5th Mar 2024

Middle class pushing Chinese climate action, says EU commissioner

  • China and South Korea are planning EU-inspired carbon emission trading systems (Photo: European Parliament)

China has begun to rethink its environment policies due to pressure from a growing middle class, EU climate action commissioner Connie Hedegaard said during a visit in South Korea on Tuesday (3 May).

"I believe China has realised there is a limit to how much it can grow its economy without taking into consideration energy considerations, environmental considerations, air pollution, water quality, things like that," she said of the 80th biggest CO2 emitter per capita on the planet but the biggest carbon polluter overall.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

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

... or subscribe as a group

Citing Beijing's latest five-year plan, Hedegaard noted that the Asian giant has become the world's largest investor in green technologies and that it has introduced a carbon target "because they can see that it's necessary. But it's very much because they can see it benefits their own economy".

The country already has 50 percent of the world's global wind power market, she pointed out.

"In the end, it's also about social stability, because when China now has had some 400 million citizens entering the middle class, they also demand clean water and air their children can breathe, like others will do."

She said that Beijing has also drawn inspiration from what was initially "more or less a European thing" - the bloc's flagship climate policy, the emissions trading system - despite a recent security blunder which saw the whole system put on hold for months and commission data suggesting that the bulk of emissions reductions in Europe have resulted from fall out of the economic crisis rather than its cap-and-trade scheme.

The EU kicked off the world's largest market for greenhouse gases in 2005, capping emissions from some 11,000 power stations and industrial plants in 30 countries.

South Korea is also looking at a similar system and has unveiled a draft plan, aiming to get the market running between 2013 and 2015.

"Our counterparts recognise that all the experience Europe has gained for good and for worse, what to do, but also what not to do ... can be used so that others can move to the right solutions," Hedegaard told Reuters.

EU docks €32m in funding to UN Gaza agency pending audit

The European Commission will release €50m out of €82m in funds for the UN aid agency (UNRWA) operating in Gaza. The remaining €32m will come pending an audit. The commission has received no evidence to support Israeli allegations against UNRWA.

Russian oligarchs failed to get off EU blacklist

Hungary failed to get three Russian and three Chinese names deleted, as the EU approved its 13th package of sanctions ahead of an anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.


The macabre saga of Navalny's corpse

With Alexei Navalny's funeral in Moscow on Friday, Vladimir Putin's regime haven't just insulted his mother and widow with their treatment of his corpse — they've breached international treaties and conventions.

Latest News

  1. EU must overhaul Africa trade offer to parry China, warns MEP
  2. EU watchdog faults European Commission over Libya
  3. Hungary's Ukrainian refugees in two minds as relations sour
  4. The six-hour U-turn that saw the EU vote for austerity
  5. Defence, von der Leyen, women's rights, in focus This WEEK
  6. The farming lobby vs Europe's wolves
  7. EU socialists fight battle on two fronts in election campaign
  8. EU docks €32m in funding to UN Gaza agency pending audit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us