Macron says Europe-China climate cooperation ‘decisive’

China’s President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron during the China International Import Expo in Shanghai on november 5, 2019. (File/AFP)
Updated 05 November 2019

Macron says Europe-China climate cooperation ‘decisive’

  • The 2015 Paris climate agreement encourages countries to make stronger pledges if they are able to do so
  • China and France pledged at this year’s G20 summit to “update” their contributions against climate change

SHANGHAI: Cooperation between Europe and China on reducing climate-warming emissions will be “decisive,” French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday, after the Trump administration filed paperwork to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement.

The US move is the first formal step in a one-year process to exit the global pact to fight climate change, part of a broader strategy by Trump to reduce red tape on American industry.

But it comes at a time scientists and many world governments are urging rapid action to avoid the worst impacts of global warming.

China and France pledged at this year’s G20 summit to “update” their contributions against climate change beyond their current ones to reflect “their highest possible ambition.”

The 2015 Paris climate agreement encourages countries to make stronger pledges if they are able to do so.

Speaking in Shanghai at a major trade fair, just after a keynote address by Chinese President Xi Jinping, Macron said commitments will need to be enhanced.

“If we want to be in compliance with the Paris agreement, we will need next year to enhance our commitments to reduce emissions, and we must confirm new commitments for 2030 and 2050,” he said.

“The cooperation between China and the European Union in this respect is decisive,” Macron added. “Next year, we need, in the agenda of enhancement, to be collectively up to the task.”

Speaking to reporters earlier, a French presidential office official expressed regret at the US move, and said Macron and Xi will reaffirm their commitment to the Paris agreement.

“We regret this and this only makes the Franco-Chinese partnership on the climate and biodiversity more necessary,” the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said.

“The text that will be signed tomorrow includes a paragraph on the irreversibility of the Paris agreement.”

Macron and Xi are due to hold a formal meeting in Beijing on Wednesday.

China aims to bring emissions to a peak by “around 2030” and raise the share of non-fossil fuels in its total energy mix to 20 percent by the end of the next decade, up from 15 percent in 2020.

The United States is the first country to say it will withdraw from the deal, but 10 other countries have failed to ratify it, including Turkey, Iran and Iraq.


Court says EU states must label Israeli settlement products

Updated 13 min 13 sec ago

Court says EU states must label Israeli settlement products

  • Consumers will be able to make choices based on ethical considerations and those relating to the observance of international law
  • The ECJ ruling effectively backs the EU guidelines issued in 2015 on labelling goods from Israeli-occupied areas

BRUSSELS: The European Union’s top court ruled Tuesday that EU countries must identify products made in Israeli settlements on their labels, in a decision that was welcomed by rights groups but sparked anger in Israel.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) said that when products come from an Israeli settlement, their labels must provide an “indication of that provenance” so that consumers can make “informed choices” when they shop.
The EU rejects Israeli settlement expansion, saying it undermines the hopes for a two-state solution by gobbling up lands claimed by the Palestinians. Israel says the labeling is unfair and discriminatory and says other countries involved in disputes over land are not similarly sanctioned.
The volume of settlement goods coming into Europe, including olive oil, fruit and wine but also industrial products, is relatively small compared to the political significance of the court ruling. It is estimated to affect about 1% of imports from Israel, which amount to about 15 billion euros ($16.5 billion) a year.
The EU wants any produce made in the settlements to be easily identifiable to shoppers and insists that it must not carry the generic “Made in Israel” tag.
Israel captured the West Bank and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and began settling both areas shortly afterward. The Palestinians claim both areas as parts of a future state, a position that has global support.
The international community opposes settlement construction and they are consider illegal under international law. Their continued growth is seen to undermine the establishment of an independent Palestine alongside Israel. Today, nearly 700,000 Israelis live in the two areas, almost 10% of the country’s Jewish population.
The ECJ underlined that settlements “give concrete expression to a policy of population transfer conducted by that State outside its territory, in violation of the rules of general international humanitarian law.”
It said any failure to identify the point of origin of produce meant that “consumers have no way of knowing, in the absence of any information capable of enlightening them in that respect, that a foodstuff comes from a locality or a set of localities constituting a settlement established in one of those territories in breach of the rules of international humanitarian law.”
It’s not entirely clear, however, how the ruling will be enforced because the real origin of the produce is not always easy to identify, experts say.
The European Commission said it’s up to individual EU countries to ensure that labels are correct, but that the origin of settlement produce must be made known in a way that is “not misleading to the consumer.”

An Israeli settler prepares olive oil containers at the Achia Olive press factory in the Jewish settlement of Shilo in the occupied West Bank. (File AFP)

Human Rights Watch welcomed the ruling. The rights watchdog’s EU Director, Lotte Leicht, said it’s “an important step toward EU member states upholding their duty not to participate in the fiction that illegal settlements are part of Israel.”
Oxfam’s director in the Palestinian territories, Shane Stevenson, said settlements “are violating the rights and freedoms of Palestinians” and that “consumers have a right to know the origin of the products they purchase, and the impact these purchases have on people’s lives.”
Israel’s Foreign Ministry rejected the ruling, saying it set a “double standard” that unfairly singles out Israel when there are dozens of territorial disputes worldwide.
“The European Court of Justice’s ruling is unacceptable both morally and in principle,” said Foreign Minister Israel Katz. “I intend to work with European foreign ministers to prevent the implementation of this gravely flawed policy.”
The head of the local settler council, Israel Ganz, said the ruling is part of “a double standard that discriminates against Jews living and working in their homeland of thousands of years. This decision will directly hurt the Arab population working at these factories, and manufacturing these products.”
Ganz said he did not expect sales to be hurt as settlement products are of “high standards.”
Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian official, welcomed the ruling as a “first step” and encouraged Europe to ban settlement products altogether. “If they do not allow these illegal products to enter European soil, then that would really serve the cause of justice,” she said.
The case came to court after an Israeli winery based in a settlement near Jerusalem contested France’s application of a previous ECJ court ruling on the labeling. That ruling had backed the use of origin-identifying tags but did not make them legally binding.
The winery’s director, Yaakov Berg, said “the Winery is proud of its contribution to combating this decision and intends to continue the struggle. We are happy to see the support of all the relevant people in Israel and the United States.”
EU Commission Spokeswoman Mina Andreeva noted that Israel has a special trading relationship with the EU, with products originating in its internationally recognized borders benefiting from preferential tariff treatment.
“This situation will remain unchanged,” she said. “The EU does not support any form of boycott or sanctions against Israel.”
How to do business in or with the Israeli settlements has been a tricky issue for companies before. Airbnb stopped listings there last year, before reversing its decision .