China and Germany climate collaboration and scaling up potential IKI projects

Photo: ©GIZ

Photo: ©GIZ

On the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Sino-German Climate Partnership, experts from Chinese and German government ministries, institutions, and organizations met in Beijing, China to enable knowledge transfer and exchange on shared challenges, synergies and scaling-up potential of IKI projects. The workshop was hosted by the Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE).

Participants at the workshop discussed a wide range of matters within the context of Sino-German cooperation and climate policy implementation, such as energy, biodiversity, urbanization, transport, carbon markets, and regional development. The experience and ideas exchanged provided a litany of lessons learned for both sides to incorporate into policy design and implementation going forward. Furthermore, the workshop served as a platform to assess the successes of the partnership and demonstrate how climate collaboration is one of the cornerstones of strengthening the bilateral relationship between the two nations. The workshop takes place once in a year, either in Germany or in China.

"Through this cooperation, [Germany] has deepened its understanding of China's needs, problems, and challenges in these fields," said Stephan Contius, Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at Germany's Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).  "Our cooperation is the driver for strategic dialogue between our two countries."

Mr. Chen Zhihua, Director of the Division of International Cooperation, Department of Climate Change from the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) emphasized the importance of the intensive policy exchange and called for an integrated approach for alliance of the goals on low carbon transition and climate mitigation and adaptation.

A history of cooperation through the IKI

China and Germany have been working together closely on issues surrounding climate change for almost two decades, including the founding of this partnership in 2009. Since then, nearly 30 IKI projects have been carried out in China.

The focus of current cooperation is the exchange on the implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) that arose from the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015. More specifically, China has set NDC goals of reaching peak CO2 levels before 2030, lowering emissions per unit of GDP by 60 to 65 percent from 2005 levels, increasing non-fossil fuel use to 20 percent, and increasing forestation by 4.5 billion cubic meters.

Regular IKI project workshops and other events have been held not only to strengthen bilateral cooperation and understanding, but also to crucially learn from one another's experiences, to most effectively and efficiently combat climate change and adapt to its impacts.

Germany has pledged to cut carbon emissions up to 95 percent from 1990 levels and ensured at least 80 percent of its energy consumption come from renewable source by mid-century. Meanwhile, China has launched an ambitious and comprehensive climate change action plan described above in accordance with the global goal of keeping global temperature rise below 2/1.5 degrees Celsius. While the two countries have different specific goals, the Sino-German partnership aims to foster a reciprocal relationship of knowledge- and experience-sharing to develop best practices that can be potentially transferred elsewhere.

"China is a very important implementation partner for IKI, because China can really make a difference and be a source of inspiration for other countries," said Dr. Philipp Behrens, Head of Division International Climate Initiative of BMU.

Workshop Outcomes

The workshop as a preparatory event is part of the annual Working Group Meeting on Climate Change between Germany and China held on April 12, 2019. Much of the workshop involved discussing key areas of existing cooperation and potential for future cooperation between China and Germany.

The topic of NDC implementation, along with the transition to renewable energy, were also discussed, and with it the challenges for China, the country with the largest population in the world and the current biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.

"Coal-fired power plants are much younger in China than in Germany," noted Fu Sha, a research expert at China's National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation (NCSC). "There, the phase-out in China will face more problems, [and] support of a long-term strategy for the Chinese government means the promotion of best practices."

"There is great potential for Sino-German cooperation in the fields of energy and climate change, because Germany has experience in energy transition." added Dr. Kang Yanbing, Director of the Energy Sustainability Center of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). "Energy transition in China is of crucial significance for the promotion of green and low carbon development."

"We saw a lot of involved discussion and spirited debate here," said Dr. Alexander Fisher, Program Director for Climate Change Cooperation, Environment, and Climate Friendly Urban Development at GIZ China and the workshop's organizer. "I am confident that through exchanges like these we can not only strengthen collaboration between Germany and China but also serve as a model for other countries' efforts to cooperate on climate change and related pressing issues."