Climate change

China and the EU could issue a formal climate change statement by next week, ex-UN official says

Former UN climate change official Christiana Figueres said the EU and China might be able to deliver a joint climate statement ‘around the G20’ summit

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 June, 2017, 7:45am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 June, 2017, 6:12am

China and the European Union may deliver a joint climate statement around the time of next week’s G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, part of an effort to formalise their alliance on tackling climate change in wake of the US’ withdrawal from the landmark Paris climate deal, a former United Nations official and climate observer said.

Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said in a press teleconference on Wednesday that the EU and China “might be able to deliver that [the joint climate statement] around the G20”.

“I do expect that, and I do know now, negotiators from both sides have continued to work to solve that issue,” Figueres said.

The parties were blocked from making such a statement due to their spat over trade disputes during a bilateral summit in Brussels nearly a month ago. As world leaders of the G20 group, including China’s President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, prepare to meet on July 7-8, the two sides are still working on to restore the global climate leadership.

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“There is actually no disagreement between the EU and China on climate change,” Figueres said. “The fact is that the statement failed to be released because of a very specific issue on trade, but not because of climate change.”

Li Shuo, senior global policy adviser for Greenpeace in East Asia, echoed Figueres in saying that “efforts are still ongoing and there is some hope that the statement might still be published, possibly on the fringes of the G20 summit in July”.

Despite lacking a formal statement, the EU and China both warned US President Donald Trump at the Brussels summit in early June that it was “a big mistake” to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, said during the summit that “the fight against climate change, and all the research, innovation and technological progress it will bring, will continue, with or without the US”.

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During Wednesday’s teleconference, Gail Whiteman, director of the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business at Britain’s Lancaster University, called on the heads of G20 to “stand up for climate science, in terms of funding and embracing the results of evidence”.

Whiteman said French President Emmanuel Macron has been encouraging climate scientists to continue their work. She contrasted Macron, who, she said, considers France as a base for climate science, with US President Trump who has labelled global warming in Twitter posts as a “hoax” created by and for the Chinese to make US manufacturing non-competitive.