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New impetus for Sino-EU green cooperation

By Jia Ruixia | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-27 07:14


The COP28, held recently in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, reached the UAE Consensus on finance, adaptation, mitigation, a "Loss and Damage Fund", and the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Fossil fuel was a vital issue at the COP28, with most parties disagreeing on how and when to phase out its use. As part of the final results of the COP28(or the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), the parties were urged to transition "away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science".

Despite the disagreements over ending the use of fossil fuels, however, the vast majority of countries have reached consensuses on phasing out fossil fuels, charting a new path to better global green development governance. This is an area in which China and the European Union have common interests and high cooperation potential.

China has been promoting green development and harmonious coexistence between humans and nature, and making green, circular and low-carbon development an inherent requirement for promoting China's high-quality development, and peaking its carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality before 2060.

At the end of 2019, the European Commission formulated and adopted the European Green Deal to cope with climate change and promote sustainable development, accelerating the EU's green transition.

On Nov 24, 2023, the China-France Carbon Neutrality Center was officially launched to facilitate the green transition of the two countries. And on Dec 7, 2023, at the 24th China-EU Summit, both sides reaffirmed their commitments to strengthen dialogue and cooperation in such areas as trade, the green economy and the digital economy. They also agreed to work together to maintain the stability and security of the industry and supply chains, and deepen cooperation on climate change, artificial intelligence and other major global issues.

One of the biggest takeaways from the summit was that China and the EU will continue their cooperation in some key fields in order to achieve net zero emissions. China is now the global leader in new energy vehicles, and it has built the world's largest carbon market and clean power generation system, with high hydropower, wind power, solar power, biomass power generation capacity.

As such, China and the EU can build an open and collaborative green technology cooperation chain to reduce the cost of renewable energy while helping other countries, including developing countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, to make more stable and proper energy transitions.

In addition, there is room for cooperation between the two sides in green technologies, which would reduce the use of plastic and better protect natural resources such as the oceans and forests, and help more countries achieve net-zero emissions.

Given the trend of innovations through the fusion of artificial intelligence and other smart technologies, China and the EU have huge partnership potential in emerging industries such as cloud computing, visual image segmentation technology, electric vehicles, energy saving, emissions reduction technologies, construction, transportation and chemical industries.

China and the EU have accumulated lots of experience through years of cooperation in smart city construction and city-to-city relations, and should share their experience of building green cities and rural areas with other economies so they could learn from them and take practical measures to improve people's lives and living conditions.

Moreover, despite a few breakthroughs, the UAE Consensus needs a clear implementation path. In fact, the developed countries need to take the lead in implementing the UAE Consensus, including providing funds and technical support to the most vulnerable developing countries to achieve the consensus's goals.

As for the Loss and Damage Fund, while the historic decision on the fund has been welcomed, this is but the first step, and success will depend on how quickly this fund gets off the ground. The representatives of 24 countries will work together through next year to decide what form the fund should take, which countries should contribute, and which countries should receive the funds and how. Also, the current $700 million fund can hardly make up for the trillions of dollars in losses and damage climate change, including extreme events, has caused.

Besides, the COP28 recognized nuclear energy as "green energy" for the first time, but doubts over nuclear security and the fear of nuclear energy being used by militaries, let alone terrorists, remains a huge threat to peace, especially in the current turbulent international situation.

By working together to reduce the deficit in global climate governance, which in turn can strengthen the 20-year-old China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership, the two sides can truly uphold multilateralism.

The author is an associate professor at the Institute of European Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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