Michael Howard: Climate change is by definition an issue that cannot be solved by any nation in isolation. It demands the involvement of all, and China, as the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, is clearly a crucial nation. It is worth recalling that the Paris summit of 2015 was preceded by two years of assiduous diplomatic engagement with China; without it, there would not have been a Paris Agreement. If Boris Johnson is to broker an agreement as powerful as that reached in Paris when he hosts next year’s UN climate summit in Glasgow, his government needs to stage a diplomatic operation at least as impressive as the French mounted under François Hollande and Laurent Fabius. He must also have constructive engagement with China as a central plank. This may appear at odds with the general direction of our relationship with China, but there it is. There can be no global climate change deal worth the name without building bridges to, and finding common ground with, the world’s biggest emitter. The government should waste no time in engaging seriously with China on climate change, not least because the European Union is already doing so. Xi’s announcement of a net-zero target came partly as a result of EU diplomatic outreach. If nothing changes, the EU-China axis could become the dominant one through next year, with the risk that trade opportunities fall to Danish wind energy companies, German electric car manufacturers and French financial houses rather than their British counterparts.
Times 4th Nov 2020 read more »