Asia Europe Journal

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 243–254 | Cite as

The EU-China relationship in a new era of global climate governance

  • Lei LiuEmail author
  • Tong Wu
  • Ziqianhong Wan
Policy Brief


Global climate governance still faces serious challenges despite the epochal Paris Agreement of 2015. Whether and how the world will reach the targeted 1.5-degree limit remains difficult to foresee, although undoubtedly one of the necessary conditions is greater cooperation among the major greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting nations. In this light, the decision by the USA, the second largest GHG emitter in the world, to withdraw from the Paris Agreement has significant global ramifications. Another source of uncertainty is the European Union’s climate policy, which has long been a role model for the world; it will likely have to undergo major changes as a result of the UK’s exit from the EU, which is projected to take place in 2019. Against this backdrop of profound geopolitical changes, this article argues that strengthened cooperation between the EU and China—the world’s largest GHG emitter, but also its largest investor in renewable energy and an increasingly vocal voice for climate action—is indispensable for meaningful climate change mitigation and adaptation in the decades ahead, even if the end results still fall short of the ambitions outlined in the Paris Agreement. Diverging economic and political interests still exist, but there is also much common interest and ample room for collaboration. We review the progress and challenges in EU-China cooperation on climate change and put forward practical suggestions for plausible future directions.



The first version of the paper was presented at “The Jean Monnet Fellowship Programme@25” Alumni Conference hosted by the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies of European University Institute in 2017. We appreciate the comments from the participants and anonymous reviewers.

Funding information

The research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No: 71704126) and Sichuan University (Grant No: skqx201605).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public AdministrationSichuan UniversityChengduChina
  2. 2.School of Life SciencesArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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