The EU Locomotive of Climate Policy?
Published 02nd October 2009 - 10 comments - 2281 views -
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt met to discuss climate change negotiations prior to December talks in Copenhagen. Ban Ki-moon said:
“I hope that the EU continues to act as both locomotive and lobbyist and with its good examples and obligations encourage the rest of the world to contribute so that we can reach an agreement in December.”
This is not only diplomatic talk. The European Union can, and should, lead on climate change. But this leadership goes far and wide beyond Copenhagen.
1. A history of European leadership in protecting the environment
The European Union is the leader in environmental protection policy. We have continually set the standards and the trends. Somewhat grudgingly, our transatlantic partners have followed. We have implemented probably the most important concept of sustainable development in many of our common policies. That is not sufficient today.
2. The current negotiations impasse
We know that the prospects for a breakthrough in Copenhagen are bleak. The president of the European Commission, Mr. Barroso, has said that there will not be a comprehensive deal reached, and that negotiations can drag on “for years”.
3. How to lead?
I very much like this contribution by Professor Sebastian Oberthür that lists the most important directions for future EU leadership on climate change:
- Effective domestic climate polices – and leading by example;
- Coordination and unity among Member States in implementing and promoting climate policies;
- Strong diplomatic efforts on global climate policy;
- Reshaping the global institutional framework.
We obviously need to develop an inclusive leadership. This means engaging the business community, NGOs, regional authorities, various other stake holders. Geographically the EU leadership on climate change should aspire to include the whole European continent, the Mediterranean and Northern Africa as an area of immediate concern. We also need to work with practically all states and state formations under various regional and universal frameworks to define common interests, policies and actions.
4. Hoping for the best, preparing for the worst
Once again I would like to emphasize on the importance of climate change adaptation. We need more research, more new technologies and more policy options developed in order to face possible climate change challenges. Many if not all international players will turn to the EU for political and technological know-how transfers. Poor countries will require development aid and assistance.
5. Climate change is not an isolated phenomenon
There are many issues that are intimately intertwined with climate policy. To manage them properly, we need more efforts for climate policy integration. This approach will only further the value of the European leadership on climate change.
About the author
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