Xue Yanping: More Opportunities of China-EU Cooperation in New Energy Development
Xue Yanping is Professor of the Institute of European Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Q: In recent years, energy co-operation between China and EU has experienced rapid development, especially in the so-called “new resources of energy” like renewal energies. How would you comment on China-EU co-operation in this area?
A: China and EU are both influential political powers in the world and the bilateral relationship play a significant role in their economic development. I would like to say that the China-EU co-operation must be viewed in some new dimensions. Why? Because scholars from both sides usually view the co-operation only in the traditional areas, such as two-way trade in goods and services as well direct investment. My view is that over the past ten years, China-EU co-operation has showed us many new areas. We should not ignore these new developments and new energy is one of most important co-operation areas.
Let me make a simple explanation here. New resources of energy are different from traditional resources of energy in the sense that they are not enslaved to the geological reserve and hence they are renewable. However, they are above all low and near-zero GHG emission energy!
On 5th May 2012, high-level energy officials from China and EU countries attended the Sino-EU Energy Summit in Brussels. The most significant achievement of the meeting is the signing of “China-EU Joint Declaration on Energy Security”, which points to the strategic partnership of energy co-operation between China and EU countries. Exploitation of new energies and transfer of new technologies are especially stressed in the Declaration.
Q: Then how do China and EU can coordinate their policies to promote the development of new energy?
A: It seems to me that both sides should adjust their energy policy in some ways. As we know, EU is the owner of many new energy technologies, some of which are the world’s most advanced. So, EU should remove the barriers on exporting these technologies. Doing so can great promote China-EU co-operation in new energy.
Moreover, China should take the initiative to participate in the EU energy technology research and development programs, such as EU’s “Horizon 2020” program, which attracts more than 80 billion and covers a great number of areas.
Q: In what areas can China make the most gains from the new energy co-operation with EU?
A: I strongly suggest that we use the concept of new energy in extensive dimension. Narrowly, new energy covers those low-emission and renewable resources such as hydraulic, solar, wind power and biomass energy, etc. However, I would rather include the new energy technology in the concept as we discuss this subject. In this sense, China can make the best use of EU’s energy efficiency technology such as sustainable low-carbon technologies, including integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) as well as carbon capture and storage (CCS), which can substantially reduce China’s total consumption of fossil fuels and thus greatly cut down emissions of GHG. Moreover, China can benefit most from EU in the co-operation in the renewable energy areas, such as the wind power generation and photovoltaic power generation.
Q: China and EU both view the other as the most significant strategic partner, how do you interpret this relationship in the energy co-operation areas?
A: In a strategic sense, China and EU need to further promote the bilateral energy partnership relations, especially when global competition for traditional energy is escalating.
In terms of China’s energy mix of production and consumption, I believe that China should adjust its energy structures so as to promote diversification of energy sources. At the same time, EU should do its best to involve China in the global multilateral energy talks. EU leaders must accept the reality that China is growing as a key player in the world energy negotiation and the new global energy governance system cannot be successful without China’s participation!
In another word, China’s engagement can enhance EU’s global energy interest. This is the basis for both sides to improve their bilateral energy partnership ties.
Q: How can China learn from EU countries in its adjustment of traditional energy structure?
A: China can learn a lot from its European partner in this area. As we know, China’s energy status is quite similar to that of Europe in terms of fossil energy. For example, they are both rich in coal reserves and scare in oil and gas reserves. China must reduce the share of coal and raise the share of nuclear and other renewable energies. EU’s experience in the development of renewable energy like hydraulic, solar, wind, nuclear and biomass fuel is very important for China if it really hope to establish a low-carbon and environment friendly society.
Q: How is the bilateral trade of new energies between China and EU?
A: China-EU trade of clean energy and equipment is increasing over the past several years. For instance, China imports large wind turbines mainly from European countries, especially from Germany. At the same year, about 80% of China’s exports of photovoltaic products go to Europe. China and EU countries also make great progress in expanding trade of other areas of new energy, such as biodiesel and ethanol.
Q: You are working on a project on Europe’s low-carbon economy. What can China learn from Europe in this regard?
A: European Union is a leader of low-carbon economy and it has a lot of experience over past ten years. China can learn a lot from European GHS emission policy, especially the EU ETS, which is the world’s largest GHS emission reduction system. China can also learn from Europe in terms of the advanced clear energy skill, such as CCS and IGCC. But above all, China and Europe should exchange their ideas and share their experiences on the climate change policy
（Contact Xue Yanping：firstname.lastname@example.org）
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