EUROPEAN FOREIGN POLICY SCORECARD 2015

Regional and global issues

51 - Relations with China on energy and climate change

Grade: B+
Unity 5/5
Resources 3/5
Outcome 6/10
Total 14/20
Scorecard 2010/11: B (7/20)
Scorecard 2012: B+ (15/20)
Scorecard 2013: B+ (15/20)
Scorecard 2014: B+ (14/20)

Ahead of the Paris climate conference in 2015, Europeans made efforts to engage China on climate change, but they still prioritise economic relations.

In 2014 Europeans redoubled their efforts to engage China on climate change. Alongside the European Commission, a number of member states raised the issue during bilateral visits – notably France, which will host the Paris climate conference in 2015, Germany, and the UK. This led to important though nonbinding statements of intention from China. For example, following Xi Jinping’s visit in March, the EU and China recognised the need to strengthen cooperation on climate change. In later statements, the EU-China Urbanisation Partnership was identified as a preferred mean of cooperation. (It should be noted, however, that climate was only one of 20 points included in the joint EU-China statement in March.)

Later, the EU and China reiterated their commitment to a successful outcome of the COP21 after Li Keqiang’s visit in October. However, economic and commercial issues were again higher up on the agenda. Moreover, even this progress was somewhat overshadowed by the China-US agreement on climate change, which was announced following the APEC meeting.

In October the EU made a unilateral commitment to very ambitious climate goals.

The EU also used multilateral forums to try to engage China on climate change. Following the UN climate change summit in New York in September, Xi, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and US President Barack Obama issued a joint statement in which they committed to working with the EU for a strong deal on climate change in Paris in 2015. At the UN climate summit, Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli reiterated China’s objective to cut carbon intensity by 40 to 45 percent of 2005 levels by 2020. He also said China’s carbon emissions would peak “as early as possible”. China’s increased willingness to engage and cooperate on climate issues may be influenced by a year of heavy pollution and growing environmental concerns at home.