The European Union is a key actor in international efforts to build an effective response to the challenge of global climate change. After the US, it is the second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. In the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the EU committed itself to an 8% reduction of a basket of greenhouse gases. However, EU climate policy so far must be characterised as more of a failure than a success. Not least worrisome, EU officials have recently projected that EU greenhouse gas emissions will increase 6–8% by the end of this decade. In light of the Kyoto commitments and EU climate policy ambitions, what is most probable – comforting emission cuts or embarrassing increases? What are the main, determining factors? On the basis of a summary and review of important developments and achievements in EU climate policy, including the more recent, post-Kyoto developments, the central discussion of key future perspectives are carried out; distinguishing between national, EU–level and global “lenses”. Domestic progress so far makes it tempting to adopt a pessimistic position. But complexity is very high and simple and sweeping assessments and answers should be treated with every bit of caution and suspicion.
Energy & Environment – SAGE
Published: Mar 1, 2001