Monday

24th Apr 2017

China tells EU: 'Put pressure on US over climate, not developing countries'

  • China and the EU held "a very candid" exchange of views on climate (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

China's chief diplomat on climate action, Su Wei, has said that the European Union must "seize the time" and increase its climate ambition to a 30 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions.

"The EU should raise its target to 30 percent. It's achievable," Mr Su told reporters in Brussels on Monday (22 March) after he and a delegation of Chinese climate officials led by Xie Zhenhua, the vice minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, met with EU climate action commissioner Connie Hedegaard.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"This will prompt the US to raise its target. We understand that there are different views among the EU member states, but if the EU wants to continue its clear leadership, it must seize the time."

Mr Su said that the two sides had engaged in "a very candid exchange of views."

The Chinese diplomat also said that the bloc must put pressure on the US to embrace the Kyoto Protocol instead of on developing countries to abandon it:

"The EU can play an important role in pushing the US in the right direction. The EU should not decide to backtrack simply because the US is trying to. The EU must insist on on the US sticking to its obligations and then the US will be under pressure to step up its commitments."

He added that China "closely follows" European developments and is aware that there were different views among members states on moving up to a 30 percent reduction target, but that Beijing does not "want to see that because of economic considerations, the EU slows down its commitment."

He said that his government took note of the communication the bloc issued earlier this month: "Overall, we take a very welcoming attitude to the communication."

"The communication re-affirmed the principles of the Copenhagen Accord [the document produced during the UN climate summit in December] that developed countries take the lead in substantial reductions and adhering to their technical obligations."

But he insisted that the EU pass through the door first: "So long as these countries do so, we will be able to take positive steps in mitigation."

Nevertheless, taking care to praise as much as to damn, Mr Su said: "The EU's role in tackling climate change was widely recognised in the world before Copenhagen.

"China and the EU have many converging positions, interests."

Pessimism

In recent weeks, the EU has become increasingly pessimistic that an international agreement will be reached at the next UN climate summit in Cancun, Mexico, at the end of the year. Ms Hedegaard has said that such a deal is unlikely before the end of 2011, when the UN roadshow finally arrives in a so-called Basic country [the developing countries with the largest economies: Brazil, South Africa, India and China], at the climate summit in South Africa.

Mr Su also thought a deal in Cancun would be difficult, but that the obstacle was Washington, not poor countries: "The most crucial factor is the US. If at the time of the conference, it is obvious that they will not produce any legally binding reduction targets, then it is very difficult to preview that Cancun will achieve a comprehensive result."

"But I am not that pessimistic. We have just learnt that Congress passed the healthcare bill. Now there is time to focus on climate change."

He added that the EU's intense diplomatic outreach to bring together a 'coalition of the willing' to isolate its opponents in the UN is "the wrong strategy." Instead, the "EU can unite with all of the developing countries to tackle climate change and this will put pressure on the US."

Referring to a walk-out of UN talks by the African Union at a meeting last September in Bangkok and a second walk-out in Copenhagen, he said: "It seems that as regards the reality of the second phase [of the Kyoto Protocol], developed countries and the EU seem to be backpeddling, which gives rise to these problems."

"This is not a good strategy. Developing countries and the EU have a lot of goals in common."

Member states vary in EU 'polluter pays' rules

An EU directive aimed at supporting the "polluter pays principle" has resulted in a patchwork situation, but the European Commission is not yet ready to propose a change.

Analysis

EU transport sector has a CO2 problem

Although car manufacturers are reaching their CO2 targets for their fleets, car usage has gone up in Germany, while the gap between lab results and actual fuel consumption has increased.

Column / Crude World

Nord Stream 2: The elephant in the room

The European Commission should provide a thorough impact assessment of Nord Stream 2, a project that appears to go against all of its Energy Union objectives.

News in Brief

  1. Defeated Fillon retires from French politics
  2. Hollande: Vote Macron to avoid 'risk' for France
  3. Italy misses deadline on air quality warning
  4. Land mine kills OSCE observer in Ukraine
  5. Italy prosecutor claims NGOs are working with migrant smugglers
  6. Danish defence hacked by Russian cyberspies
  7. EU trade commissioner in US to pick up TTIP talks
  8. Juncker to meet Soros on Hungary next week

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  2. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  3. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  4. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  5. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  6. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  7. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region and the US: A Time of Warlike Rhetoric and Militarisation?
  9. European Free AllianceEFA MEPs Vote in Favor of European Parliament's Brexit Mandate
  10. Mission of China to the EUXinhua Insight: China to Open up Like Never Before
  11. World VisionViolence Becomes New Normal for Syrian Children
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsTime to Turn the Tide and End Repression of Central Asia's Civil Society

Latest News

  1. Le Pen-Poutine: des liens qui remontent à loin
  2. Juncker breaks tradition with support for Macron
  3. Les fake news inondent les réseaux sociaux français
  4. Les amis de Le Pen à la Trump Tower
  5. France's election run-off will be far-right versus EU
  6. Alternative for Germany party refuses to shun extreme right
  7. Brexit summit, Turkey and Hungary dominate EU This WEEK
  8. Russia threat triggers European military spending hike