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POREEN Report Summary

Project ID: 318908
Funded under: FP7-PEOPLE
Country: Italy

Final Report Summary - POREEN (Partnering Opportunities between Europe and China in the Renewable Energies and Environmental industries.)

This research project aims at integrating and combining economic, legal and engineering competencies to analyse the level of economic cooperation reached so far, between China and Europe in the renewable energy and the environment industries. Three main research areas are involved in Poreen, with specific, but highly integrated and interconnected tasks: economic, law, engineering.

For many years EU and China have been developing a dialogue and effective cooperation initiatives on to address environmental issues together. They have found common ground on many key aspects and cooperation has been extensive in several fields. Diplomatic efforts have contributed to strengthen partnering opportunities between the two countries.
EU-China cooperation for environment protection has quite a long history. While the relation started as a mainly trade-oriented relationship, it has become a wider partnership, which has benefited from a sound institutional framework. The cooperation has embraced climate change issues, with strong linkages between energy security and environmental security.
Several aspects can be cited as drivers of the European interest in strengthening environment partnership with China. Europe has a comparative advantage in the field and has the opportunity to use this to gain bargaining power. China is a profitable market, both for the export of European environmental goods and for European firms seeking to invest locally. Moreover, helping China to diversify its energy mix and to improve its energy efficiency would have positive spillovers for the EU, in terms of reduced global demand.
From the Chinese perspective, China has several reasons to engage with the EU, which include the latter’s long experience in this sector and China’s need to implement “more sustainable growth strategies”. There are clear synergies between China’s search for a more sustainable growth path and EU capacities in environmental protection and renewable energy technologies.
In a four year time frame, researchers analysed the opportunities and potential to boost cooperation between China and Europe in this important area. They used a variety of research approaches and academic perspectives, combining economic, legal and engineering perspectives.
The economic dimensions of the project include the analysis of trade and foreign direct investments relations between Europe and China, in the renewable energies and/or environmental industries. Bilateral trade and FDI flows were analysed, also in the light of Chinese and European green policy and cooperation initiatives. Researchers identified obstacles, barriers and difficulties faced by European and Chinese firms in initiating, maintaining and consolidating both trade and investment initiatives in China and Europe, respectively. Key factors and issues to be addressed to further stimulate Europe-China trade and investment flows were also considered.
Legal research has a similar objective, but was focused on offshore oil and gas extraction, renewable energies, corporate responsibility and environmental legislation. Researchers analysed the legal framework of Europe-China cooperation, also in the light of global issues and a context where Europe and China are playing a key role for climate change and sustainable development. Legal analysis included some specific topics, such as (but not limited to) the Chinese environmental protection system, oil and gas offshore and renewable energy; anti-dumping; environmental and labour standards and corporate social responsibility.
The team's engineering research related to energy efficiency and carbon dioxide reduction, particularly concerning transportation and low-carbon buildings. Two main research areas were developed, both related to energy efficiency and carbon dioxide reduction: mobility and the transportation sector (including the use of methane and biomethane) and low carbon buildings, the use of heat pumps and district cooling/heating networks.

Through specific research outputs, the project aimed to:
• provide guidelines, i.e. policy proposals to support policy-makers at EU and local level, as well as operational suggestions for companies working in/with China, to enhance bilateral trade and investment flows;
• enhance scientific knowledge, through the theoretical and empirical findings of the different and joint research tasks.
Through international mobility scheme, the project has:
• supported the creation of knowledge networks. The mobility program and the joint research activities have allowed the identification of research and teaching cooperation opportunities. Project consortium members from European and Chinese institutions established and strengthened integrated and interdisciplinary research links;
• improved research skills of ESRs and ERs, thanks to research collaboration among EU and Chinese centre of excellences with a strong reputation and knowledge in their fields. Mobility researchers had the opportunity to both enhance their specific knowledge and improve their interdisciplinary and international research skills, working in an extensive and global network of partners.

Main results achieved in the 4 years of the project can be summarized as follows:
- effective knowledge transfer between different research teams belonging to different disciplines, through extensive secondment periods, several internal and open meetings, as well as joint participation at conferences, academic and professional events and trade exhibitions in Europe and China;
- enhancement of scientific knowledge and quality of research output. A large number research papers were written and accepted by high-level journals with high and wide impact. A book devoted to the project was written. Other papers are currently under review in prestigious academic journals and other outputs are in the process of being published as book chapters;
- impact. Extensive dissemination activities were organized to present the project and the results achieved so far, at international meetings, scientific conferences and events related to the topics of the project. We organized outreach initiatives and events to inform relevant stakeholders (belonging to several groups of interests) of the project results. The socio economic impact of the project was maximized through the involvement of key stakeholders, such as public institutions and bodies in China and in Europe, European and Chinese firms in the renewable energies and green industries, associations of firms in Europe and in China, professionals, as well as academic networks in the economic, legal and engineering fields.

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