中国与世界,环境危机大家谈

china and the world discuss the environment

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An alliance worth striving for

Bernice Lee

Nick Mabey

Readinch

In the week of high-level talks between China and Europe, Bernice Lee and Nick Mabey argue the two parties have the power to accelerate global action on climate change – as long as they can work together.

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Today, the imperative of meeting global energy and climate security needs is driving a third industrial revolution. With the combined market power of the European Union, the world’s largest single market, and China, the world’s second largest and fastest growing economy, there are unprecedented cooperation opportunities for the two sides to expand new markets for low-carbon goods, services and technologies. Linking these markets will accelerate market growth, help drive down the costs and begin to lay the standards underpinning the low carbon transition. This kind of historic partnership will bring benefits not only to producers and consumers in China and the European Union, but also across the globe.

China and the European Union are already economically entwined. The EU has been the largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) into China, over two thirds more than the United States in 2008 and 2009. Most FDI in China goes to manufacturing (currently around 50%), real estate (around 20%) and utilities. China is the EU’s largest import source for cement, plaster and stone as well as iron and steel, and an increasingly important investor in energy intensive and other sectors in Europe.

The two powers will continue to face many common challenges in energy security in the next quarter century. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), both regions will be highly dependent on oil imports by 2030 – China for 75% of its oil demand and the European Union for over 90%. Both will have high dependency on the Middle East and central Asian suppliers. The strength of domestic-demand growth in China is one reason that global energy prices reached record-breaking levels in 2008 and continue to be high by historical standards. Ensuring security of supply – and stability in resource rich regions – is thus paramount for both China and the European Union. Both also need to manage the impacts of climate change, including water stress, shifting agricultural zones and extreme weather events. These impacts are likely to affect food, water and human security adversely, with implications far beyond national borders.

It is now time for the two sides to reinforce their low-carbon partnership. This will not be straightforward. Many thorny issues lie in the way – from the public fallout in Copenhagen last December, which dampened trust between the two sides, to the interminable trade squabbles. EU businesses, together with their Atlantic counterparts, are also more openly critical of the investment conditions in China – from its public-procurement policy to complaints of China’s vast industrial subsidies. Yet a revival of industrial policies has occurred in the United States and Europe too. New disputes – say over the restriction on the export of rare earth metals from China and the threat of trade action against countries with weak climate-change policies – are also bringing new challenges.

Despite these roadblocks, China and the European Union are in a unique position to take the lead in mapping the pathways towards a global low-carbon economy. With the collapse of climate legislation in the United States, it is up to the EU and China as the world’s largest markets for low-carbon goods and services to strengthen their role as the locomotive of the low-carbon economy. The European Union and China launched a High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue in 2008. There were expectations of a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement from 2010. These instruments may not generate real progress unless they are backed by a new political understanding of the strategic common interests of both parties, driven by the growing interdependence of our economies and our climate.

Do the political conditions for a step change in EU-China low-carbon cooperation exist on either side at the moment? China feels it is already doing a great deal and stresses the need for stronger leadership from developed countries, notably the United States. Europe shares China’s disappointment on the slow progress in the US but feels it is already providing its fair share of support for low-carbon initiatives in China. But, while individually useful, these initiatives remain too small and dispersed to have a transformative impact on China’s strategic direction. What is needed is concrete demonstration of low-carbon development on a large scale.

As William Hague, the United Kingdom’s foreign secretary said in a speech in New York at the end of September, a key challenge for Europe is to build an economic partnership with China that reinforces the steps China is taking towards a low-carbon economy. Recently, five provinces and eight cities have been designated formally as China’s “low-carbon pilots”, which together cover 350 million people.

Initiatives of this type have been the mainstay of low-carbon cooperation and research between China and the European Union. It is in the interest of the EU to take an ambitious cooperative approach to helping support these schemes as these pilots provide a critical boost to global confidence in the concept of low-carbon development and help put China on the path to sustainable prosperity. It could also produce huge two-way investment and partnership opportunities and provide an opportunity to forge a new constructive agreement that balances the issues of investment entry, protection of intellectual-property rights (IPR), government procurement, industrial policy, cooperative research, development and demonstration (RD&D) and carbon finance.

