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China-EU green cooperation fosters ecological conservation

Author  :  CHEN SIYANG     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2022-12-17

As vital international forces, China and the European Union (EU) bear great responsibilities for leading global cooperation on climate, energy, and the environment. The high-quality “green” cooperation between China and the EU is not only a supporting force for the steady development of the global economy, but also creates favorable conditions for the two sides to accelerate the green and low-carbon transition, and can provide support for eco-conservation.

EU’s green development drive

The EU started out early in green development and has played an exemplary role. The continued climate deterioration and profound changes in the international configuration have added new impetus to the development of the EU’s green economy and related technologies. First, the EU’s investment in green innovation research and development is substantial, and its position as a global sci-tech leader is well established. Second, the eco-environment continues to deteriorate, necessitating an urgent low-carbon transition. Third, the state of global energy is complex and serious, making a green transition an inevitable trend.

Solid cooperation foundation

The solid foundation in green cooperation between China and the EU has laid the seeds for beneficial future cooperation.

First, the conception of green development is highly consistent between China and the EU; both sides share many common visions. China’s concept of green development emphasizes the harmony between man and nature, the seeking of global eco-conservation, and constant efforts towards carbon peaking and carbon neutrality. The EU also stresses a green transition and a commitment to achieving carbon neutrality.

Second, high-level dialogues between the two sides have led to the gradual deepening of green cooperation. For instance, the EU-China “High-level Environment and Climate Dialogue,” which has been held for three years consecutively, has stressed that both parties should continue to lead global cooperation on climate change and biodiversity, and has given direction to both sides to deepen cooperation in related fields.

Third, respective advantages of China and the EU are highly complementary and stimulate momentum for further green cooperation. The EU enjoys strengths in sci-tech research and development, while China has more complete technologies and experience in large-scale production. In addition, digital technologies such as 5G and AI provide China with significant advantages. The differentiated advantages of China and the EU have brought infinite potential for bilateral cooperation.

Optimizing green cooperation

Ecological issues are global issues, and as a major, open country, China actively participates in global governance to address global climate change. China and the EU should give full play to the advantages of a sound foundation to optimize green cooperation in the following areas.

First, the strategic interaction between eco-conservation and the European Green Deal should be strengthened. China should start by strengthening its ability to interpret and communicate ideas so that the EU can better understand China’s resolve in making a green transition. Meanwhile, existing platforms should be leveraged as multilateral mechanisms to carry out strategic interactions.

Second, cooperative research and development should be strengthened and the application and promotion of green technologies should be accelerated. The EU has a leading position in green sic-tech and R&D, and China can use the strong complementarities of the green industries of both sides to achieve a mutually beneficial goal of “learning from each other’s strengths.” China can formulate preferential policies, encourage cooperation in green R&D between the two sides, further promote the application of green technologies in enterprises, and accelerate the elimination of polluting industries and the green upgrading of other industries. Meanwhile, innovation and R&D cannot be separated from professional talent cultivation. China should strengthen the training of green professionals, and actively promote exchanges with European universities.

Third, to strengthen pragmatic China-EU cooperation, both parties should work to enhance the resilience of the green partnership. In the 2022 Strategic Foresight Report – “Twinning the green and digital transitions in the new geopolitical context,” the EU proposed strengthening green and digital diplomacy and developing a positive research and innovation agenda with partners.

Healthy ecosystems are the basic condition for human survival and development. To cope with climate change and achieve green development has always been the responsibility of all countries globally. The partnership between China and the EU is extremely important. As a responsible major country, China places eco-conservation at a high level, which is the commitment of a fast-growing economy to the world. The EU is recognized for its leading position in green development. China and the EU share consistent understandings of green development and are complementary in green cooperation. China-EU green cooperation can help promote eco-conservation, and global climate governance.


Chen Siyang is from the Institute of European Studies of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Editor: Yu Hui

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