By Robert Johnson
Collaboration between the European Union (EU) and China on climate change and clean energy is set to become “a main pillar” of their bilateral partnership, including in their economic relations, according to a joint statement.
Titled EU-China Leaders’ Statement on Climate Change and Clean Energy, the statement underlines their “highest political commitment to the effective implementation” of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
It emphasizes their “firm determination” to work with all stakeholders to tackle climate change, implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and promote low greenhouse gas (GHG) emission, climate-resilient and sustainable development globally.
The statement was released at the 20th Summit between the EU and China, which took place in Beijing on July 16, 2018 as part of a broader statement relating to EU-China engagement.
The Summit followed the High-level Strategic Dialogue, co-chaired by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini and Chinese State Counsellor, Wang Yi, in Brussels on June 1, 2018 and the High-level Economic and Trade Dialogue, co-chaired by Vice-President Jyrki Katainen and Chinese Vice-Premier, Liu He, in Beijing on June 25.
President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and President of the European Council Donald Tusk represented the European Union at the Summit. China was represented by Premier Li Keqiang.
European Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Katainen, Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, and Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc also attended the Summit. President Tusk and President Juncker also met with China’s President Xi Jinping.
The statement calls for a “decisive response” to the increasing impacts of climate change, acknowledges the growing stress climate change is exerting on ecosystems and infrastructure.
These are “threatening hard-won developmental gains,” cautions the statement, and points to the multiplying effect on social and political fragility of the climate change impacts on water and food, national security and the displacement of people.
The EU and China leaders highlight global low GHG emission and climate-resilient development as “irreversible,” calling the Paris Agreement “proof that with shared political will and mutual trust, multilateralism can succeed in building fair and effective solutions to the most critical global problems of our time.”
The statement also underscores that stepping up climate action will provide “significant opportunities for modernizing economies, enhancing competitiveness and ensuring socioeconomic benefits of increased clean energy access.”
It points to the rapid entry into force of the Paris Agreement as evidence of the international community’s “unwavering determination to confront this common challenge,” sending a “clear signal to industry and investors”. The EU and Chinese leaders note the importance of “upfront collaboration and continued cooperation” in multilateral forums, pointing specifically to the G20 and the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM).
The leaders reiterate their eagerness to work with both the Presidency of the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) to the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the COP 24 Presidency to prepare the ground for completing the Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP) at COP 24, highlighting their commitment to the development of a “comprehensive negotiating text,” and a “successful, constructive and inclusive 2018 Talanoa Dialogue.”
Talanoa is a traditional word used in Fiji and across the Pacific to reflect a process of inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue. During the process, participants build trust and advance knowledge through empathy and understanding. Blaming others and making critical observations are inconsistent with building mutual trust and respect, and therefore inconsistent with the Talanoa concept.
The Presidencies of COP22 and COP23 presented the outcome of their consultations on the dialogue and on this basis, made available the approach to the dialogue to all Parties. The COP welcomed with appreciation the design of the 2018 facilitative dialogue, to be known as the Talanoa Dialogue, and launched the dialogue, which started in January 2018.
On climate finance, the EU and China recall the obligation for developed countries to provide developing countries financial resources for both mitigation and adaptation, encouraging other countries to provide or continue to provide support voluntarily. The EU reiterates its full commitment to the US$100 billion goal, urging other developed countries to also “stand behind this collective goal.”
The statement underlines that the EU and China will further strengthen their bilateral cooperation in the following areas:
- Long-term low GHG emission development strategies, in which they will cooperate on the development of such strategies through regular technical dialogues, including mitigation and adaptation solutions, capacity building and climate legislation;
- Emissions trading, for which the two countries “strongly welcome” the launch of a new bilateral cooperation project which will further deepen exchanges on their respective experiences with the implementation and development of emissions trading;
- Energy efficiency, aiming to align labeling and performance requirements with international standards;
- Clean energy, in which they highlight large-scale utilization of renewable energy and options to meet the global power demand with “clean and green alternatives”;
- Low-carbon cities cooperation; and
- Low-emission transport, for which they agree to launch expert dialogues on fuel economy and CO2 emission standards for light and heavy duty vehicles, including on the deployment of low- and zero-emission vehicles.
The statement also envisages climate-related technology cooperation arguing that the EU and China recognize the global dimension of the technological and scientific collaboration, underlining the benefit of multilateral cooperation. They reaffirm their commitment to Mission Innovation and its aim to accelerate the clean energy transition.
They agree to enhance their collaboration on climate-related scientific research and cooperation on technology innovation, including the development and deployment of low greenhouse gas emission technologies such as carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), and adaptation solutions.
Investment in climate and clean energy projects is yet another aspect the statement stresses. Recognising the need for finance for climate and clean energy projects, the EU and China welcome the Memorandum of (MoU) Understanding signed by Chinese Ministry of Finance and European Investment Bank in 2016 – to broaden the scope of the EIB investment in China in sectors such as low greenhouse gas emission public transport, climate resilience, energy efficiency, renewable energy and forestry.
Cooperation with other developing countries is considered of great importance. According to the statement, the EU and China will explore possibilities for triangular cooperation on promoting sustainable energy access, energy efficiency and low greenhouse gas emission development in other developing countries and assist them to increase the capacities in combating climate change, with particular focus on least developed countries, small island developing states and African countries, as reflected in these countries’’ national climate plans, strategies and policies.
The European Commission President Juncker said, the Joint Statement “illustrates the breadth and depth of the EU-China relationship and the positive impact that such a partnership can have, in particular when it comes to addressing global and regional challenges such as climate change, common security threats, the promotion of multilateralism, and the promotion of open and fair trade.”
Juncker added: “Europe is China’s largest trading partner and China is our second largest. The trade in goods between us is worth over €1.5 billion every single day. But we also know that we can do so much more. This is why it is so important that today we have made progress on the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment through a first exchange of offers on market access, and towards an agreement on Geographical Indications. That shows that we want to create more opportunities for people in China and in Europe.”