Positive Environment News

INTERVIEW - EU Says Cannot Meet Emissions Goal Without China

Date: 16-Jan-07
Country: BELGIUM
Author: David Brunnstrom

Speaking before heading to Beijing, EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner also said that China could face a protectionist backlash unless it opened up its markets and cut its massive trade surplus with Europe.

The EU announced plans last Wednesday for big reductions in its own greenhouse gas emissions -- a minimum of a 20 percent cut and a commitment to slash them by 30 percent if other big polluters like China followed suit.

"We could not have our ambitious goals of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020 if we can't also include other important players like China," Ferrero-Waldner told Reuters in an interview.

"Whatever China does could indeed offset all our efforts."

The commissioner will launch the talks on the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with China in Beijing on Wednesday.

She said an energy and climate change partnership launched with China in 2005 needed to be broadened by technology sharing and encouraging use of hydro, wind and solar power and biofuels.

"China today still opens up a coal-fired power plant every week, so you can imagine how important it is," she said.

Both Europe and China, as major energy consumers and competitors for global resources, need to cut back on energy demand and increase energy efficiency, she said.

Ferrero-Waldner said she could not say how long it would take to finalise the agreement covering all 22 areas of cooperation with China, which is to replace an outdated 1985 pact that dealt only with trade and economic matters.


"IT WILL TAKE TIME"

"Of course it will take time," she said. "We will have to see how long it will take.

There were a number of difficult issues, not least trade.

"China has a great chance today to work with us Europeans," Ferrero-Waldner said.

"We have a 200 billion euro (US$260 billion) relationship, which is a huge trade relationship, with a great deficit from the European side ... in order to balance this relationship China will have to open up more."

Ferrero-Waldner said the European Union was trying to show it would remain open and not succumb to protectionism, but added that if the trade imbalance increased further, "there could of course be some protectionist tendencies."

The talks will also cover agriculture, transport, customs, education, science, information, security and counter-terrorism.

Analysts say the eventual pact will essentially codify existing EU-China ties and, as well as trade, could hit snags over China's reluctance to discuss human rights and Taiwan.

China has pressed the EU to recognise it as a market economy, a move that would help Beijing fight anti-dumping cases, and to lift an arms embargo put in place after the Tiananmen Square killings in 1989.

EU negotiators hope to lower restrictions for European firms in Chinese sectors like cars and petrochemicals and for more access to the country's vast public procurement market. Some Chinese economists argue Beijing should strengthen barriers against foreign investment, not remove them.

Reuters
© Thomson Reuters 2007 All rights reserved

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