Proposals by the European Union to establish a “carbon border tax” will damage the global community’s willingness to take joint action against climate change, China said on Wednesday.
The EU’s new climate commissioner, Frans Timmermans, said in October that research would begin on the new tax, which is aimed at protecting European firms from unfair competition by raising the cost of products from countries that fail to take adequate action against climate change.But Europe’s proposals, together with the decision by US President Donald Trump to withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement, would seriously harm international efforts to tackle global warming, according to Zhao Yingmin, China’s vice-minister for the environment.
“We need to send a strong political signal to uphold multilateralism,” he said. “We need to prevent unilateralism and protectionism from hurting global growth expectations and the will of countries to combat climate change together.”
Any border tax would likely raise the price of Chinese goods in the European market, and Beijing believes it would violate a core principle of the Paris agreement on climate change, which says richer countries should bear the greater responsibility for cutting emissions.
As part of its efforts to fight global warming, China – the world’s largest emitter of climate warming greenhouse gas – has pledged to bring its emissions to a peak by “around 2030”.
Zhao said the country had also cut levels of carbon intensity – the amount produced per unit of economic growth – by 48.5 per cent from 2005 to 2018, two years ahead of schedule.
But the United States says the Paris accord is unfair to American firms because it does not do enough to tackle emissions from competitors in China and India.
China’s total annual emissions stood at about 14 gigatonnes last year, according to a study published by the United Nations this week, more than twice the US level. China’s per capita emissions are about the same as Japan’s and the European Union’s.