Sunday

20th Jan 2019

Focus

EU needs China to fight pollution and climate change

  • “We have a huge interest in Europe in an energy transition in China" (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

Chinese prime minister Li Keqiang's recent vow to combat pollution is among the most important developments in China for the EU, Ellis Mathews, head of the China division at the European External Action Service, has said.

Speaking at an event organised by the EU-Asia Centre in Brussels, Mathews was taking stock of EU-China relations, after the annual session of the National People's Congress in China, earlier this month.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

In a significant speech on 5 March at the session, China's PM Li called environmental pollution “a blight on people's quality of life and a trouble that weighs on their hearts”.

“We must strictly enforce environmental laws and regulations; crack down on those guilty of creating illegal emissions and ensure they pay a heavy price for such offences,” said Li, who also promised to promote electric vehicles.

Mathews highlighted the promise by Li to replace coal-fired power plants in areas that are heavily polluted, with alternative energy sources.

“We have a huge interest in Europe in an energy transition in China, mainly away from coal,” said Mathews.

Coal is the fossil fuel emitting the most greenhouse gases. China is responsible for just under a quarter of the world's emissions.

“The things that we want to do on a global level, especially on climate change, aren't going to be achievable without a strong EU-China, and indeed EU-China-US partnership,” said Mathews.

China has promised that by 2030, its emissions will have peaked. “Perhaps even before 2030”, said Qian Bo, minister-counselor at the Chinese mission to the EU in Brussels.

According to the International Energy Agency, 2014 was the first year in forty years in which the world's emissions from the energy sector did not grow while the economy did. The IEA attributed part of the halt to less burning of Chinese coal.

“We are committed to this goal,” said Qian, although he added that the world's expectations of China cannot be too high.

“We are quite aware that we have a special responsibility. But at the same time, you want to caution everybody, that China is a developing country. We need ... space for China to develop,” noted Qian.

Jo Leinen, a German centre-left member of the European Parliament, noted that he hoped that the Chinese governments' words were followed by actions.

“I'm a bit worried that the film Under the Dome ... disappeared,” he said, referring to a Chinese documentary on pollution, which was allowed to be circulated online for less than a week until censors banned it.

Qian refrained from commenting on what happened to the documentary.

“This is a very difficult question for me to answer. We are very serious in addressing the environmental issues,” he said.

US and China agree climate deal

The US and China on Wednesday announced an unexpected climate deal in a move that may ease European industry fears that the EU's climate goals are risking its competitive edge.

News in Brief

  1. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  2. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  3. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden
  4. Putin opposes EU prospects of Serbia and Kosovo
  5. Tsipras launches campaign to ratify Macedonia deal
  6. US-EU meeting in doubt after Trump cancels plane
  7. Germany and China to sign pact on finance cooperation
  8. Labour divided on second Brexit vote plan

Stakeholder

An open China brings opportunities to Europe

Some 60 years ago, the first major World Fair after World War II was held in Brussels. Sixty years on, China International Import Expo (CIIE), the first world expo dedicated to expanding imports, will open in Shanghai, China.

Supported by

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Aachen treaty and Brexit endgame This WEEK
  2. Germany led way on EU rights protection
  3. How to troll the European Parliament elections
  4. MEPs in Strasbourg: everywhere but the plenary
  5. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  6. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  7. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  8. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us