Written by Enrico D’Ambrogio,
The 10th Asia-Europe Parliamentary Meeting (ASEP10) will take place at the European Parliament in Brussels on 27 and 28 September 2018. The meeting will focus on climate change and environmental challenges. The final declaration will be transmitted to the 12th ASEM Summit, to be held in Brussels on 18 and 19 October 2018.
The first Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit was held in Bangkok, Thailand, in 1996. At that time it involved 26 partners. Since then, summits have been held every two years, alternately in the EU and Asia. After several rounds of enlargement, ASEM today consists of 53 members, including: 30 European countries (28 EU Member States, plus Norway and Switzerland); 18 Asian countries (the 10 members of ASEAN plus Bangladesh, China, Japan, India, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Mongolia and Pakistan); as well as Australia, Russia and New Zealand, together with the ASEAN secretariat and the EU. ASEM partners represent 60 % of the global population, 65 % of the global economy, 55 % of global trade and 75 % of global tourism.
ASEM is an informal and flexible inter-regional process of dialogue and cooperation that is based on equal partnership and aimed at enhancing mutual understanding. ASEM represents a forum for sharing information, and building confidence, rather than a tool for negotiation and problem-solving. Because of its informality, no formal or structured agenda is set out. The Asia-Europe Cooperation Framework (AECF), which ASEM established in 2000, defines its working methods. ASEM has no secretariat, and the Singapore-based Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) is its only institution, set up with the aim to promote mutual understanding through intellectual, cultural and people-to-people exchanges. The ASEM dialogue addresses issues of mutual interest, divided into three pillars: political; economic and financial; and social, cultural and educational. Besides the ASEM summits, numerous meetings take place among ministers and senior officials, as well as regular dialogues.
From ASEM to ASEP
The Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership (ASEP) meeting gives a democratic input to this process. It is the parliamentary dimension of the Asia-Europe Meeting and assembles parliamentarians from the ASEM countries and the European Parliament (EP). It is normally convened on a regular bi-annual basis alternately in Asia and in Europe before ASEM summits (it did not take place in 1998 and 2000). ASEP 10 is scheduled for 27-28 September 2018, when, for the first time, it will take place at the European Parliament in Brussels.
ASEP10 is to focus on climate change and environmental challenges as a priority for the planet, and on multilateralism as a fair methodology to shape advanced and equitable international relationships. The programme includes three discussion panels on climate change and the environment’s impact on economy, migration and security. The final declaration will be transmitted to the 12th ASEM summit, scheduled to take place in Brussels on 18-19 October 2018, which should also discuss the Commission and the Vice President/High Representative’s joint communication on ‘Connecting Europe and Asia – Building blocks for an EU Strategy‘ adopted on 19 September 2018.
Climate change: a challenge for Europe, Asia and the world
In the summer of 2018, both Asia and Europe experienced the consequences of extreme weather, in countries such as Greece, India, Japan and Sweden. Cooperation between the EU and Asia on addressing climate change challenges is of increasing importance, especially after the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. Asia’s rapid economic expansion is expected to increase its contribution to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, projected to rise from 40 % in 2016 to 48 % in 2030. A 6oC temperature rise above pre-industrial levels is projected for the Asian landmass by the end of the century, which may even pose an existential threat to some countries. Asia is the most disaster-prone region in the world and 10 Asian countries are among the top 20 in the Global Climate Risk Index. Climate change impacts may slash up to 9 % off south Asia’s economy every year by the end of this century.
The European Union is committed to climate action and has been in the front line of setting ambitious climate and energy targets, with a view to assisting the shift towards a low-carbon economy. The EU is working towards cutting domestic GHG emissions by at least 40 % by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, with a medium-term goal of achieving a 20 % reduction by 2020. The long-term objective for 2050 is a reduction of GHG emissions of 80-95% compared to 1990. To meet the 20% target for 2020, the EU has set up an Emissions Trading System (ETS), the world’s biggest scheme for trading greenhouse gas emissions allowances. It has been reviewed in line with the EU’s 2030 climate and energy targets. EU climate legislation includes the ETS (reformed with the introduction of a future market stability reserve), eco-design and energy labelling, the Effort-Sharing Decision/Regulation, the Renewable Energy Directive, the Energy Efficiency Directive, CO2 limits for cars and vans, and legislation on fluorinated greenhouse gases.
The EU is also actively engaged in the international efforts to reduce GHG emissions under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement. The EU is the world’s largest contributor of climate finance to developing countries: together with its Member States and the European Investment Bank, it contributed €20.2 billion in public climate finance to developing countries in 2016. The EU’s flagship initiative is the Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+). It also works closely with other countries and regions to advance dialogue and cooperation on climate change, for instance during the annual climate diplomacy weeks – in June and September 2018 – where EU delegations around the world reach out to communities and partner organisations.
European Parliament’s position
ASEM and ASEP
Since 2002, the EP has been represented through ad hoc delegations at ASEP meetings. In 2018, the Parliament’s delegation is composed of up to 11 MEPs, including the president, the vice-president in charge of relations with Asia and the chairs of the ASEP-related delegations. In a resolution of 15 January 2014 on the future of EU-ASEAN relations, the EP stressed that ‘the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) and the Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership (ASEP), as the existing channels for dialogue between the EU and ASEAN, should be upgraded at governmental and parliamentary level and further extended’. In a resolution of 15 February 2017, MEPs welcomed the proposal from Mongolia (host of ASEP9 in 2016) to set up an ASEM centre, including a virtual/online facility. The Parliament also urged the Commission and the Vice President/High Representative to use ASEM summits or meetings to raise issues such as the situation of the Rohingya people, the freedom of expression in Vietnam and the situation of human rights in Laos.
The EP advocates an ambitious EU climate policy with ambitious binding targets on climate and energy: a reduction by at least 40 % in domestic GHG emissions from 1990 levels; a 30 % share for renewable energy sources in energy consumption; and a 40 % increase in energy efficiency. Before the 23rd UNFCCC climate change conference (COP23), the Parliament voiced disappointment that, when introducing CORSIA, ICAO did not agree on emissions reductions in international aviation, but instead focused mainly on offsets. MEPs regretted that the quality of the offsets is not guaranteed, that the application of CORSIA is only legally binding from 2027 onward, and that there is a lack of commitment by major ICAO members. The EP voiced support for broad-based carbon pricing and the allocation of emissions-trading revenues to climate-related investments. It asked to phase out all fossil fuel subsidies by 2020. MEPs backed environmentally and socially sustainable biofuel production that does not lead to deforestation and rising food prices.
Read this ‘At a glance’ note on ‘ASEP10 gives priority to climate change‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.
Visit the European Parliament homepage on climate change.