The big challenge for the European Green Deal is diplomatic. Europe accounts for around 9.1% of global carbon dioxide emissions, compared with 30% for China and 14% for the US. Even if Europe fully implements the Green Deal, it will be for naught if China, the US, and other regions fail to match its efforts. European leaders therefore rightly treat diplomacy as crucial to the Green Deal’s success.

Consider China. China is the world’s leading emitter of CO2 (though only half of America’s emissions per person). China by itself will determine the world’s climate future. On one hand, Chinese leaders know that their country is extremely vulnerable to climate change and at risk of becoming diplomatically isolated if it fails to decarbonize. Government hardliners and China’s coal lobby are resisting decarbonization. European diplomacy can make the difference if it offers China a clear and positive partnership: working together on sustainable Eurasian infrastructure, development, and technology, in the context of a Chinese Green Deal alongside Europe’s. Such a partnership would hugely benefit Europe, China, and the dozens of Eurasian countries in between, and indeed the entire world.

The EU has promised to develop stronger international climate diplomacy strategies focused on persuading other nations to adopt "green deal" type strategies, with plans to "mobilize all channels," including the U.N., G7, G20 and World Trade Organization, to advocate bolder climate action — particularly ahead of COP26 in Glasgow.

Maintaining good international relations while pushing its climate agenda will be a balancing act, predicted the European Corporate Leaders Group of top businesses. A key challenge for Europe will be to manage and develop its trade relationships to secure and incentivize the transition to a zero-carbon economy, whilst not creating unnecessary confrontations with other economies.

The Green Deal has received a largely positive reaction from NGOs and business groups, who in particular welcomed the influence it could have on global progress on carbon emissions, even if some activists insist it should go further.

But many in the green business sector remain nervous about translating the long-term ambition of the strategy — however laudable — into concrete action on the ground in the next few years. After all, Europe is already off track to meet its current 2030 decarbonization targets, and meeting the more ambitious goals will require real action almost immediately.

Implementing the deal will require fast and far-reaching legislation across a range of sectors. For the European Green Deal to be effective, it will need to be supplemented by ambitious near-term measures to accelerate emission cuts in the buildings, transport and energy, as well as greening the financial system. These near-term priorities must be urgently accompanied by an ambitious EU-wide innovation program to test critical solutions like carbon capture and storage, hydrogen and new land use management techniques. These will be key to cutting emissions in hard to treat sectors, such as heavy industry and long-distance transport.

The EU green deal diplomacy will be focused on convincing and supporting others to take on their share of promoting more sustainable development. By setting a credible example, and following-up with diplomacy, trade policy, development support and other external policies, the EU can be an effective advocate. The Commission and the High Representative will work closely with Member States to mobilise all diplomatic channels both bilateral and multilateral – including the United Nations, the G7, G20, the World Trade Organization and other relevant international fora. The EU will continue to ensure that the Paris Agreement remains the indispensable multilateral framework for tackling climate change. As the EU's share of global emissions is falling, comparable action and increased efforts by other regions will be critical for addressing the global climate challenge in a meaningful way.

The debate on climate ambition will intensify in the coming months in line with the Paris Agreement provisions for regular stocktaking and updates. The Conference of Parties in Glasgow in 2020 will be an important milestone before the global stock take in 2023. It will assess progress towards achieving long-term goals. As it currently stands, it is clear that the level of global ambition is insufficient. The EU will engage more intensely with all partners to increase the collective effort and help them to revise and implement their nationally determined contributions and devise ambitious long-term strategies. In parallel, the EU will step up bilateral engagement with partner countries and, where necessary, establish innovative forms of engagement. The EU will continue to engage with the economies of the G20 that are responsible for 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Stepping up the level of climate action taken by international partners requires tailor-made geographic strategies that reflect different contexts and local needs – for example for current and future big emitters, for the least developed countries, and for small island developing states. The EU is also working with global partners to develop international carbon markets as a key tool to create economic incentives for climate action. The EU will put emphasis on supporting its immediate neighbours. The ecological transition for Europe can only be fully effective if the EU’s immediate neighbourhood also takes effective action. Work is underway on a green agenda for the Western Balkans. The Commission and the High Representative are also envisaging a number of strong environment, energy and climate partnerships with the Southern Neighbourhood and within the Eastern Partnership.

