Monday

10th May 2021

EU climate chief hails Chinese five-year plan

Europe's top climate official has welcomed a series of environmental measures in China's latest five-year plan, a document that also charts rapid nuclear energy expansion in the earthquake-prone country.

A greater emphasis on energy efficiency and clean energies, together with plans to gradually implement a carbon-market mechanism, were among the positive elements singled out by EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard on Tuesday (15 March).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"China's clean energy drive proves that in order to keep our leading position in the green growth race, Europe must invest now in clean technologies," she said in a statement.

China is currently the world's largest energy user and also biggest carbon emitter. Despite huge advances in developing its renewable energy sector, experts predict the vast programme to build hydro, nuclear, wind and solar power stations will probably reduce the proportion of electricity China generates from coal, but not the amount.

Events in Japan have also cast a shadow over Beijing's nuclear energy drive, clearly outlined in the latest five-year plan approved by the roughly 3,000 delegates to China's National People's Congress on Monday.

At present there are some 440 nuclear power reactors operating in 31 countries across the globe. Added to that, roughly 60 power reactors are currently being constructed in 16 countries, with China leading the pack with an estimated 27 reactors under construction.

Recent Chinese earthquakes include last year's in southern Qinghai where roughly 3,000 people lost their lives. A larger earthquake in eastern Sichuan in 2008 killed some 87,000 people.

A meeting of EU member states officials in Brussels on Tuesday decided that the region's nuclear plants should undergo a series of tests to assess their ability to withstand high-stress conditions produced by factors such as earthquakes, flooding, or power cuts.

Several EU countries and China have indicated however that events in Japan will not interrupt their nuclear plans.

As well as the new nuclear headache, Chinese officials have also had to contend with a series of small-scale pro-democracy protests, inspired by events in the Arab world. So far, online calls for Chinese citizens to take part in Sunday city-centre 'strolls' have elicited far more police than citizens calling for reform.

"In China, there is no visibly corrupt government that protestors can concentrate on, at least not at the national level," one senior official in the EU's external action service recently told this website on condition of anonymity, adding that Chinese citizens were generally content with the country's high rate of growth.

The new plan sets an average annual growth rate for the next five years of about seven per cent of GDP, lower than previous years. Distribution is also very uneven.

"Now the Chinese economy has become the second largest in the world, but at the same time we are also fully aware that China remains a developing country with a large population, weak economic foundation and uneven development," Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told a press conference on Monday.

Wen said the government would stick to its gradual development of "socialist democracy".

"It needs to be taken forward in an orderly way under the leadership of the [Communist] Party."

China urges Germany and France to solve euro-crisis

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao on Thursday offered vague promises to buy bonds from troubled euro-countries, but said that it is ultimately up to Germany and France to solve the crisis.

MEPs and China mark change in relationship

Members of the five big political groups in the European Parliament have met with members of the one big political group in the National People's Congress of China, in what has been described as a “changing” and "very friendly" climate.

News in Brief

  1. Report: Czech minister plotted to bury evidence on Russian attack
  2. Putin promotes Russia's 'Kalashnikov-like' vaccine
  3. Coronavirus: Indian variant clusters found across England
  4. UN report encourages EU methane cuts
  5. EU court upholds ban on bee-harming pesticides
  6. Israeli tourists welcomed back by EU
  7. EU duped into funding terrorist group, Israel says
  8. Brussels prepares portfolio of potential Covid-19 treatments

EU now 'open' to vaccine waiver, after Biden U-turn

The European Union is now ready to discuss the proposal to waive temporarily intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines - following the historic decision by Washington in favour of easing patent rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. EU ambassadors flock to Red Square for Putin's parade
  2. MEPs win battle for bigger citizens' voice at Conference
  3. Hungary gags EU ministers on China
  4. Poland and Hungary push back on 'gender equality' pre-summit
  5. EU preparing to send soldiers to Mozambique
  6. EU now 'open' to vaccine waiver, after Biden U-turn
  7. EU mulls using new 'peace' fund to help Libyan coast guard
  8. Poland 'breaks EU law' over judges, EU court opinion says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us