A joint push by the EU and China remains the best hope to drive global climate action

20 Jun, 2020 10:16
source: Singularity Financial

A joint push by the EU and China remains the best hope to drive global climate action and build momentum ahead of next year’s UN climate talks, researchers and NGOs say.

The coronavirus pandemic has shifted national priorities, raised geopolitical tensions and upended the diplomatic calendar – postponing a landmark summit where many hoped the EU and China might strike a deal. Yet some see a new opportunity for the two to cooperate on building a greener global economy, aligning their recoveries with the principles of a green transition and bringing other countries along with them.

A “taskforce” between China and Europe on harmonising sustainable finance taxonomies is likely to be launched, said Chinese green finance leader Dr Ma Jun in keynote session during Responsible Investor Digital Festival Summer 2020.

Dr Ma, who is Chairman of the China Green Finance Committee and Director at Tsinghua University’s Research Centre for Green Finance Development, told delegates that Europe and China are looking into the “very interesting issue of harmonisation of green finance taxonomies”, describing it as the next “milestone” for collaboration and an important step in encouraging cross border investment.

“Maybe something even bigger is possible,” said Lutz Weischer, with the environmental NGO Germanwatch.

Weischer and others say there’s an opening for the EU and China to craft a “green partnership” focussed less on specific emissions targets and more on using the coronavirus recovery to accelerate the transition to a greener global economy.

The EU and China are also major funders of development overseas. If they can agree to direct funding toward low-carbon investments, both at home and abroad, that could have a bigger impact than any deal on simply cutting emissions, advocates say.

Such a partnership would send a global message that both the EU and China believe “the green transition is the economy of the future,” Weischer said.

Others are less optimistic. Noah Barkin, a fellow with the German Marshall Fund in Berlin, pointed out that the EU and China already face difficult negotiations over trade and investment. Political tensions are making those conversations more complicated, while the pandemic itself has limited the ability of diplomats to meet. He thinks a major climate agreement is unlikely any time soon.