The EU and China, meeting as a summit on Thursday and Friday in Brussels, stand ready to defend the Paris agreement on combating climate change, at a time when US President Donald Trump is continuing the suspense on a possible withdrawal of the US from the multinational agreement.
During the Obama era, Washington and Beijing stood side by side as the pillars for the signing of the agreement in December 2015, in which 196 countries under the auspices of the United Nations pledged to limit global warming Temperatures and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
On Friday in Brussels, China will be on the side of the EU for a joint declaration against US delays in order to “confirm their commitments to the historic agreement” of Paris and “accelerate their cooperation to improve its implementation”, according to a Draft declaration made public by both parties’ officials.
The EU and China “are determined to make progress on policies and measures” necessary for the “concrete” implementation of the commitments made under the Paris agreement, the document said.
Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement was announced Wednesday by several US media, but in a tweet Wednesday he promised an announcement “in the next few days.”
The withdrawal of the United States, one of the biggest polluters in the world, would be a real blow to the fight against climate change, only a year and a half after the euphoria created by the Paris agreement.
Maros Sefcovic, Vice-President of the European Commission for Energy, said Wednesday that he was well aware of these persistent “rumors”. “We already feel that there are strong expectations from our partners in the world, in Africa, Asia and China, for Europe to provide leadership in this endeavor,” Sefcovic said.
“Europe is ready to lead the movement, and we will certainly do it,” he said, saying that it would not be “the end of humanity” if the United States withdrew.
On Twitter, his colleague in charge of Action for Climate, Miguel Arias Canete, negotiator for the EU in Paris in December 2015, also assured that the Union would hold its rank.
“The world can count on Europe to maintain global leadership on climate. Together we will support Paris, we will defend Paris,” added Mr. Canete.
For both the EU and China, the drive to reduce emissions of gases responsible for climate change is “irreversible”.
A European source told Jounalists that the EU has been working on a rapprochement with China on the issue since COP22 in November in Marrakech, Morocco.
Since taking office, Donald Trump has shown his willingness to support fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas) in the name of employment protection. For the Europeans as for the Chinese, energy transition is a source of growth. “I believe that we have clearly demonstrated in Europe that the use of cleaner technologies and the increase in the production of renewable energies is economically meaningful,” said Sefcovic.
“The violent and rapid reaction of the United States to climate policy requires thorough leadership from all other countries,” said Li Shuo of Greenpeace East Asia at a conference on Wednesday with the NGO Climate Action Network CAN). “By listening to each other, instead of speaking from afar, the pair (EU-China) has the potential to become the new engine of international climate diplomacy. To demonstrate that they can truly lead the way, Accelerate their domestic measures,” added the representative of Greenpeace.