On January 10, Spain’s “La Nacional” website published an article titled “Europe has a green economy competitor”. The article mentioned that China was already a leader in many technologies as Chinese companies produce more than 70% of the world’s solar panels, 69% lithium batteries and 45% wind turbines.
The EU’s green agreement, China’s growing belief in environmental protection, and the White House’s renewed support for environmental protection after Joe Biden took office will make the fight against climate change the core of the world’s three major economic entities’ domestic and foreign affairs in the coming years. The world has entered 2021, and the next ten years will determine whether the ambition of reducing emissions can achieve the mid-term goal of 2030, so as to achieve carbon neutrality in major economies from 2050 to 2060.
The EU is in a good position in the industrial, technological and social transformations necessary or triggered by the ongoing environmental revolution. Various indicators show that the EU has completed part of its transformation. Between 1990 and 2019, greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by 24%. The 27 EU member states pledged to redouble their efforts to reach 55% within ten years.
Renewable energy accounted for 19.4% of EU energy consumption last year, which was very close to the previously set 20% target. In addition, in recent years, there have been no major divergence within the European Council on the necessity of updating production systems and consumption patterns.
Taking the lead in the environmental competition and the increasing consensus on energy and industrial issues provide an opportunity for Europe to establish a leading position on a global scale, while providing other global players such as the United States and China with supervision and economic incentives for ecological transformation.
Brussels succeeded in maintaining the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, which was once in danger, and played a good role as a world example. In the face of the Trump administration’s retreat in the fight against climate change, the European Union unswervingly reaffirmed its commitment to the decarbonization goal of the Paris Agreement. China followed closely. The two became the main pillars supporting the completion of the Paris Climate Agreement, which attracted Biden’s government returning to this great cause.
Frans Timmermans, first vice-president of the European Commission and head of the Green Agreement Convention, said that the EU was no longer the almost sole standard-bearer in the fight against climate change. This deserved celebration. In an interview with the National newspaper, Timmermans mentioned the ambitious climate goals that the United Kingdom, China and the United States might propose in the next few months, saying, “If anyone can surpass us, that’s great.”
The EU has no reason to be confident. No matter how green they are, what is going on is the industrial revolution, which is very likely to determine the ranking of the global economic powers in the middle of the 21st century. In recent years, the European Union seemed to have easily lost its advantages in mobile phones and other leading development areas, or failed to catch up with the industrial development train of Internet 2.0 and the huge and profitable digital data development. The EU will have to deal with international competition from the United States, China or any other country. China is already a leader in many technologies as Chinese companies produce more than 70% of the world’s solar panels, 69% of lithium batteries and 45% of wind turbines.
Therefore, in the coming decades, it is not enough to set ambitious goals. It is also vital to remain competitive in the new economic field that the green revolution is about to set off.