Steve Baker says China 'isn't ready to do deal at COP26'

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The Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng and Frans Timmermans, executive vice president of the European Commission for the European Green Deal, boasted of a positive meeting on Monday. Both formed a consensus to strengthen environmental cooperation in a move that may have surprised pundits following previous tension between the two sides. Mr Han spoke of China’s recent announcement to support developing countries’ green and low-carbon energy development. Beijing recently announced that it will stop importing coal from abroad and Mr Han claimed it showed they had adopted a more proactive and cooperative approach to global climate governance.

Now, he added, China has taken on a series of strategies to make sure that the goal of curbing carbon dioxide emissions and becoming carbon neutral on schedule.

Mr Han also stressed that China and the EU should continue to cooperate amicably and continue to strengthen green ties between the two powers to help in the global fight to tackle the climate crisis ahead of COP26.

He said: “China stands ready to strengthen coordination with other parties, bridge differences, promote consensus and facilitate positive results of the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.”

This rhetoric might come as a shock given the previous tension in the relationship between China and the EU, as well as China’s previous apathy with regard to tackling climate change.

In May 2021, efforts to win approval for the EU’s huge investment deal with China to open the Chinese market further to EU investors were “suspended” because of souring diplomatic relations after the two sides hit each other with tit-for-tat sanctions.

The EU sanctioned four Chinese officials in over suspected human rights breaches in China’s north-western region of Xinjiang, and China responded with sanctions against European politicians, scholars and research groups.

The EU sanctioned four Chinese officials in over suspected human rights breaches in China’s north-western region of Xinjiang, and China responded with sanctions against European politicians, scholars and research groups.

EU Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said at the time: “It’s clear in the current situation with the EU sanctions in place against China and Chinese counter-sanctions in place, including against members of European Parliament, the environment is not conducive for ratification of the agreement.”

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But Beijing is now trying to position itself as a global leader on climate change, with President Xi Jinping pledging last year to reach net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2060.

Mr Timmermans said the EU is grateful for China’s great efforts to cooperate on climate change and wants to strengthen its cooperation with China on environment and climate, make joint contributions to the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow and support China in hosting the COP15.

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