European Political Science

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 31–40

The EU, the USA and the Climate Divide: Reappraising Strategic Choices

  • Joseph Szarka

DOI: 10.1057/eps.2011.9

Cite this article as:
Szarka, J. Eur Polit Sci (2012) 11: 31. doi:10.1057/eps.2011.9


Analysing transatlantic relations from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol (KP) to the 2009 Copenhagen accord, the article identifies underlying explanations for the divergences between the EU and US during international climate negotiations. It traces how a climate divide opened between the EU and the US in the early 2000s, involving confrontation over the implementation of the KP. However, a phase of EU–US rapprochement closed the climate gap in the late 2000s, leading to common positions during the 2009 COP-15 negotiations. Yet the Copenhagen Accord served to reinforce American influence, while undermining the coherence and credibility of the European stance. This led to multiple rifts in the post-Copenhagen landscape concerning climate treaty architecture, policy implementation and international relationships, jeopardising the success of future negotiations.


climate changeKyoto ProtocolCopenhagen Accordinternational relationsEuropean UnionUnited States of America

Copyright information

© European Consortium for Political Research 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph Szarka
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of European StudiesUniversity of BathBathUK