study therefore aims to investigate what facilitates and hinders the institutionalisation of already existing product labelling schemes in order to use these insights to reflect upon the potential institutionalisation of a carbon labelling scheme. 


Research Strategy Relation

Couched within the governance and behaviour theme, the study will shed important light on how China’s unique governance system, including the changing roles of Chinese consumers, businesses, NGOs, and governmental actors, shapes the institutionalisation of product labelling in general and carbon labelling in particular. In using these to evaluate how and to what extent carbon labelling as a potential new addition to the Chinese mitigation policy orchestra could be best implemented, this study makes important contributions to the academic as well as the policy making domain. In doing so, it is not only in line with Tyndall’s core aim to facilitate transdisciplinary work but by bringing together researchers from economics, organisational studies and political science also its interdisciplinarity aims. 



Building upon theories of institutional entrepreneurship and the concept of legitimacy, the study will mobilize case study research to examine the causalities behind the institutionalisation of existing Sustainability related product labelling schemes in China.  Empirically, the case studies will draw upon documentary analysis, in-depth interviews with influential advocates in the Chinese production and consumption system as well as quantitative surveys. 


International collaboration 

The study is a collaborative project between researchers at Tyndall Fudan (Fudan University, Shanghai, China) and the Sustainable Consumption Institute (The University of Manchester, UK). 


Research outputs

The research outputs are aimed to include several academic papers in high impact journals, such as the Journal for Cleaner Production, Global Environmental Change, Global Environmental Politics or the Journal of Environmental Management. The research findings will also be translated into concrete advice to actors involved in current and potential future product labelling schemes from the governmental, business and NGO sphere.