China, Europe enjoy huge potential in green cooperation

February 21, 2024
Updated 2024/02/21 at 6:13 AM
7 Min Read
Photo shows a wind farm of the Thrace wind power project undertaken by a Chinese company in Greece. (Photo by Yuan Zongqi)

By Lin Zihan, Wu Yue

Recently, China-Europe green cooperation has been making significant progress in new energy investment and green trade.

German automaker Audi is making rapid progress in the construction of its first purely electric vehicle production base in Changchun, northeast China’s Jilin province. Meanwhile, the Dabar Hydropower Plant in Bosnia and Herzegovina is currently being built by China Gezhouba Group. The Manduria 7MW photovoltaic power plant in Italy undertaken by China National Machinery Import & Export Corporation Europe has been officially delivered.

A recent report by the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to China highlighted that green cooperation has become a key area of collaboration between China and the EU. Strengthening policy coordination and dialogue and promoting information exchange and cooperation are beneficial for the two sides to jointly address global climate, energy, and environmental challenges, and promote sustainable development.

Europe Renewable Energy Company (EREC) under China Energy Investment Corporation has built a wind power project in Thrace, Greece, which comprises four wind farms. The project generates approximately 160 million kilowatt-hours of green electricity annually, contributing to the rapid development of renewable energy in Greece and surrounding regions.

It is reported, since the completion of the Thrace wind power project in 2020, the EREC has cumulatively produced approximately 632 million kilowatt-hours of green electricity, which was supplied to 30,000 households in Greece. This is equivalent to reducing carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 630,100 tons and saving 255,300 tons of standard coal.

The Thrace wind power project is a vivid example of green cooperation between China and Europe. In recent years, China and Europe have collaborated in various fields such as green energy, green manufacturing, and green services through the establishment of energy cooperation platforms and the sharing of clean energy technologies and experiences.

According to the United Nations Comtrade database, trade volume of green goods between China and Europe exceeded $56 billion in 2019, a 14-fold increase from 2000. Statistics from the International Energy Agency showed that in 2022, approximately 46 percent of Europe’s wind power generation was contributed by Chinese products.

Wang Yiwei, director of the EU Research Center at Renmin University of China, noted that Europe is at the forefront of addressing climate change and promoting green development, with abundant practical experience as well as industrial and technological resources. China and the EU share common goals and a solid foundation for cooperation in relevant fields, he added.

“China and the EU are strengthening coordination at three levels: domestic policies, bilateral cooperation, and multilateral collaboration, with an aim of jointly addressing global challenges such as climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss,” said Yao Ling, director of the Institute of European Studies, Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

She noted that in terms of domestic policies, the EU’s carbon market construction started early and has now entered its fourth phase. China can learn from the EU’s carbon market construction and adopt its good experiences and practices, Yao added.

When it comes to bilateral cooperation, China and Europe can deepen green collaboration in clean energy and transportation. This includes focusing on solar energy, wind energy, hydrogen power generation and storage, clean coal and coal chemical technologies, carbon capture, utilization, and storage, as well as the upstream and downstream segments of the new energy vehicle supply chain.

In terms of multilateral coordination, China and Europe can strengthen their cooperation on international platforms such as the United Nations Climate Change Conferences and the United Nations Biodiversity Conference. This will help promote consensus among participating parties on climate governance and contribute to global green transformation and development.

“Most of the countries in Europe are low-lying countries, and climate change is causing economic, ecological, and livelihood losses in Europe. There is an urgent need in Europe for energy transition and climate change mitigation. China, on the other hand, has been consistently leading the world in clean energy investment for many years. The combination of China’s investment and production capacity advantages with Europe’s need for energy transition will facilitate more green cooperation,” Wang noted.

In the sector of electric vehicle, the complementary nature of the Chinese and European industries is also anticipated.

According to data from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, while electric cars from China are entering the European market, European cars are also gaining popularity in the Chinese market.

China is the third largest export market for the EU’s automotive industry, following the United Kingdom and the United States. A report by the China Chamber of Commerce to the EU revealed that in the field of pure electric passenger cars, EU exports to China in 2022 increased by 151 percent year on year.

“Despite controversies such as anti-subsidy investigations, Chinese and European companies have maintained close cooperation in the field of electric vehicles in recent years. This clearly demonstrates that China-Europe green collaboration meets the expectations of both sides,” said Yao.

“China and Europe enjoy a wide range of areas and great potential in their green cooperation,” Wang said, adding that both sides should expand cooperation in clean energy production, green finance, as well as digitalization and intelligentization of green industries.

It is important for both sides to continue strengthening strategic communication and coordination, enhancing mutual trust, focusing on cooperation, overcoming obstacles, and solidifying and strengthening the China-Europe green partnership.

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