The EU and China are at odds over the failure of the G20 climate talks

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FILE PHOTO: A coal-fired power station that is scheduled to close is seen from a cemetery in As Pontes, Spain, February 8, 2022.  Image taken on February 8, 2022. Image taken with a drone.  REUTERS/Miguel Vidal/ /File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A coal-fired power station that is scheduled to close is seen from a cemetery in As Pontes, Spain, February 8, 2022. Image taken on February 8, 2022. Image taken with a drone. REUTERS/Miguel Vidal/ /File Photo

By Kate Abnett and David Stanway

BRUSSELS, Sept 7 (Reuters) – The European Union and China are questioning each other’s commitment to the fight against climate change after last week’s collapse of the Group of 20 (G20) climate talks.

At the end of negotiations last week in Bali, Indonesia, the 20 governments failed to agree on a joint statement on climate change. Diplomatic sources said that some countries, including China, were not satisfied with the language already agreed and enshrined in previous agreements.

The EU’s climate chief on Monday accused the “world’s biggest emitter” – referring to China – of trying to reverse the Glasgow climate pact, which was the result of two weeks of negotiations at the UN in November.

“Some of the biggest players in the world are trying to reverse what was agreed in Glasgow,” said Frans Timmermans at a meeting in Rotterdam on climate adaptation in Africa.

“And some of them, even the biggest emitters on this planet, are trying to hide behind developing countries with arguments that I believe will eventually become unsustainable,” said Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission.

China is responsible for about 30% of annual emissions, making it the world’s largest emitter today, followed by the United States in second and the EU in third. However, the United States is historically the largest emitter.

China’s Foreign Ministry rejected the accusation and called for a “precise” interpretation of previous climate agreements.

The 2015 Paris Agreement, for example, committed rich countries – whose emissions are largely responsible for global warming – to cut carbon emissions faster, while helping developing countries continue its example. Under the Paris Agreement, China is defined as a developing country.

“As a developing country, China has always supported a large number of developing countries and firmly defended their common interests,” said a Chinese ministry spokesman.

The failure of rich nations to provide promised climate funds has increased tensions in global climate negotiations. According to OECD data, the European Union is the largest provider of climate finance.

China has pledged to reach an emissions cap by 2030, a target that could see its emissions spike in the near term as new coal-fired power plants open. Beijing has resisted calls from Europe to review that target and cut emissions faster.

The State Department said China’s low-carbon transition remains “steady,” noting that European countries are burning more coal as they try to replace Russian gas.

“The low-carbon and green process is now facing obstacles,” the ministry said, referring to Europe’s use of coal.

European politicians have said the increase in coal use is a temporary measure and will not thwart climate targets. The EU has set a legal target of reducing net emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

(Reporting by Kate Abnett in Brussels and David Stanway in Shanghai; Editing by Katy Daigle and Sandra Maler, translated by José Muñoz in the Gdańsk Newsroom)

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