On Monday (June 29) European Union and China adopted a joint statement to tackle climate change. This document represents the last stage of a collaboration on climate change, which dates back to 2005. Additionally, it paves the way for achieving further bilateral and multilateral cooperation agreements in the field of sustainable economic and social development.
The joint declaration was issued after the visit of the Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang to the Union to celebrate the 40th anniversary of EU-China diplomatic relations. Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, chaired this 17th bilateral summit between the two parties. He represented the EU together with the president of the European Commission Jean Claude Junker.
European Union and China acknowledged the importance of cooperating in the uphill battle against global climate change. According to the joint pledge, the parties aim at developing a cost-effective low-carbon economy without obstructing their economic growth paths. The two countries explicitly reaffirmed their pledges to implement the United Nations Framework on Climate Change. To achieve this target, both sides committed themselves to work on “an ambitious and legally binding agreement at the Paris Climate Conference 2015 (…) on the basis of equity and reflecting the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities”.
Parties also reached consensus to finance mitigation and adaptation projects in developing countries. More precisely, both sides reaffirmed that industrialized countries must fulfil their pledge to jointly mobilise $100 bln per year by 2020 to finance low-carbon and climate-resilient economies and societies. Furthermore, EU and China decided to develop additional cooperation on carbon markets, expanding the existing joint emission trading capacity building project. On the same line, the two countries planned to launch a EU-China Low-Carbon Cities Partnership. In the end, both sides committed themselves to enhance their partnership on climate-related scientific research and technology innovation.
This joint declaration marks a crucial step in the battle against climate change. First of all, the document strengthens the individual commitments recently undertaken by China and EU. China also recognized the urgency of establishing a sustainable growth path and curb domestic pollution. According to RTCC, the Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang affirmed that “this year is critical in terms of global climate change governance”, anticipating the pledge to reduce carbon emissions beyond 2020 that China will unveil soon [Update 01.06.2015: China officially submitted its INDC on Tuesday, June 30, including a new target to reduce carbon intensity by 60-65% of 2005 levels by 2030].
The document released to the public by the parties acquires further relevance given the fact that China is world’s largest emitter. According to Elina Bardram, the European Commission chief negotiator, “G-20 nations alone account for 75 percent of global emissions, and China is one-third of that”. Consequently, the EU-China joint pledge could play a crucial role in building momentum for the COP21 conference. In contrast with the UN 2009 summit in Copenhagen, a strong Chinese commitment might facilitate the achievement of an ambitious Paris deal.
(Image: EU-China Summit 2015. From left to right: Mr Jean-Claude Junker, President of the European Commission; Mr Li Keqiang, Prime Minister of China; Mr Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, June 2015. Photo credit: European External Action Service/Flickr)