Global collaboration on action against climate change is at a “make or break” point and the EU and China must work together to advance the energy transition, a consultant to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change told a climate conference in London, UK, on Tuesday.

Without significantly improved collective action, “we won’t go anywhere”, Arvea Marieni warned at the London Climate Technology Show, noting in particular China’s dominance in the solar energy supply chain. An exchange of information between the EU and China would be mutually beneficial, paving the way for technological advancements in both economies, she added.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen condemned perceived foul play from China on climate action technologies in her EU State of the Union speech earlier this month.

“We have not forgotten how China’s unfair trade practices affected our solar industry,” von der Leyen said, adding that many businesses within the EU have been “pushed out by heavily subsidised Chinese competitors”, with some forced to declare bankruptcy.

In a panel discussion on Tuesday, Marieni suggested that the EU’s present solar problems are of its own making, citing poor policy decisions during the 2010s as a key reason for a lack of competitiveness in the domestic market. China, she said, took advantage of the solar boom in a way that Europe did not.

In her State of the Union speech, von der Leyen also touched on China’s control of global electric vehicle (EV) supply chains, stating that markets are now “flooded” with cheaper Chinese electric cars whose prices are kept “artificially low” by unmatchable state subsidies.

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To combat this threat, von der Leyen yielded to months of pressure from France and its proxies, announcing in her address the launch of an anti-subsidy investigation into EVs manufactured in China. However, the Commission president did concede that lines of communication with the Asian nation must be “kept open”, possibly in an attempt to maintain diplomatic relations ahead of an EU-China summit scheduled for later this year.