China, EU and US cooperation on climate and energy

An ever-changing relationship
Research paper Published 29 March 2021 ISBN: 978 1 78413 466 2
Turbine in front of chimney

Antony Froggatt

Former Senior Research Fellow and Deputy Director, Environment and Society Centre

China, the EU and the US are responsible for around 40 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and consume nearly half of the world’s energy. Therefore, decisions made in Beijing, Washington and Brussels have significant implications for the world’s climate and energy security.

International cooperation on climate change has lost momentum in recent years, however, 2021 could mark a shift in the global approach to the climate crisis and boost cooperative climate diplomacy. Countries are due to submit revised pledges to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and will negotiate at the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26), in an attempt to put global mitigation plans back on track to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement. 

While US climate policy has been unpredictable at times, the EU has been consistently ambitious and China has powered the shift to low-cost renewables. Critically, real-world action needs cooperation, competition and consistency.