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18th Jan 2019

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EU and China to agree 'common approach' on climate

  • EU foreign policy chief Mogherini visited China, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases (Photo: European External Action Service)

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that she expects the EU and China to reach “a common approach” on the fight against climate change at the end of June.

“On climate change, let me say that the European Union appreciates very much the role that China has been playing and is playing”, Mogherini told reporters during her visit to China this week.

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She noted that China and the EU have a “common and joint responsibility” to make the climate summit in Paris, to be concluded in December this year, a success.

Leaders from all over the world will gather in the French capital to negotiate a binding international treaty that will limit the emission of greenhouse gases, and aim at slowing down the global warming of the planet.

Unlike previous attempts, which failed in Copenhagen in 2009, this time states are taking a bottom-up approach. Each country decides for itself what it sees as a fitting contribution.

The EU wants China, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, to also play its part. Under the previous international pact, the Kyoto treaty of 1997, China was still classified as a developing country. The EU is the third largest emitter, after China and the US.

Countries have been slow to announce their individual targets.

The EU had asked China and other G20 countries to present their climate goals by 31 March, but as of Thursday (7 May) the only countries that have done so are: the EU's 28 members, Switzerland, Norway, Mexico, US, Gabon, Russia, Liechtenstein, and Andorra.

“I am sure that the target that China will announce regarding the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 will send a positive message to the international community”, Mogherini said.

She made her remarks on Tuesday (5 May) after meeting with Chinese state councillor Yang Jiechi. China's five state councillors rank somewhere between deputy prime minister and minister.

According to an internal EU document, China has signalled it is “aiming to submit its [climate target] by June”.

One possible occasion for China to do it, would be shortly before or during an EU-China summit in Brussels, which according to Mogherini will be held “at the end of June”. A final date has not been set.

“I am also sure that at the summit we will be able to agree on a common approach which can contribute to the success of the negotiations in Paris and show a common stance of the European Union and China on this very important global issue”, noted Mogherini.

According to climate change news website RTCC, China and the EU are negotiating a joint climate agreement, including cooperation on their carbon markets and environmentally friendly technologies.

Last year, China held talks on climate change with the United States, and in November came out with a surprise climate deal. China announced its greenhouse gas emissions would peak in 2030, and then fall.

“Perhaps even before 2030”, Qian Bo, minister-counselor at the Chinese mission to the EU in Brussels, said at a recent event in the EU capital.

However, at that same event, Qian also cautioned “that China is a developing country”.

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EU and Chinese leaders will meet in Brussels on Monday, with the EU hoping for Chinese investment in its new growth fund as well as support for a global climate deal.

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