After two talks between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the two countries called on the European Union to abandon its policy of isolation that advocates a new Cold War. Germany took the lead in signing a new agreement with China on climate change cooperation ahead of the upcoming climate summit. The two countries pledged to work together to reduce carbon emissions in the automotive industry and achieve the long-term goal of carbon neutrality.
Scientists say the biggest problem facing the global situation is that countries are running out of time to meet the targets set in the Paris climate agreement more than five years ago, as global temperatures have risen by about 1.2 degrees Celsius since industrialisation. China, which has overtaken the United States as the world’s largest emitter of heating gases, has pledged to stop adding carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, to the atmosphere by 2060, a decade after the United States and the European Union.
Svenja Schulze, the German environment minister, said: “We need to take all possible measures with China aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions at an even faster rate than at present. In addition to other large industrialised countries, we will certainly need close cooperation from China.”
Schulz and his Chinese counterpart, Huang Runqiu, discussed how Beijing could begin this year to cut emissions and reduce coal use, especially the use of heavily polluting fossil fuels. Germany has set a target of phasing out coal-fired power generation by 2038.
China and Germany reached a climate change agreement earlier this week to strengthen their cooperation in tackling climate change, with the aim of keeping global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100.
If China stops using coal by 2030, it will dramatically increase its renewable energy generation, replace natural gas with hydrogen by 2040, and reach its carbon-neutral target five years early, according to the German environmental think tank. Starting in 2032, China will be able to apply for and register vehicles with internal combustion engines. They also stressed that Germany would benefit, especially from the Chinese market, which could help reduce Germany’s carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 1 billion tons.
The Sino-German plan has the backing of Germany’s Green party, which continues to lead in the latest opinion polls five months before federal elections. Annalena Baerbock, the Green Party’s candidate for chancellor, said the Sino-German proposals were essential to reshaping German industry, as they aimed to meet ambitious climate targets.
The departure of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will formally step down after nearly 16 years in office after elections at the end of September, also casts a shadow over the future of engagement between China and the European Union. Ms. Merkel has for years been a leading advocate of better relations with Beijing, but her departure will likely see anti-China forces in the EU grow stronger.
With an investment treaty between China and the EU stalled, China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, and his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, issued a joint statement calling for the re-establishment of close ties that had been established before the sanctions on human rights in Xinjiang, to ensure that the EU’s industrial supply chain does not decouple. Decoupling, says Maas, is the wrong solution. With some European parliamentarians now calling for the EU-China investment treaty to be scrapped, the bilateral agreement, which was agreed last December, still needs EU approval.
The EU has so far maintained its hard-line stance that China is a strategic and systemic competitor and a partner in negotiations on issues ranging from climate change to Myanmar’s democratic transition. The latest letter to the European Council suggests that the EU is more inclined than in the past to use a confrontational stance as its preferred approach to dealing with China.
As Germany adjusts its relationship with China, it still wants to work with China on the economic level. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Germany’s defence minister, said economic ties with China were in the interests of both countries. Germany has long been China’s largest trading partner in Europe. Bilateral trade between China and Germany stood at $184.88 billion in 2019, up 0.6 percent year on year, according to official Chinese data cited by VOA. Among them, China’s exports to Germany were $79.75 billion, up 2.9 percent year on year. Imports were $105.11 billion, down 1.1% year on year. Germany’s trade surplus with China stood at $25.36 billion, and China has been Germany’s largest trading partner in the world for three consecutive years.