Policy briefing: EU-China climate engagement

Marc Craw examines the policies driving decarbonisation in the EU and China, and the synergies and gaps that are shaping their cooperation

The world sits at a critical juncture in the global fight to tackle climate change. While the United States reconsiders its position, the European Union (EU) and China have led the way in backing the 2015 Paris Agreement.

EU-China climate engagement
View the full report

The last year has seen landmark announcements on their respective plans to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 and 2060, and they are now due to update their 2030 targets in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) towards the Paris Agreement. Implementation of the European Green Deal and China’s upcoming 14th Five Year Plan (FYP) for 2021-25 will determine whether this transition is accelerated and sets a bar for global ambitions. Various factors have shaped convergence and divergence in EU–China relations in recent years.

While there have been commitments to climate cooperation, tensions over economic competitiveness, market access and human rights have also spilled over, and there is a risk that systemic rivalries as well as domestic interests in the post-coronavirus recovery could derail progress.

This policy briefing summarises the key policy drivers for decarbonisation in China and the EU, and analyses where synergies could enhance action and gaps could limit progress. Literature and official statements were reviewed, and several experts were interviewed to draw out the following recommendations