The Chinese government has become another major player in the discussion of the EU’s Green Deal. The most important issue within the China and EU relationship is climate change. Countries are in a conundrum, having to denounce Chinese violations of human rights and intellectual property theft, whilst maintaining the need for cooperation in the context of fighting climate change. This dilemma leaves the EU in a difficult position because China is an essential part of the complex puzzle that is the Green Deal.
Is China becoming Greener?
Without China, the EU cannot achieve the goals expressed through the Green Deal. In The Geopolitics of the European Green Deal1, Mark Leonard explains (https://www-jstor-org.lib-ezproxy.concordia.ca/stable/pdf/resrep29130.pdf?ab_segments=0%2Fbasic_search_gsv2%2Fcontrol&refreqid=fastly-default%3A966cf9e52a61b4932ccb9ab8d14eaf88), “Responsibly greening the European economy thus implies greening the supply chains of which China is an essential part. Notwithstanding the green narrative of its leaders, China continues to operate 3,000 coal plants – more than in the US, the EU, Japan, Russia, and India combined – and has more than 2,000 in construction.” In other words, without the support of the Chinese government, efforts of the EU to minimize climate change will be merely a drop in a bucket.
Although China has no official detailed plan to address climate change, President Xi Jinping initiated many greener projects. For example, there have been attempts to transition from coal to renewable energy. Moreover, he even started the procedure to price carbon. In 2020, Xi Jinping announced a new objective of hitting carbon neutrality within the next forty years.
The main issue with China is their coal, which is used to fuel the power sector. China consumes over half of the world’s coal. These consumption habits oppose the intentions of the Green Deal which established an objective of zero tolerance for the continued usage of coal. The potential resolution of the reliance on coal remains an open question.
Much like other countries, China is attempting to start a national emissions trading scheme. This measure allows the government to issue permits to firms for their emissions. Furthermore, the government will limit the supply of permits allowing it to become part of the economic system of supply and demand. Although national trading scheme seems positive, many criticize the actual frequency to which it is applied in China and therefore, its overall efficiency.
The American Green New deal
The American Green Party has established its own Green New Deal.(https://gpus.org/organizing-tools/the-green-new-deal/) The project attempts to bring a holistic approach by transitioning the economy whilst pushing to minimize their carbon footprint. Some of the policies of the Green New Deal demand more investment in green businesses, incentivizing companies to become more environmentally friendly. Moreover, they propose to distribute greater funds towards renewable energy research.
The recent electoral loss of the 45th American president is welcomed by the proponents of the Green New Deal. Biden offers greater attention to climate issues and, as mentioned previously, has similar goals to the German Greens. The possibility of greater transatlantic cooperation is met with greater optimism since the defeat of President Trump. As Baerbcok, leader of the German Green party explains,
” I think there’s a chance ahead of us for both sides of the Atlantic, because with a new Biden administration you invest now from all what I’ve read and heard and see—investing really in a future of a carbon neutrality” (Baerbock, Interview transcript by Atlantic Council, May 6 2021)
Different countries have reacted differently to the consequences of greener policies. The development of global green efforts is ongoing and many issues remain. Mainly, the Eu and the United States must still contend with the dilemma of cooperating with the Chinese government to progress towards the goal of the Green Deal.
For more information:
- Mark Leonard, The Geopolitics of the European Green Deal, February 2021