A Path to a Green Future?

Carmen Bakas

Carmen is an international corporate lawyer with over 25 years of legal practice in Amsterdam, London, Singapore, Mumbai and Houston. She holds a double master’s degree of law from Leiden University, The Netherlands, and is qualified as a Dutch lawyer.

One important partner for China to reach its sustainability goals is the EU. As early as 2005, the EU-China Partnership on Climate Change began as a high-level political framework for cooperation and dialogue on these issues, ultimately building to the EU-China summit in 2018, where both parties committed to the Paris Agreement on climate change, in addition to other commitments on strengthening bilateral cooperation. These commitments covered everything from clean energy production to low-emission transport, to overall energy efficiency.
One particular area of cooperation between China and the EU has been emission trading. The EU emission trading system (ETS) has been a cornerstone to attack climate change. For several years China has also been working on an ETS system, most recently by launching a set of interim rules related to carbon emission trading management (effective as of February 1, 2020), marking a key step towards establishing a potentially unified national emission trading system.
Another notable example of cooperation on sustainability is the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI). The CAI will boost the Chinese- European investment relationship and is underpinned by sustainable development principles. It is the first time that China has agreed to such ambitious provisions with a trade partner. In a recent article, we discussed the CAI briefly, but not its specific provisions on sustainability, which include the commitment to effectively implement the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Other examples of sustainability under the CAI include:

-China and the EU agree to promote investment in such a way as to contribute to the objective of sustainable development, for the welfare of present and future generations, and to ensure that this objective is integrated and reflected in their investment relationship (Section IV, Subsection I, Art 1 CAI).
-Both parties are committed to sustainable development, and recognize that economic development, social development, and environmental protection are interdependent and mutually reinforcing dimensions of sustainable development.
-Each party shall strive to ensure that its laws and policies provide for and encourage high levels of environmental protection and shall strive to continue to improve those laws and policies and their underlying levels of protection. (Section IV, Subsection II, Art 2).

With China aiming to become carbon-neutral in 2060, and the European commission working on a climate law to further reduce emissions, both parties seem dedicated to working (together) on building a sustainable future. Our lawyers will keep following up on this topic, but please reach out to us if you have any questions in the meantime.