As trump mulls leaving Paris climate deal, China and EU discuss alliance

Beijing and Brussels plan to set up new alliance to reduce global carbon emissions • EU climate commissioner: ‘Now is the time to further strengthen these ties’

1 June 2017, 8:26am
A document drawn up between the EU and China reaffirms funding commitments and promises to bring forward new mid-century greenhouse gas reduction targets.
A document drawn up between the EU and China reaffirms funding commitments and promises to bring forward new mid-century greenhouse gas reduction targets.
China and the EU will forge an alliance to take a leading role in tackling climate change in response to Donald Trump’s expected decision to pull the US out of the historic Paris agreement.

Trump tweeted on Wednesday night that he would announce his decision at 3pm ET on Thursday at the White House and there are fears that will he confirm reports thatthe US will soon join Nicaragua and Syria on the small list of countries refusing to back the climate accord, signed in 2015.

But Beijing and Brussels have been preparing to announce their intention to accelerate joint efforts to reduce global carbon emissions.

According to a statement being prepared before an EU-China summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, the new alliance will say they are determined to “lead the energy transition” toward a low-carbon economy.

The EU’s climate commissioner, Miguel Arias Cañete, told the Guardian: “The EU and China are joining forces to forge ahead on the implementation of the Paris agreement and accelerate the global transition to clean energy.”

Cañete continued: “No one should be left behind, but the EU and China have decided to move forward. Our successful cooperation on issues like emissions trading and clean technologies are bearing fruit. Now is the time to further strengthen these ties to keep the wheels turning for ambitious global climate action.”

In their declaration, Brussels and Beijing will also call on all parties “to uphold the Paris agreement” and signal their “highest political commitment” to doing so themselves.

The document describes climate change as a national security issue” and “multiplying factor of social and political fragility”. The Paris pact is a “historic achievement” and “irreversible”, the document says.

In a bid to calm jangling nerves in the developing world, the document reaffirms funding commitments and promises to bring forward new mid-century greenhouse gas reduction targets. The two blocs will also launch their first ever clean-energy cooperation, as well as measures on energy efficiency, low-emissions transport and low-carbon cooperation between cities.

“The EU-China agreement on the full implementation on international commitments under the Paris agreement becomes even more important,” one EU source said.

A senior EU official said there was a steely determination that the Paris agreement would not be allowed to unravel, having formally come into force last November. “This is not the end of the world,” she said.

It is hoped that the opposition for action on climate change in the White House will not be matched at the state level, where programmes are already in place and where there is a political will to defy the Washington line.