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France urges China and EU to unite to protect Paris climate deal


China and the European Union should set aside differences on trade and strengthen cooperation on climate change to “act as a shield” to protect the landmark Paris climate accord, France’s environment minister said. In an interview, French Minister for Ecological and Inclusive Transition Nicolas Hulot also urged China to step up its efforts towards a greener economy and take a lead role alongside France to implement the international climate accord reached in the French capital two years ago and now under threat from the US’ withdrawal. “It is China and the EU that have taken the leadership role on climate issues and they have to continue to play the leadership role in the implementation of the Paris Agreement … And if they coordinate they will be able to cover much larger areas,” he said during a brief trip to Hong Kong on Monday. The EU and China failed to agree an official climate statement during a bilateral summit in June over a long-standing trade spat, underlining their tense relationship and casting a shadow over their commitments to fighting global warming together in the absence of the US. Hulot said France and China held their first senior official dialogue on the low-carbon economy in June and companies from both countries were teaming up on various projects related to energy efficiency, sustainable cities, the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy, carbon markets and green financing. The minister said the US’ retreat from the Paris deal was not a catastrophe even though it dealt a heavy blow to the global effort on climate change and had caused difficulties for poor countries most vulnerable to global warming. In response to comments by senior White House officials who said the US might reconsider its stance on the Paris agreement if other countries agreed to accommodate Washington’s concerns over economic costs and energy security, Hulot said the Paris deal was not renegotiable.

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