A Chinese delegation visited Germany to participate in the seventh steering committee meeting of the Sino-German Track II Dialogue (T2D) on Climate Change and Sustainable Development and other meetings from 23 to 25 October 2023. Hosted by the German Environment Agency (UBA), the steering committee meeting saw exchanges between high-level experts from both countries, led by UBA President Prof Dirk Messner and National Centre for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation (NCSC) Director General Prof Xu Huaqing.
The Sino-German T2D on Climate Change and Sustainable Development has facilitated regular expert exchange to assist policy implementation and discussions at the ministerial level since 2020, being organised by UBA and NCSC with the support of the GIZ-implemented IKI project Sino-German Cooperation on Climate Change – Climate Partnership. In the second phase of the T2D, launched at the previous Steering Committee Meeting in April and running until 2026, working groups and clusters focus on technical discussions on six topic areas. With the majority of experts coming from UBA and NCSC, researchers from China’s National Panel of Experts on Climate Change, Oeko Institute, Tsinghua University, Agora Energiewende, and Institut Méditerranéen de Biodiversité et d’Ecologie marine et continentale are also involved in the T2D working groups and clusters.
On 23 October, UBA invited the Chinese delegation to its headquarters in Dessau-Roßlau for the hybrid steering committee meeting. Prof Messner and Prof Xu kicked off the exchange with their input on national and geopolitical developments affecting the current climate policy situation in Germany and China. Afterwards, the experts heading the six working groups and clusters part of the T2D’s second phase shared their team’s progress since April and discussed next steps. Subsequently, the experts exchanged views on an envisaged side event to be jointly held in the German Pavilion during COP 28 in Dubai, focusing on the expansion of renewable energy in the context of the Global Stocktake. With this event, both sides want to build on the successful side-event hosted at COP 27, attended by Special Envoy for International Climate Action at the Federal Foreign Office Jennifer Morgan and China’s Special Envoy for Climate Change Xie Zhenhua.
In their closing remarks, Prof Messner and NCSC Deputy Director General Mr Ma Aimin emphasised the need for a continued, focused cooperation under the T2D that builds on the good foundation already established. They also noted the significance of candid discussions in order to find common ground and define recommendations for policy makers. They agreed that the working groups and clusters now have to further concretise their action plans and intended outcomes while continuing to closely coordinate across teams.
Site visit to former lignite mine and exchange in Cottbus
On 24 October, the group visited a former lignite mine to learn about the history and current developments of lignite mining in the Lausitz region. To follow up on this visit, the group then met with representatives of Brandenburg University of Technology (BTU) Cottbus-Senftenberg and the former German Coal Commission to talk about German experiences in phasing out coal and the challenges posed by associated transition processes. Both BTU President Prof Gesine Grande as well as Mayor of Spremberg and member of the Coal Commission Ms Christine Herntier agreed that a strong network of political actors, businesses, academia, and civil society is a prerequisite for overcoming barriers to change and developing alternative, viable development paths for people and planet. The Chinese delegates expressed great interest in the German coal phase-out, inquiring about the work of the Coal Commission, the interplay between central and local governmental support, and the costs implied on businesses, society, and the environment.
Meeting with German Federal Foreign Office
Finally, the Chinese delegation met with Mr Norbert Gorißen, Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Action of the German Federal Foreign Office, on 25 October. In their meeting, the Chinese delegation shared the results of the Steering Committee Meeting and communicated its expectations for COP 28. Mr Gorißen expressed his appreciation for the T2D’s role in promoting bilateral exchanges on climate governance between China and Germany, agreed to promote the formulation of a resolution document to complete the Global Stocktake at COP 28, and suggested that the two sides discuss renewable energy development and consumption, energy storage, and other issues at the planned side-event in the German Pavilion.
With this T2D Steering Committee meeting being held in Germany, the next one will take place in China in Spring 2024. Until then, the working groups and clusters will continue to hold online discussions, forming a core component of the cooperation on climate change between Germany and China at the expert level.