While the EU has sought to gain both profit and "soft power" from increased cooperation with China in the field of clean energy, not much of this expectation has materialised. China is unwilling to recognise the European Union as the world's clean energy champion, and is itself trying to secure a larger part of the international market through green power. In this highly competitive sector, Europe should give up its soft power aspiration and should resort to a realist but constructive policy. On the one hand, it should impose more ambitious curbs on its emissions and use this as an incentive to boost its own green technologies. On the other hand, it should develop a two-track approach for its international cooperation: limited aid-based synergies with the least developed countries alongside pragmatic economic bartering with all emerging countries, not just China.