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European Union Foreign Policy and the Global Climate Regime


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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Chapter 4. From the Buenos Aires Action Plan to the Year 2007 (1998–2007): EU Influence on the Consolidation of the Global Climate Regime

← 112 | 113 →CHAPTER 4

From the Buenos Aires Action Plan to the Year 2007 (1998–2007)

EU influence on the Consolidation of the Global Climate Regime

Chapter 4 analyses the EU’s activities and impact in the context of the global climate negotiations during a time period that marked the transition between two phases of active regime reform attempts (1995–1997 and 2007–2009). Although talks during this period were not primarily concerned with the major topics studied in this work, i.e. a new interpretation of the core norm and principle of the regime, the ten-year span needs to be given consideration for two main reasons. first, the debates on the concrete modalities of the operationalization (1998–2001) and ratification (2002–2004) of the Kyoto Protocol were quite essential for the overall development of the climate regime. Their purpose lay in the transformation of the – only politically adopted – provisions of the Protocol, including its central norm (i.e. the legally binding target of 5.2% for Annex I parties), into international law. Second, in parallel to these ratification discussions and especially from 2005 until late 2007, debates on the future of the regime in the large sense of the term were gradually started (see also Annex II).

COP 4 to COP 7: From the Buenos Aires Action Plan to the Marrakech Accords (1998–2001)

In the final hours of COP 3, the negotiation skills of Chair Estrada had proven crucial for ensuring a deal all parties could undersign (see Chapter 3). Essential for his success in ensuring the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol had been the artful postponement of crucial decisions to a post-Kyoto follow-up process. As a result, the Protocol contained demands on the “Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to this Protocol” to determine “at its first session or as soon as practicable thereafter” inter alia the modalities of joint implementation (Art. 6 KP), the clean development mechanism (Art. 12 KP), emissions trading (Art. 18 KP) and compliance (Art. 18 KP), as well as the counting of sinks (i.e. processes or activities removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere ← 113 | 114 →such as forest or land management) (Art. 3.3 and 3.4 KP). The Protocol provisions themselves imposed thus, to a large extent, the agenda for the immediate post-Kyoto period: if the parties to the UNFCCC were truly determined to make the new treaty operational, they needed to take crucial decisions either directly at COP 4 or in the course of a longer process leading up to the first meeting of the parties to the Protocol. This section focuses on the negotiations between COP 4 and 7, which accomplished the operationalization of the Protocol.

The Context: Major Developments in Global Politics and Climate Science

Significant events outside the UN climate arena concerned above all the US during this period. In January 2001, George W. Bush became the 43rd President and his administration immediately began to alter the context for global politics through a decidedly hostile stance towards multilateralism. Later that year, the terrorist attacks of 11 September – striking the US, but inciting an almost global response – sparked speculations about a potential US re-engagement in multilateralism, but in fact led to further unilateral activity (Dessai et al. 2003: 192–193).

Major scientific advances were incorporated in the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report (TAR) published in 2001. Although it would not attain the same degree of importance in the regime negotiations as its predecessors, the TAR presented again increased evidence for global warming and highlighted the discernible human influence on climatic variations, bound to become more significant in the future (IPCC 2001a, b).

Key Actors in the Global Climate Regime and their Negotiation Positions

Many parties to the negotiations at COP 3 returned home with the perception of having made gains from the Kyoto Protocol (Flavin 1998). This was particularly true for several members of the JUSSCANNZ coalition, who realized that an extensive use of flexible mechanisms and GHG sinks would considerably facilitate the task of meeting their commitments. A shared interest in exploiting the Kyoto mechanisms also led to the emergence of a new coalition: the Umbrella Group, bringing together the members of JUSSCANNZ and major economies in transition (Japan, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Norway and Iceland) (Ott 2001a: 280).1 Common to all ← 114 | 115 →these countries was a preference for thoroughly operationalizing the new rules of the regime prior to ratifying the Protocol. Their central objective was to obtain maximum flexibility in the application of the mechanisms, the compliance system (with the US advocating a more rigid approach on this item) and the use of sinks (ENB 1998; Pallemaerts 2004: 38, 45). Further, several of the long-standing JUSSCANNZ members, especially the US and Australia, continued to display a special interest in genuine regime development by encouraging major developing countries to take on emissions reduction commitments. In the US, given the political constellation in the Senate (see Chapter 3), this had even become a condition sine qua non of the country’s ratification of the Kyoto Protocol (Tangen 1999). In the course of the talks, these positions would gradually harden (Grubb/Yamin 2001).

The majority of countries from the other big negotiating bloc, G-77/China, was equally in favour of an operationalization of the Protocol before its (swift) ratification, but refused to consider emissions reductions obligations of its own, arguing that the implementation of existing provisions, in line with the CBDR principle, had absolute priority (Tangen 1999). The G-77/China preferred less flexibility, a limited use of sinks, a strong compliance regime and the quick operationalization of the financial mechanisms (ENB 1998; Torvanger 2001: 2–4).

