However, the task does not seem easy, especially in light of the large Chinese presence in this sector in particular, and the dependence of Western economies on technologies dominated by Chinese companies (notably with regard to solar energy and batteries), in the “green transformation” strategy, and therefore these economies face the dilemma of reducing reliance on Chinese supply chains.
As a result, Europe seems more cautious than the United States about “separating” from Beijing or reducing its economic dependence, especially since China “almost controls the solar energy supply chain in the world, and much of the world’s mineral processing capacity needed for the environmentally friendly transformation process.
In this context, the British newspaper “Financial Times” quoted the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Lizzie Schrenemacher, warning that “the green transition in Europe will be impossible without China”, at a time when the European Union is trying to sever some of its economic ties with Beijing. .
The Dutch minister referred to Chinese progress in terms of research and development in this field, and it is therefore very difficult to separate completely from Beijing, explaining that her country “has a strong commercial relationship with China”. “We need each other to make our economies more sustainable and for the green transition,” she added.
Schrenemacher, who is due to visit China before the end of the year with a trade delegation, said: “Reducing strategic dependencies doesn’t mean we should stop trading altogether as long as we diversify our sources and diversify our value chains.” “The EU should think twice before looking at European investments in cutting-edge technologies in China, an issue G7 leaders also discussed this month.” “Economic security forces are still in the hands of national governments.”
Commenting on this, Jacob Kierkegaard, Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, points out in exclusive statements to “Economy Sky News Arabia” that “the importance of the green transition and the need to achieve global cooperation on decarbonization are among the most important issues guiding the political strategy of the European Union” in terms of cooperation with China.
He clarified that Europe does not seek “separation”, but rather, as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen calls it, “risk reduction”, which essentially means that the European Union will continue to work with China in areas where it is beneficial for the European Union to do so, while trying to avoid developing excessive economic dependencies.
“However, on the issue of the green transition, it is clear that China today has a fairly dominant position globally in probably the most important sector of the green economy, in terms of solar photovoltaic manufacturing,” adds he.
Thus, this means – according to Kierkegaard – that if the European Union wants to achieve its ambitious climate objectives for the year 2030, it will have to import a very large quantity of solar panels produced in China, which it will agree to do despite this. “dependency” on China to try to achieve climate goals.
Likewise, it is clear that “decoupling from China will not help the world cooperate to achieve the goals of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2050, with China now narrowly becoming the world’s largest emitter. “.
According to the latest reports from research firm Wood Mackenzie, Beijing’s solar power exports grew (on an annual basis) by 64% in 2022, in light of a number of key factors; The most important of them: Rising global demand under green transition strategies. China’s large manufacturing capabilities and government support for the industry. Reduced material costs. Rising energy prices (due to the war in Ukraine) have accelerated efforts to use renewable energy.
According to this increase, Beijing’s revenue from exports of solar cells, panels and chips reached $52 billion in 2022, up from $32 billion in 2021.
Europe is the largest market for Chinese solar energy exports, controlling 56% of export volume.
Green transition plans in Europe
For her part, Elizabeth Carter, an academic specializing in European affairs, associate professor at the University of New Hampshire, acknowledges in exclusive statements to “Sky News Arabia Economy” the fact that Europe’s pursuit of the separation of with China would negatively affect the continent’s plans for a green transition.
This is justified by referring to the dominance of Beijing on the market for the production of solar panels, and to the fact that Europe has become very dependent on imports from China in this context in particular.
“Ideally, Europe will open more production facilities to reduce its dependence on China, but this may take a long time,” the Academy for European Affairs added.
While in the short term, “they may try to source green production from another product, which may be linked to higher prices,” according to Carter.
It should be noted that the total volume of trade between the European Union and China increased by around 23% in 2022 compared to 2021, reaching 856.3 billion euros (912.6 billion dollars), according to Eurostat.
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