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European Union Foreign Policy and the Global Climate Regime

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Simon Schunz

Ever since the first international negotiations on climate change in the early 1990s, the European Union has aspired to play a leading role in global climate politics.
This book engages in a longitudinal analysis of the EU’s participation in and impact on the United Nations climate regime.
It provides not only comprehensive insights into the evolution of EU foreign climate policy, but also a thought-provoking audit of the potential and limits of the EU’s influence in a major domain of global affairs.
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Introduction. Rationale of the Study

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← 16 | 17 →INTRODUCTION

This book combines the analysis of two topis that have immensely gained in political importance over the past two decades: the foreign and external policies of the European Union (EU) and global climate change. The EU is still a relatively recent player on the global scene, even when it comes to the environment, arguably the domain – beyond trade – in which it has made the first and most visible steps to become acknowledged as a foreign policy actor in its own right (Bruyninckx 2005: 213–214). Yet, especially since the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, the EU’s capacity and ambitions to shape global politics have grown considerably. This is especially true in an area that has equally obtained ever-increasing attention in the past twenty years: climate change – one, if not “the defining challenge of our generation” (United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Reuters 2007a). Following the first compelling natural scientific insights into the risks associated with anthropogenic interference with the global climate, this collective action challenge was for the first time politically tackled at a global level in the early 1990s. Initial negotiations under United Nations (UN) auspices led to the adoption of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, in force since 1994). Since then, attempts to complement the soft legal framework convention so as to foster durable global solutions to the climate problematique have been ongoing in the UN regime, with the intermediate results embodied in the Kyoto Protocol...

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