China, EU reaffirm Paris climate commitment, vow more cooperation

Following President Donald Trump’s decision last year to withdraw the United States from the agreement, China and the European Union have emerged as the biggest champions of the 2015 accord, which aims to keep global temperature increases to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius. [Claire Stam]

China and the European Union on Monday reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris climate change pact and called other signatories to do the same, saying action against rising global temperatures had become more important than ever.

Following President Donald Trump’s decision last year to withdraw the United States from the agreement, China and the European Union have emerged as the biggest champions of the 2015 accord, which aims to keep global temperature increases to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius.

In a joint communique on Monday, the two sides stopped short of criticising the United States, but said the deal proved that “multilateralism can succeed in building fair and effective solutions to the most critical global problems of our time.”

The two sides said they remained committed to creating a mechanism to transfer $100 billion a year from richer to poorer nations to help them adapt to climate change. The fund has been a major bone of contention for the United States.

They also promised to work closely together to promote an effective solution to the problem of aviation and shipping emissions, and consider further ways to cooperate in carbon emissions trading.

Brussels hails UN deal to halve shipping emissions by 2050

Over 170 countries reached agreement on Friday (13 April) to reduce CO2 emissions from shipping by “at least” 50% on 2008 levels by 2050, ending years of slow progress.

Key message ahead of COP24

Jo Leinen, Member of the European Parliament (Social Democrats, Germany), Chair of China delegation said that the joint commitment by the EU and China is a vital message ahead of this year’s climate summit in Poland.

“They need to show their responsibility not only through words and handshake but through strong actions and concrete emission reductions. Both the EU and China need to be constructive in finalising the Paris rulebook. They need to promote the implementation of the Climate Accord at negotiation level just as actively as at political level,” he said in a statement while pointing out that the joint statement will motivate others to follow.

“The EU-China alliance should become a broader coalition of governments and non-state actors that take climate action forward. EU and China can benefit from deeper cooperation on clean energy and emission trading,” the MEP said.

Commenting on the joint declaration, Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe said that this statement is an important milestone to ensure the urgently needed substantial increase in global climate action.

“Building on the overachievement of their existing targets, and the momentum in the EU in support of going well beyond the Paris pledge increased cooperation on climate action between the EU and China can propel the global zero carbon transition. We call upon the two countries to put their statements into action and scale up their respective Paris climate pledges in order to be able to reach the long-term commitment of the Paris Agreement to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C,” he said.

Li Shuo, Senior Climate Policy Advisor at Greenpeace China said that the initiative reaffirms the resolve of Beijing and Brussels to take the Paris Agreement forward in this crucial year for climate diplomacy.

“What gets the pair together isn’t just Trump – China and the EU understand the opportunities offered by a clean and climate safe world,” he said.

As climate impacts start to bite across the world, the need to act on climate change is more urgent than ever, Li Shuo also stressed.

“To demonstrate their alignment is more than just a marriage of convenience and to show a genuine will to lead, both sides must enhance their climate targets for 2030. Today should be the first step in that direction,” he said.

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