The 2020 EU-China summits in Beijing and Leipzig will be an opportunity to reinforce the partnership between the EU and China on climate and environmental issues, notably ahead of the Kunming Biodiversity Conference, and the Conference of Parties in Glasgow. Likewise, the forthcoming Comprehensive Strategy with Africa, and the 2020 summit between the African Union and the EU, should make climate and environmental issues key strands in relations between the two continents. In particular, the Africa Europe Alliance for sustainable investment and jobs will seek to unlock Africa's potential to make rapid progress towards a green and circular economy including sustainable energy and food systems and smart cities. The EU will strengthen its engagement with Africa for the wider deployment and trade of sustainable and clean energy. Renewable energy and energy efficiency, for example for clean cooking, are key to closing the energy access gap in Africa while delivering the required reduction in CO2. The EU will launch a “NaturAfrica” initiative to tackle biodiversity loss by creating a network of protected areas to protect wildlife and offer opportunities in green sectors for local populations. More generally, the EU will use its diplomatic and financial tools to ensure that green alliances are part of its relations with Africa and other partner countries and regions, particularly in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific. The EU should also reinforce current initiatives and engage with third countries on cross-cutting climate and environment issues. This may include ending global fossil fuel subsidies in line with G20 commitments, phasing-out financing by multilateral institutions of fossil fuel infrastructure, strengthening sustainable financing, phasing out all new coal plant construction, and action to reduce methane emissions. The EU also recognises that the global climate and environmental challenges are a significant threat multiplier and a source of instability. The ecological transition will reshape geopolitics, including global economic, trade and security interests. This will create challenges for a number of states and societies. The EU will work with all partners to increase climate and environmental resilience to prevent these challenges from becoming sources of conflict, food insecurity, population displacement and forced migration, and support a just transition globally. Climate policy implications should become an integral part of the EU’s thinking and action on external issues, including in the context of the Common Security and Defence Policy. Trade policy can support the EU’s ecological transition. It serves as a platform to engage with trading partners on climate and environmental action. Commitments to sustainability have been continuously strengthened in EU trade agreements, in particular with regard to enhancing climate change action. The Commission has also been stepping up efforts to implement and enforce the sustainable development commitments of EU trade agreements, and these efforts will be further enhanced with the appointment of a Chief Trade Enforcement Officer. On climate change more specifically, the EU’s most recent agreements all include a binding commitment of the Parties to ratify and effectively implement the Paris Agreement. The Commission will propose to make the respect of the Paris agreement an essential element for all future comprehensive trade agreements. The EU’s trade policy facilitates trade and investment in green goods and services and promotes climate-friendly public procurement. Trade policy also needs to ensure undistorted, fair trade and investment in raw materials that the EU economy needs for the green transition. It can help address harmful practices such as illegal logging, enhance regulatory cooperation promote EU standards and remove non-tariff barriers in the renewable energy sector. All chemicals, materials, food and other products that are placed on the European market must fully comply with relevant EU regulations and standards. The EU should use its expertise in “green” regulation to encourage partners to design similar rules that are as ambitious as the EU’s rules, thus facilitating trade and enhancing environment protection and climate mitigation in these countries. As the world’s largest single market, the EU can set standards that apply across global value chains. The Commission will continue to work on new standards for sustainable growth and use its economic weight to shape international standards that are in line with EU environmental and climate ambitions. It will work to facilitate trade in environmental goods and services, in bilateral and multilateral forums, and in supporting open and attractive EU and global markets for sustainable products. It will work with global partners to ensure the EU’s resource security and reliable access to strategic raw materials. The EU’s international cooperation and partnership policy should continue to help channel both public and private funds to achieve the transition. While the EU and its Member States remain the world's leading donors of development assistance and provide over 40% of the world's public climate finance. As public funds will not suffice, the EU and its Member States will coordinate their support to engage with partners to bridge the funding gap by mobilising private finance. The Commission proposal for a Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument proposes to allocate a target of 25% of its budget to climate-related objectives. The Commission will also support the commitment made by national public financial resources to improve the investment climate and achieve contributions from the private sector. This work will need to be accompanied by opportunities to de-risk investments in sustainable development through tools such as funding guarantees and blended financing. To mobilise international investors, the EU will also remain at the forefront of efforts to set up a financial system that supports global sustainable growth. The EU will build on the International Platform on Sustainable Finance that was recently established to coordinate efforts on environmentally sustainable finance initiatives such as taxonomies, disclosures, standards and labels. The Commission will also encourage discussions at other international fora, in particular the G7 and G20

International Fora 2020

  • U.N.
  • G7
  • G20
  • World Trade Organization
  • COP26 in Glasgow.
  • Green agenda for the Western Balkans
  • Southern Neighbourhood
  • Eastern Partnership.
  • EU-China summits in Beijing and Leipzig
  • Kunming Biodiversity Conference
  • 2020 summit between the African Union and the EU
  • Africa Europe Alliance for sustainable investment and jobs
  • “NaturAfrica” Initiative

Top 10 Nations with the highest CO2 emissions

  1. China
  2. United States
  3. European Union
  4. India
  5. Russia
  6. Japan
  7. Germany
  8. South Korea
  9. Iran
  10. Saudi Arabia

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