14 Jul 2023, 13:39
Sören Amelang

Germany vows to push China for more ambitious climate targets in new strategy

Clean Energy Wire

Germany aims to put pressure on China to raise its climate targets, according to the government’s first strategy for dealing with the east Asian country. The paper, which was adopted by the cabinet following months of delays, calls China’s current plans – peak carbon emissions before 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060 – “not sufficient for keeping to the 1.5°C limit,” adding that Germany expects “the world’s second largest economy to contribute to climate action in accordance with its means and responsibility.” It also says that Germany is “committed to ensuring that China contributes to global loss and damage financing,” and lists industry decarbonisation and the phase-out of coal-fired power generation as priorities for cooperation between Europe’s largest economy and China. The strategy says China’s dominance in green technologies, such as solar PV, has “created unilateral dependencies,” and vows to seek “further market liberalisation” in China in order to export “advanced climate technologies produced by German companies.”

Environment and development NGO Germanwatch welcomed the strategy’s general emphasis on climate issues, but criticised the focus on raising emissions targets. “It would be even more important at this point to use diplomatic pressure and concrete offers of cooperation to demand the ambitious implementation of the goals already agreed upon. This would then also create scope for overachieving or increasing the climate targets," Lutz Weischer, head of the NGO’s Berlin office, said. He said there were other gaps, too. "For example, the German government should address the issue of methane emissions with China. Cooperation on researching and monitoring climate change risks and impacts would also make sense.” EU-China climate diplomacy expert Belinda Schäpe from think tank E3G called the strategy a “a good example” of effective climate foreign policy. “It aims to cooperate with China, but is also clear-eyed about China’s responsibility” as the world’s largest emitter, as well as about the need to de-risk green supply chains, she said.  

Relations between the EU and China remain key in global efforts to cut emissions. China's heavy involvement in many European countries' energy sectors has become an important driver of national energy transitions, but has also stirred fears of dependency. In its first-ever national security strategy, the German government said that exceeding the 1.5°C temperature limit of the Paris Climate Agreement would jeopardise the prospect of living in security and prosperity in Germany and globally. In June, China and Germany agreed to introduce a “climate and transformation dialogue” to speed up their transition towards a more climate-friendly economy by focusing cooperation on issues such as making industrial processes more climate-friendly, promoting the switch to climate-friendly mobility and strengthening the circular economy. Germanwatch called the agreement a "remarkable success for German climate diplomacy."

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