BRUSSELS, June 30, Xinhua -- China and the European Union (EU) on Monday agreed to enhance cooperation in the uphill battle against global climate change.


Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attends a press conference with President of the European Council Donald Tusk and President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker after the 17th China-EU leaders' meeting in Brussels, Belgium, June 29, 2015. (Xinhua/Ding Lin)

The move came as a joint statement on climate change was issued after visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met with EU leaders in Belgium.

Experts from the EU and some European institutions said China and the EU face broad prospects to cooperate in tackling climate change.

Moreover, as China is seeking to develop a low-carbon economy, the EU has extensive experience and has also expressed the willingness to share with China.

According to the statement, China and the EU said they recognized their critical roles in combating climate change, and were committed to working together to reach an ambitious and legally-binding agreement at the Paris Climate Conference in 2015.

"Europe has already gone through many of the problems which China is experiencing now - air pollution, environmental degradation, deforestation, urban mobility challenges... and as a result we have extensive experience that we can share with China," EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Canete told Xinhua.

China and the EU "are natural partners," said the commissioner, adding that "as we agreed during the summit, initiatives like carbon markets, technology exchanges, or cooperation on sustainable mobility are now an essential part of EU-China relations."

"Bilateral cooperation between the EU and China is mostly technical in nature, with a series of practical, on-the-ground initiatives taking place in recent years. But this technical cooperation also provides a good platform to build trust and confidence in international negotiations towards a deal in Paris," said Andrei Marcu, head of Carbon Market Forum at the Center for European Policies Studies (CEPS).

Marcu added that China has a great opportunity to introduce carbon pricing at a national level. Moreover, in introducing a national emissions trading system (ETS), China had made good preparations through the pilot projects.

Fergus Green, policy analyst at Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, said the EU could play a helpful role in assisting countries like China to develop and strengthen policies and measures to promote the deployment of renewable energy, establish green financial mechanisms, and build other institutions to facilitate low-carbon transition.

"The EU is currently advising China on the establishment of its carbon markets, but great care needs to be taken here: there are many differences between the EU and China with regard to the regulatory, governance, economic, financial, political, and cultural context, and policies can't simply be transplanted from the EU to China," said Green.

Green also noted that the EU could play a bigger role as a financier of clean technology innovation, from early stage research and development, through to the demonstration and deployment of clean technologies.

"Investment in clean technology innovation and infrastructure would provide a strong foundation for growth and prosperity in Europe, as well as accelerating its reduction in greenhouse gas emissions," said Green.

Jason Anderson, head of European Climate and Energy Policy at the World Wildlife Fund's European Policy Office, said the principle of "common but differentiated responsibility" is a fact, as countries are not in the same position and have to take on commitments that differ with respect to ambition and timing.

"There is no hiding from the fact that every single country has some level of responsibility and commitment, and simply needs to get on with doing what they can to fight climate change," said Anderson.

According to the statement, China and the EU agreed to launch an EU-China Low-Carbon Cities Partnership to promote mutual exchange on policies, planning and good practices for low-carbon and climate resilient cities.

"Europe has very clearly turned a corner - emissions are falling as GDP is rising. This is an indication to the rest of the world that a low-carbon economy can be a reality. China is beginning a similar pathway to economic and technology reforms that cut pollution while maintaining healthy economic growth," said Anderson.

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