The Role of Civil Society Dialogue in the EU-China Cooperation on Renewable Energy

5 / 2012
Johanna van Vrede

Expanding EU-China institutional cooperation in the energy sector has been matched by a parallel process of stronger economic ties between European and Chinese companies in the renewable energy (RE) sector (particularly wind and photovoltaics). While the foundation of early EU-China institutional relations was based primarily on trade cooperation, international efforts to mitigate climate change and the common challenge of decreasing energy dependence in a sustainable manner brought a new dimension to their partnership in the energy sector in the mid 90s. Although the role of EU-China energy cooperation has grown tremendously in the context of EU external trade policy and EU strategy to boost its energy independence and international climate policy, the potential of civil society collaboration in this partnership has remained rather unexploited. Based on major civil society initiatives in the RE field that have been developed in recent years, this policy brief argues that civil society dialogue between China and EU could be an important driving force in deepening EU-China cooperation on RE and a bridge towards a more sustainable future.