To beat back climate change, the EU must help China – and itself

(EurActiv, 3 Dec 2018) In the fight against climate change, the EU must tackle two gigantic tasks: slash its own emissions, and help China do the same, writes Bernard Durand.

Bernard Durand is a former director at the Geology-Geochemistry Division of the French Institute of Petroleum and New Energies, and at the Ecole nationale supérieure de géologie. He is the author of the book Petroleum, natural gas and coal.

The recent report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made for depressing reading, giving the world just over a decade to get serious about the problem or face disaster.

It seems to have resonated in the EU: on 21 November, politicians and business leaders wrote to the EU’s Commissioner for Climate Action, calling for a more ambitious policy to restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The scale of the challenge is vast, and will require Europeans to accelerate their energy transition and embrace alternative sources of power. The EU has plenty of work to do on its own account, with certain governments reluctant to go green, such as heavily coal-dependent Poland.

But even if Brussels somehow manages to cut its emissions to zero, it simply won’t matter – unless the world addresses the catastrophic climate changes emanating from China. Climate projections show that even if Europe and the United States bring their own emissions to zero, catastrophic climate change will not be averted due rising CO2 emissions coming from China and other developing countries.

That’s not to say China hasn’t tried. Beijing has worked hard to limit CO2 emissions, particularly in the electricity sector, where the share of coal-fired generation has fallen from 81 per cent to 67% over the past decade. This is thanks to a growing contribution from renewables like hydro, wind, and solar power, along with nuclear energy and – to a lesser extent – natural gas.

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EurActiv, 3 Dec 2018: To beat back climate change, the EU must help China – and itself