Political economy of climate and clean energy in China

China’s emissions pathway during the coming decades is probably the single biggest factor in determining the achievability of the climate targets agreed in Paris. This fact is due to the still growing size of the Chinese economy and its carbon intensity, based on its reliance on coal to fuel the power system. Stating this fact means not deflecting historic responsibilities concern­ing a changing climate – a responsibility that lies overwhelmingly on European and North American countries. It simply pinpoints the common interest that Europe and the rest of the world have in the accelerated transition of China to a zero-carbon economy. But an interaction of the EU with China that is productive in terms of climate action must not necessarily be described with the term «cooperation». Sometimes competition – and even confrontation – might be part of the mix. What matters in the end is that both economies transition extremely rapidly to zero emissions. This paper contributes towards fostering a deeper understanding of the challenges and the potential of Chinese-European interaction in this transition.

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