China and the UK have a broad foundation in energy cooperation:both have proposed carbon neutrality goals,both are currently facing energy transformation issues and pressures,and each has its own advantages in energy construction.On this broad basis,cooperation between China and the UK in the energy sector is currently strengthening,and the proportion of investment in the UK’s energy sector by Chinese companies is gradually expanding.
The UK started paying attention to climate change early on.In 2008,the United Kingdom officially promulgated the Climate Change Act,becoming the first country in the world to establish long-term emission reduction targets in legal form.In 2021,the UK hosted the COP26 conference and passed the Glasgow Climate Agreement,becoming one of the key conferences in the world to control climate change.According to relevant laws,the UK will achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.China also proposed its own carbon neutrality goal as early as 2020.In September 2020,the Chinese government announced its efforts to achieve carbon peak before 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060.
The proposal of carbon reduction and carbon neutrality goals has established a political foundation for energy cooperation between China and the UK.Chinese Ambassador to the UK Zheng Zeguang stated at the 6th China UK Economic and Trade Forum that China UK economic and trade cooperation still needs to be continuously strengthened,especially in areas such as clean energy,advanced materials,and high-end manufacturing.British Trade Ambassador to China,Lewis Neal,stated that China and the UK have broad cooperation prospects in areas such as education,healthcare,green transformation,financial services,and e-commerce.He hopes that companies from both countries can maintain an active attitude of participation and continuously make positive contributions to economic,trade,and investment exchanges between the two countries.
It is worth noting that the pressure and difficulties of energy transformation have further brought the cooperation process between the two sides closer.
Due to energy shortage pressure,the current UK government has had to make some kind of revision to the previously proposed energy transition roadmap.On September 20th,British Prime Minister Sunak stated that even by 2035,British consumers can still purchase gasoline and diesel cars.This also applies to the second-hand car market.Previously,the UK government’s net zero plan was to no longer allow the sale of traditional diesel and gasoline vehicles by 2030 and switch to electric vehicles.In terms of reducing emissions from household heating,Sunak pointed out that British households will not replace their heating boilers with heat pumps until 2035.The UK will not require mandatory dismantling of existing boilers and replacement with heat pumps.The change in carbon reduction policy has put pressure on the Sunak government from both domestic and international sources.
The respective advantages of China and the UK in new energy development have to some extent made the pressure of energy transformation a driving force for each other to further approach each other.
The cooperation between China and the UK in hydrogen energy development and research is a typical example in this regard.In April 2022,at the first”China UK Hydrogen Energy Cooperation Forum”,Wuhan,China,and Manchester,UK signed a memorandum of exchange and cooperation in the hydrogen energy industry,reaching a consensus on deepening cooperation in the hydrogen energy industry.The basis of hydrogen energy cooperation between Wuhan and Manchester is their industrial advantages.
Long Liangwen,Deputy Director of the Standing Committee of Wuhan Municipal People’s Congress,pointed out that both Wuhan and Manchester have similar geographical location,industrial structure and advantages in their respective countries.Wuhan has been laying out its hydrogen energy industry since 2005.Currently,it has gathered more than 40 key enterprises and research institutes in the hydrogen energy industry,and has built 9 hydrogen refueling stations with the service feature of”oil hydrogen electricity”multi energy comprehensive supply.It has a good foundation in hydrogen energy industry,academia,and research,as well as an industrial supporting environment.Manchester is the birthplace of Britain’s first industrial revolution.In recent years,it has attached great importance to the development of green hydrogen energy.In 2021,it released the first urban hydrogen energy strategy,and is actively promoting the construction of hydrogen energy projects such as industrial decarbonization project(HyNet),low carbon energy center,and fuel cell innovation center.The development concepts of the hydrogen energy industry in the two cities are in line,each with its own advantages and broad cooperation space.
Clive Memmott OBE,CEO of Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce,pointed out that Manchester and its surrounding areas have advantages in knowledge economy,energy,education and community,which can promote further cooperation between China and the UK in trade flow,investment flow and talent flow.
Hydrogen energy is one aspect.The strong alliance between traditional British enterprises and Chinese new energy enterprises is also promoting and enhancing the breadth and depth of energy cooperation between China and the UK.BYD is an advanced manufacturer of new energy vehicles in China,with significant industry advantages in electric vehicle batteries.The largest bus manufacturer in the UK,ADL,also has industry advantages in the manufacturing of complete vehicles and safety control.BYD and ADL have teamed up to establish a joint venture company.Currently,they have sold 1900 pure electric buses in the UK,covering more than 20 cities,with a cumulative mileage of over 110 million kilometers,equivalent to reducing carbon emissions by 119000 tons.In addition,BYD has also reached a cooperation agreement with British electric vehicle company Octopus Electric Vehicles.Octopus Electric Vehicles plans to purchase 5000 electric vehicles from BYD to serve the UK market in the next three years,promoting the development of green transportation in the UK.
The cooperation between China and the UK in the energy sector is strengthening.According to the 2023 UK Chinese Enterprise Development Report released by the UK China Chamber of Commerce,46%of surveyed Chinese companies stated that they will strengthen cooperation with UK companies in the energy sector in the future.Currently,among the Chinese funded enterprises operating in the UK,the proportion of energy related enterprises has ranked in the top 5.