The EU will urge China to cut greenhouse gases and cooperate on energy security as External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner heads to Beijing for talks on a new strategic partnership. External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner will launch negotiations on a comprehensive new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with China on 17 January 2007.
The pact will replace an outdated 1985 trade and economic pact. It will not only cover trade and economic ties – now worth hundreds of billions of euros per year – but also matters such as the environment, energy, security and counter-terrorism, political cooperation, agriculture, transport, customs, science and education (overview of the EU's China policies).
The focus on energy and climate change comes days after the EU launched its new, ambitious plan for an 'energy revolution' that must take the Union into a renewable, green and secure 21st century (earlier post). The plans call for EU members to endorse a 20% reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2020. Up till now, under the Kyoto Protocol the EU has committed to an 8% reduction by 2012. The EU knows it can't win the 'war against climate change' on its own, and is therefor determined to build a global coalition to tackle the challenge. A recent World Energy Outlook report by the Union shows the urgency of the development of a global low carbon economy (earlier post), a vision that begins to dawn on China too. The People's Republic published its first-ever national assessment on climate change just days ago, and its conclusions are grim (earlier post).
China's role in global warming
Within this context, Ferrero-Waldner will press China – currently the second largest emitter of carbon-dioxide behind the United States – to do more to cut greenhouse-gas emissions. "China is opening a new coal-fired power station every week and it's clear we can't achieve any of our objectives on emissions without China," a Commission spokeswoman said.
China has signed the Kyoto Protocol but is not tied by any legally binding emissions- reduction targets. The EU wants to draw all major emitters of greenhouse gases - including the United States, China and India - into a binding pollution-cutting scheme so as not to penalise its own industry against tough foreign competition.
European business associations have repeatedly criticised the EU for "going it alone" on climate change and putting the competitiveness of EU industries under excessive pressure.
The EU and China signed a Partnership Agreement on Climate Change in September 2005 aimed at developing "zero-emissions" coal plants in China, based on EU technology, and at promoting the development and democratisation of new energy technologies. Ferrero-Waldner wants to speed up the implementation of this agreement: "It is very important that we get results from it," she said.
Global energy security
China's great and increasing appetite for raw materials – including oil and coal – has pushed prices up and is fuelling concern about the long-term availability of energy sources. In new energy policy plans presented last week, the Commission said it hoped for co-operation, rather than competition, from China in securing future energy supplies. Over the coming days, we will be tracking the creation of this new strategic partnership as it relates to energy and climate change [entry ends here]
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