Download publication

External Publication

Climate policy in China, the European Union and the United States: Main drivers and prospects for the future

China, the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) are responsible for the majority of global emissions of greenhouse gases, and produce about half of global GDP. Hence, their climate policies not only determine the success of global efforts to curb future emissions of greenhouse gases, but also affect policy developments in other countries. The aim of this report is to assist policy-makers, climate change negotiators and analysts to understand the domestic constraints and opportunities facing each jurisdiction, and to identify areas of common interest or concern between the three jurisdictions.

By: , , , , , and Date: December 6, 2016 Topic: Energy & Climate

Key findings

China

  • China will likely meet the targets in its nationally determined contribution (NDC) to peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 at the latest, and to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 60-65 per cent by 2030 compared with 2005.
  • China could improve incentives and mechanisms for its state-owned enterprises and the provinces to comply with targets set at national level. It could also allocate adequate resources to monitor compliance to ensure the effective and efficient implementation of existing and future Chinese climate and energy policies.
  • Further state measures to support the accelerated scale-up of renewable energy sources offer strong potential for climate mitigation in China, as they lead to industrial modernisation and innovation, job creation, lower air pollution and improved energy security.
  • Energy markets in China should be reformed to avoid the problem of local governments and market operators favouring coal-fired utilities over renewable sources.
  • Phasing out high-carbon and energy-intensive industries will be a significant challenge for China. Nevertheless, it has committed significant financial resources to manage this.
  • China will need to address rising non-CO2 greenhouse gases, which are likely to continue to grow beyond 2030 due to expected higher production and application of fertilisers, expansion in the power sector, and coal-mining and because current policies are likely to be insufficient to address non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions.

European Union

  • The EU will need to increase its current ambition and ensure effective policy implementation in order to meet its 2030 targets.
  • The EU benefits from stable climate policies and strong leadership from the European Commission. Climate policies already in place commit the EU to continued reduction in emissions until 2030 and a constant annual reduction factor under the EU emissions trading system will bring the issuance of new allowances to zero by 2067. Further to this, and despite other challenges such as migration and the ongoing economic issues, the European Commission has proved itself capable of driving the climate policy agenda.
  • The EU must deal effectively with resistance to climate change policies from Member States with large fossil fuel resources and/or large pollution-intensive sectors as it seeks to implement the Energy Union and to reform other key policy instruments geared to achieving existing climate targets for 2020 and 2030.
  • The EU needs to focus on low-carbon innovation. Since 2009 research and development spending on low-carbon innovation has been decreasing, though the EU is working to improve this through increased spending targets and increases in funding for clean energy research under the Horizon 2020 programme.

United States

  • In order to meet the target in its NDC, the US would not only have to increase the ambition of emissions reductions from its power sector, but also for its industry and transport sectors, amongst others.
  • President-elect Trump has announced that he will repeal the Clean Power Plan and dismantle federal climate policy in general. This is unlikely to be a straightforward, quick or easy process. However, the uncertainty created by Donald Trump is likely to stall action under the Clean Power Plan and the Climate Action Plan in the short-term.
  • The importance of energy-intensive industries to the US economy affects the government’s willingness to implement ambitious policies to reduce emissions and also gives industrial interests a strong voice in US climate policy-making.
  • A number of US States support action on climate change and have the potential to deliver significant emissions reductions. For example, 19 States committed to continue to submit plans to comply with the Clean Power Plan despite the stay by the Supreme Court. Together the 19 represent 36 per cent of the emissions reductions that would be delivered by the Clean Power Plan in the interim period (2022-2029), and 30 per cent of the cuts expected by 2030 and beyond. Nevertheless, Donald Trump’s election as president creates uncertainty and progress on climate policy would need to be driven by State and other local initiatives during his term.
View comments
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

Book/Special report

Developing the EU long term climate strategy

To ensure that EU climate policy is in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement, and takes into account substantial recent shifts in the technical and political framework, the EU needs a new long-term climate strategy that will supersede the 2050 Roadmap that was issued in 2011.

By: Georg Zachmann and Andrei Marcu Topic: Energy & Climate Date: April 18, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Podcast

Podcast

Brexit consequences for EU climate and energy policy

Bruegel fellow Georg Zachmann joins Richard Tol, professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Sussex, and Pieter-Willem Lemmens, head of analysis at the climate policy think-tank Sandbag, for this episode of 'The Sound of Economics', to discuss the impact of Brexit on climate and energy policy in the European Union.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Energy & Climate Date: February 15, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Opinion

Climate policies risk increasing social inequality

The aggressive political interventions needed to effectively counteract climate change will make the rich richer and the poor poorer, if social concerns are not given greater prominence in policy debates.

By: Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate Date: February 8, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

EU budget: Expectations vs reality

The public's impressions of where money is spent in the European Union can often be wide of the mark. But whether this is a result of wishful thinking or just a lack of information remains unclear.

By: Yana Myachenkova Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: January 29, 2018
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

EU long term climate change strategy

This meeting, which will take place in Czestochowa, is part of the project “Developing the EU long-term climate strategy”.

Topic: Energy & Climate Location: Czestochowa, Poland Date: January 29, 2018
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

EU Long Term Climate Change Strategy

This meeting, which will take place in Copenhagen, is part of the project “Developing the EU long-term climate strategy".

Topic: Energy & Climate Location: Copenhagen, Denmark Date: January 26, 2018
Read article More on this topic

Blog Post

Climate change adds to risk for banks, but EU lending proposals will do more harm than good

Climate change is a relevant risk factor for the banking sector, but the European Commission's plan to lower capital requirements for greener investments is irresponsible in encouraging banks to forego proper risk management.

By: Arnoud Boot and Dirk Schoenmaker Topic: Energy & Climate Date: January 16, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Trump and the Paris Agreement: better out than in

It would be better for international climate governance if Trump stays out of the Paris Agreement, rather than stays in with a new, weakened deal.

By: Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate Date: September 18, 2017
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Opinion

G20 climate commitments must be turned into action

The G20 is just about holding together in difficult times, but the world's leading economies need to make good on their climate promises. Major projects such as China's One Belt One Road initiative and the G20 Compact for Africa must incorporate sustainability criteria, or it will be impossible to meet the Paris goals.

By: Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: August 17, 2017
Read article More on this topic

Blog Post

Adieu Paris: what’s next for climate policy if Trump ditches the Paris Agreement?

US President Trump has made it clear that he is not happy with the Paris Agreement. This week he will announce whether the US will withdraw from the Agreement altogether. What might that mean for the global fight against climate change? US decarbonisation is already well underway but the EU would need to step up and defend global climate governance.

By: Simone Tagliapietra and Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate Date: May 30, 2017
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Trump’s energy policy: America first, climate last?

This event seeked to discuss the potential way forward for the US energy and climate policy, and its implications for both global energy markets and global climate change mitigation efforts.

Speakers: Kristine Berzina, Tim Boersma, Connie Hedegaard, Simone Tagliapietra and Zhang Xumin Topic: Energy & Climate Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: March 7, 2017
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Trump’s Energy Policy: America First, Climate Last?

What will the new US administration mean for the fight against global warming? Climate change is not even mentioned in the ‘‘America First Energy Plan’’, and Simone Tagliapietra fears a reversal of recent positive steps.

By: Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate Date: February 28, 2017
Load more posts