(2017-03-09)China's lawmakers and political advisers are likely to have climate change and environmental protection high on their agenda during the ongoing annual two sessions in Beijing, according to a senior European Parliament member.
"These are urgent topics for the 21st century and the discussions are critical for China to transform itself into a low-carbon economy," said Jo Leinen, chairman of the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with China.
The most pressing issue facing the country today is air pollution, which is mostly derived from transportation and industry, he said, adding that China should tackle its environmental challenges swiftly in order to offer better living conditions to its people and future generations.
Leinen, a specialist in climate change and low-carbon economies, described China's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) as "breathtaking" and said it showed the country was moving in the right direction.
Awareness of environmental protection and the importance of tackling climate change has obviously improved greatly at the provincial and local level, he said.
Leinen commended President Xi Jinping's concept of creating an ecological civilization and praised the guiding principles of green development, inclusiveness, innovation and openness.
"All these innovative concepts and development principles are significant and it is in the interests of China to continue in such a direction," he said. "This is also good for the rest of the world."
The European Union and China are set to work even more closely together on climate change and environmental protection in the future, according to Leinen.
Every year, an EU-China summit is held, with this year's meeting set to take place in Brussels.
"I think both sides should announce a joint statement at this year's summit to deepen cooperation on the low-carbon economy and green technology cooperation," he said.
With US President Donald Trump reportedly skeptical about climate change, a Sino-EU statement would send a "strong message" about bilateral climate change cooperation, Leinen said.
"This statement should be separate from the joint communique," He said.
"Both sides are willing to do this and this will inject added confidence to the world that the Paris Agreement on climate change will be implemented, while the US possibly backslides."