It has been announced a few days ago that the European Union and the Chinese government have signed agreements on cooperation in renewable forms of energy. The parties have created a roadmap for cooperation until 2020. In the roadmap, both parties state their “mutual interest and role to promote low-carbon development, protect the environment, address climate change and encourage clean energy development”.
Europe understands it must move and do it fast if it intends to jump on the wagon of renewables, and China can give them the push they need. Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete told Reuters, ‘Despite the current geopolitical uncertainties … Europe will move ahead with the clean energy transition, and will look to China and many others players to push forward’,. In a clear reference to Trump’s arrival to the White House, the EU commissioner reaffirmed the commitment of the bloc with renewables. In reality, Trump has not made clear his position on the matter, but the fact that the re-invigoration of the Keystone XL Pipeline was the main feature of one of his first executive orders, his plans to denounce the Paris Climate Change Act, and the appointment of Scott Pruitt, a voice against climate change, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, it makes commentators feel that his heart lies with more conventional forms of energy, and also, that only China will see the benefits of this too.
Given the circumstances then, China is the best partner on renewable energy for the EU. After all, only last week, the National Energy Administration, announced the Chinese government will invest 2.5 trillion yuan ($361 billion) into renewable power generation by 2020. Nothing new there, China has been investing in generation of alternatives to coal, the engine behind its ‘miraculous’ growth, since the air in major Chinese cities has become a hazard for the population, putting also the sustainability of its growth in danger. China also invests heavily in trying to obtain ‘cleaner’ coal in less contaminating plants. But the novelty is the rise of that investment in only a year. Already regarded the largest investor in domestic renewable energy, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis analysed Chinese foreign investments in 2016, and found that it represented a 60% jump, in comparison to the year before, to reach a ‘record 32 billion’ US dollars.
If Chinese investment was not a good enough reason to join forces, the EU´s dependency on Russia on energy is a good one too. Russia is the EU bloc´s main supplier of crude oil, natural gas and solid fuels (Source: Eurostat). Renewables represent a chance to lessen that dependency, since according to reports, the higher use of renewables such as wind, biomass, hydro and solar have led to an estimated 16 billion euros in savings in 2015 on fossil fuel imports.
Picture: ©Jesica Sotelo