In the past three years, engagement with China on climate change has become very technical in nature. Many sectoral/ city-level initiatives have been launched to provide lessons learnt or best practice guidelines. Despite the intensity of technical and policy exchange, the narrative has remained stagnant – that China has been investing in renewable energy and piloting new policies, but it remains difficult to move too fast.
With the new leadership in place, there is a window of opportunity to mobilise key constituencies in China vis-à-vis climate change through focusing on resource access and security. In 2007, the Changing Climates report argued that closer EU-China engagement on energy and climate change could yield unprecedented benefits as the two sides have similar, ambitious policies on efficiency and renewable energy and will be importing 80% of their oil by 2030. Their combined economic power could drive innovation as well as cost reduction in climate-friendly goods and services.
Five years on, even though this economic relationship is now the world’s second largest, collaborative inertia has often been overshadowed by disputes over trade and other economic disputes. Meanwhile, the global resource landscape has undergone major changes, with significant supply and political implications for China and the EU. With deepening interdependencies around energy supply and clean tech investment markets, it is critical to reinvigorate this bilateral relationship based on the new strategic realities. Renewed engagement at the EU-China level could act as a driving force for stronger decarbonisation targets, especially if key constituencies are brought into this vision of higher ambition.
Built on our ongoing work on shaping a more strategic EU-China relationship within the EU, E3G is working with Chatham House to build a joint EU-China vision around the Chinese strategic goals on energy and resource security as enunciated in 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in November 2012.
This project is funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)