The European Union as a global climate leader: confronting aspiration with evidence
- 958 Downloads
In rhetoric and action the European Union has attempted to be a global leader in forging solutions to confront the problem of climate change. Using unique survey data collected at five consecutive UN climate summits from 2008–2012, this article provides evidence on the extent to which the EU is actually recognized as a leader in the UNFCCC climate negotiations, investigates how perceptions of EU leadership have evolved overtime, and helps make sense of the role that the EU has played in recent negotiation outcomes. The survey’s findings show that recognition of the EU as a leader dropped sharply in 2009 at the COP 15 summit in Copenhagen, but has climbed again in subsequent years. The results reveal a fragmented leadership landscape in which the EU must share or compete for leadership with other actors, such as the USA and China, who hold drastically different institutional design preferences and leadership visions than those promoted by the EU. The article’s findings provide insight into the dynamics that both foster and frustrate the EU’s aspiration to lead the effort to reach a deal on a binding post-2020 climate change agreement in Paris at COP 21.
KeywordsClimate change Climate negotiations Copenhagen summit Durban summit Durban Platform for Enhanced Action European Union (EU) Leaders Leadership Leadership recognition Leadership modes United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
The authors would like to express their gratitude to the anonymous reviewers, the editors at International Environmental Agreements, and the participants of the ECPR and Nordic Political Science Association workshops on the EU for their constructive comments on earlier drafts of this article. We would like to thank Mattias Hjerpe and the members of the International Negotiations Survey team (www.internationalnegotiationssurvey.se) at the Centre for Climate Science and Policy Research (CSPR) for distributing surveys at the UN climate summits, COP 14–18, as well as to the COP delegates who participated in the survey. A special thank you is also extended to the UNFCCC secretariat for making this study possible. Charles F. Parker is grateful for the financial support provided by the Center for Natural Disaster Science (CNDS).
- Bretherton, C., & Vogler, J. (2006). The European Union as a global actor. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Council of the European Union. (2007). Presidency conclusions. Brussels, 9 March.Google Scholar
- Council of the European Union. (2008). Energy and climate change—Elements of the final compromise, 17215/08, Brussels, 12 December.Google Scholar
- Council of the European Union. (2009). Presidency conclusions, 29/30 October 2009. Brussels, 1 December 2009, 15265/1/09, REV 1.Google Scholar
- Council of the European Union. (2011). Conclusions on the preparations for the 17th session of COP 17 to the UNFCCC and the 7th session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. Luxembourg, 10 October 2011.Google Scholar
- Council of the European Union. (2012). Conclusions on the Preparations for the 18th session of COP 18 to the UNFCCC and the 8th session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. Luxembourg, 25 October 2012.Google Scholar
- Dimitrov, R. (2012). The politics of Persuasion: UN climate change negotiations. In P. Dauvergne (Ed.), Handbook of global environmental politics (pp. 72–86). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.Google Scholar
- European Commission. (2007). Limiting global climate change to 2 degrees Celsius—The way ahead for 2020 and beyond. Brussels: COM (2007)2 final.Google Scholar
- European Commission. (2008). Climate change: Commission welcomes final adoption of Europe’s climate and energy package. Press release, IP/08/1998, Brussels, 17 December.Google Scholar
- European Commission. (2009). Towards a comprehensive climate change agreement in Copenhagen. Brussels: COM (2009) 39 final.Google Scholar
- European Commission. (2011). A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050. Brussels: COM(2011) 112 final.Google Scholar
- European Commission. (2012). State of the Union 2012 Address. Brussels: SPEECH/12/596.Google Scholar
- Groen, L., Niemann, A., & Oberthür, S. (2012). The EU as a global leader? The Copenhagen and Cancun UN climate change negotiations. Journal of Contemporary European Research, 8(2), 173–191.Google Scholar
- Parker, C. F., & Karlsson, C. (2014). Leadership and International Cooperation. In P. T. Hart & R. Rhodes (Eds.), Oxford handbook of political leadership (pp. 580–594). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Rapp, T., Schwägerl, C., & Traufetter, G., (2010). How China and India Sabotaged the UN Climate Summit. Spiegel Online. http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,692861-3,00.html. Accessed 4 Sept 2015.
- Underdal, A. (1994). Leadership Theory: Rediscovering the Arts of Management. In W. I. Zartman (Ed.), International multilateral negotiation: Approaches to the management of complexity (pp. 178–197). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.Google Scholar
- UNFCCC. (2012). Report of the Conference of the Parties on its seventeenth session, held in Durban from 28 November to 11 December 2011, FCCC/CP/2011/9/Add.1.Google Scholar