Will China-EU cooperation on climate change open up new prospects?
Published: Jul 15, 2021 09:31 PM
File photo

File photo

The European Union and China this week both presented sweeping plans to limit greenhouse-gas emissions. As the two sides increase their efforts to promote green and sustainable development, working together to tackle climate change can become a highlight within China-EU cooperation.

The EU on Wednesday proposed a broad economic overhaul that would sharply cut the bloc's reliance on fossil fuels, The Wall Street Journal reported. The Shanghai Environment and Energy Exchange (SEEE) announced on Thursday that China's national carbon emissions trading market will commence trading on Friday. 

China and the EU have maintained friendly cooperation on the issue of climate change for a long time, both committing to creating a high-quality green and low-carbon development models. In this field, China-EU cooperation has broad prospects in the future, and both sides should continue to meet each other halfway in fields including energy transition, carbon emission trading system, scientific research and innovation, and green finance and other fields.

In international climate negotiation, even as the US once withdrew from the Pairs Agreement, China and EU have maintained positive cooperation, jointly leading the direction of international cooperation on climate issues. At the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26) to the UNFCCC to be held in Scotland in this November, China and the EU should continue to promote the establishment of multilateral mechanisms and promote more global consensus and joint actions to address climate change.

In energy and economy transition, given the complementary relationship China and EU have in technology and capacity in clean energy and green economy, China and EU share common goal and have broad space for cooperation. In industries such as photovoltaics, China has built a leading global production capacity. In terms of new technologies, new ideas, and policy measures, EU has achieved unique advantages. At the China-EU High-level Forum on Green Cooperation in last November, Chinese and European senior officials held in-depth discussions on China and Europe's vision and actions to tackle climate change.

In addressing a carbon emissions trading market, in 2017, the two sides launched a three-year China-European carbon market dialogue and cooperation project to continue to consolidate bilateral cooperation and support national carbon market capacity building. Now China is about to launch the world's largest carbon trading platform, and the two parties are expected to further deepen their cooperation in the future.

Admittedly, China and EU have some notably differences in approach when it comes to future cooperation on climate change. The carbon border taxes proposal in EU's new plan has attracted wide attention this week. Before the idea put into effect, the potential impact on other countries need to be further discussed. The EU's measure to promote global consensus should be negotiated to meet the needs of most members of the international community, and should not be a unilateral action based on the EU's own standards.

The author is director of the Department of European Studies, China Institute of International Studies.