The EU and China developed bilateral dialogues on energy and environment. Difficult climate talks left some hope for a climate deal.
The EU supports China in moving to a low-carbon economy, tackling environmental problems and addressing climate change. Through dialogues on energy, environment, climate and urbanization, the EU contributes to raising awareness of China in those fields, while its incredibly high level of air pollution creates much domestic anxiety, but much less international outrage. In recent years China has launched several programmes on energy conservation, renewable energy development and climate change and put important energy and climate change targets in the twelfth Five-Year Plan. Learning from the European experience, China launched a pilot Carbon Emission Exchange in Shenzhen in June and later in several cities on the way to the establishment of the national emissions trading system in 2016.
At the EU-China Environmental Policy Dialogue in July, both sides agreed to enhance co-operation on such issues as biodiversity, chemicals, sustainable consumption and production, and air pollution. The EU and China also agreed to launch two new initiatives: the EU-China Sustainability Programme and the Environmental Forum to be convened every two years. Sustainable development became one of the four pillars of the “EU-China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation”.
The EU also seeks Chinese co-operation in working out a global climate change agreement. But in global climate talks European and Chinese positions often diverge. At the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw in November, they clashed above all on two issues. The first concerned the issue of “loss and damage” and the question of historical emissions, supported by China and rejected by the EU and other developed countries fearing automatic compensation in case of events related to climate change. The second concerned the form of the obligations to be submitted by parties. On this issue, the EU confronted China. In the agreed text in Warsaw, the word “commitments” was replaced with the much weaker “intended contributions”, an outcome that did not fully satisfy the EU.