More specifically: the European Union and China can work together through:

 Joint development of standards for low-carbon goods and services

 Identifying and developing technology portfolios and business models in low-carbon pilot areas in China to attract European enterprises of various sizes with long-term strategic EU-China cooperation potential. This may involve establishing a joint Low Carbon Technology Development and Diffusion Fund, to promote bilateral investment, especially in SMEs (such as seed funding for research and development). 

  Establishment of a joint EU-China Low Carbon Technology IPR Protection Service and Technology Trade Centre, to promote  strategic IPR partnerships between government agencies and businesses from both sides.   

  Identification of “fast-track” low carbon technology demonstration opportunities (such as low carbon building cooperation) to attract EU technology suppliers and enhance the low carbon pilots’ status as innovative low-carbon leaders.

The opportunities are clear, but so are the political and emotional barriers to agreement. Only by a taking a clear sighted view of the both the risks and rewards of closer cooperation can a more effective agreement be forged. Europe must regain its sense of confidence that open markets and competition will bring mutual benefits; China must take more seriously the concerns of EU investors and resolve some of the contradictions between its industrial and low-carbon policies. Both sides say they prioritise action in this area. By identifying a joint low-carbon vision and forging a new spirit of reciprocity, they can show that they are capable of turning this aspiration into real action.

 

Bernice Lee is research director - energy, environment and resource governance, at Chatham House - The Royal Institute of International Affairs.

Nick Mabey is a founding director and the chief executive of E3G, an independent not-for-profit organisation working in the public interest to accelerate the global transition to sustainable development.

Homepage image from china.com shows Chinese premier Wen Jiabao and European Commission president José Manuel Barroso.

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天真

中欧不过是在玩个小把戏,那就是吸引美国的注意力。别忘记了,欧、美在气候变化上也有激烈的交锋,暂时呢,欧洲占据了上风,想借中国的声音获得再次领先。这些不过是小孩子的把戏,连我都骗不了,别提比猴子还精的美国人了。

陆克文政府由于玩气候变化的把戏垮台了;西班牙由于对可再生能源补贴太厉害,搞出了金融危机,这些不是明确的信号是什么?我们还在盼望着什么全球一致团结起来的乌托邦美梦,如果是赚钱,会都不用开,大家都干起来了。太天真了,哥们。你不是在担心,没这个话题,你就失业吧。

Naive

China and Europe is only playing the game of attracting the the United States' attention. Don't forget, Europe and the US had an intense confrontation about climate change. For now, Europe has the upper hand and wants to use China's voice to take the lead again. This is just children's play and it can't fool me, let alone the smarter-than-a-monkey Americans.

The Rudd Administration has failed because of playing the climate change game and Spain is in financial crisis because subsidiaries for renewable energy were too high. What do these things clearly signal? Hoping for the world to be united is a utopian dream. If it's about making money, then there's no need to be open and we would all do it. You are too naive, my friend. Are you worried that you will lose your job because there are no topics like this?


环境角度,很好,但政治上不可行

这篇联合报道论述的弱点,在于没能正确认识到欧盟和中国间的重大体制与政治区别。

确实,中国政治领导者,以他们小的代表选举团和小的获胜联盟制,不可能对为了人民的利益而发展新科技产生很大兴趣。相反,让他们更感兴趣的,是那些能为他们参选帮派增加个人利益的技术。而文章中作者回避了这个问题,而是谴责美国的在气候变化大会上不作出努力,就很大程度上降低了他们论点的整体可信度。对所谓的“低碳城市”的讨论,不能代替对中国的政府治理以及国企的崛起的真正讨论。

为什么欧盟应该付出这么多,为了获得看起来如此少的回报?为什么中国不结束这个合作,尽管中国已经拥有它想要的?

Environmentally Desirable, but Politically Unfeasible

This joint commentary suffers in its inability to adequately address significant institutional and political differences between the EU and China.

Indeed, Chinese political leaders, with their small selectorate and small winning coalition system, are probably not that interested in developing technology for the benefit of their own people. Instead, they are probably more likely interested in this type of technology as a way to distribute private benefits to key members of its winning coalition. In sidestepping this issue by tacitly blaming the United States for lack of progress on climate change negotiations, these authors significantly reduce the credibility of their overall argument. No discussion of so-called 'low carbon pilot cities' is a substitute for a real discussion on trends in Chinese governance and the rise of its state-run corporations.

Why should the EU give so much for seemingly so little in return? And what is preventing China from ending this cooperation when it has what it wants?


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