For the European Union, the immediate post-Kyoto phase produced a hang-over of sorts when it realized that the outcome of the regime reform process was not as favourable as it had initially sounded, and that much work still lay ahead before it would attain its primary aim, the entry into force of the Protocol (Interview EU representative 21). After a long period of concentration on the global negotiations, it also had to recognize that it had largely neglected its internal climate policies, complicated by diverging preferences among member states (Pallemaerts 2004: 44–45; Jordan/Rayner 2010: 65–66). The first important decision aimed at rectifying this was taken in June 1998 when the Council forged a political agreement on the sharing of the EU’s 8% reduction obligation imposed by the Kyoto Protocol, accompanied by a call to develop a range of climate policy measures within the EU (Pallemaerts 2004: 44–45).2 In the period that followed, the Union gradually developed a series of incentivizing and coordinating measures comprising inter alia a voluntary ← 115 | 116 →agreement with the European Association of Car-makers on CO2 emission standards (1998) and a directive aimed at promoting electricity from renewable energy sources (EP/Council 2001; Pallemaerts 2004: 46–48; Jordan/Rayner 2010: 64–68). Further, the Commission launched a European Climate Change Programme in 2000 in order to identify and elaborate policies necessary for a sound implementation of the Kyoto Protocol (European Commission 2008a). While growing clarity about its internal climate policies through secondary legal acts was bound to strengthen its actor capacity, the Union’s (primary) legal and institutional set-up remained, despite the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam in May 1999, largely unmodified. One significant exception has to be signalled, however: to guarantee greater continuity in the EU’s foreign policy approach, a specific “Climate Troika” was formed after COP 6 in The Hague, composed of the current Presidency of the Council, the future Presidency, and – as institutional memory of sorts – the Commission (Grubb 2001: 10).3 The Union’s negotiation position had, finally, not considerably evolved after the Kyoto COP. On the issue of responsibilities, the EU still wanted to loosely incite major developing countries to begin considering emissions reduction obligations in the medium term (Tangen 1999: 176). Regarding the issues that needed to be resolved before the Protocol could be ratified, the EU favoured a sound operationalization of the flexible mechanisms (including a demand for “supplementarity”, i.e. the definition of a cap on non-domestic measures counting towards the fulfilment of a party’s Kyoto target), a strong compliance system, and a limited use of sinks (Torvanger 2001: 2–3).

The Negotiation Process and the EU’s influence Attempts

Held between 2 and 13 November 1998 in Buenos Aires, COP 4 was to provide a first opportunity to prepare decisions that were needed to accelerate the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. Besides the aim of elaborating a work plan to that end, one other issue – directly related to a core pillar of the climate regime – was heavily debated during the first days of talks (EPL 1999: 3). During the opening plenary, the Argentinean hosts proposed to include voluntary commitments by developing countries as an additional item on the agenda,4 coupled with the promise by President Menem that Argentina would itself soon adopt a voluntary quantified ← 116 | 117 →emission reductions target (Ott 1998: 186; ENB 1998: 10). The suggestion was met with fierce resistance from the majority of the G-77/China bloc, notably India and China (ENB 1998: 3). For that reason, the issue did not formally make it on the agenda, but was nonetheless informally debated. A heated dispute developed between the US, whose Senate still regarded voluntary commitments of major developing countries as an essential precondition for its ratification of the Protocol, and China, the major emitter among the developing countries (Flavin 1998; Tangen 1999). In these debates, as in the COP on the whole and during previous negotiation sessions, the EU found itself somewhere in between the conflicting parties. It appeared to observers as impaired by internal problems and “rather passive”, despite taking the stance that “broadening commitments in the long term is necessary and unavoidable” (Tangen 1999: 176; ENB 1998: 3, 14). In spite of Argentina’s proposal, followed a day later by the – highly symbolic – signing of the Protocol by US President Clinton (ENB 1998: 13), the G-77/China managed to ultimately fight off any decisions on voluntary developing country actions. Slowed down by conflicts about this issue, the COP either did not engage in substantive discussions on agenda items directly concerned with the operationalization of Protocol rules or, if it did, was unable to reach decisions (ENB 1998: 14). During the final days, the main aim of the negotiators was thus to ensure at minimum a decision on the further proceedings of talks. The resultant Buenos Aires Plan of Action (BAPA) did not settle any pending issues, but rather set COP 6 in 2000 as a deadline to forge agreements on, above all, (i) financial mechanisms to assist developing countries in their efforts against climate change, (ii) development and transfer of technologies; (iii) rules governing the Kyoto mechanisms, including on the issue of supplementarity, with priority given to CDM; (iv) rules and procedures on compliance; and (v) preparations for MOP 1 (UNFCCC 1999a; Bollen/van Humbeeck 2002: 100; ENB 1998).

COP 5 (25 October–5 November 1999, Bonn) began with a high-level plenary meeting during which the host country’s Chancellor Schröder expressed his hope for celebrating the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol at the 10th anniversary of the Rio Earth Summit in Johannesburg in 2002 (ENB 1999: 2). This deadline was supported by the EU and numerous others, including Japan and AOSIS (ENB 1999: 12; von Seth 1999: 227). Central agenda items of the talks were the Kyoto mechanisms and the elaboration of a detailed work plan towards COP 6, even though other items stipulated in the BAPA were also taken up (compliance, technology transfer, sinks) (Bollen/van Humbeeck 2002: 100; von Seth 1999). Regarding mechanisms, debates concentrated on a synthesis of proposals by parties on principles, modalities, rules and guidelines (UNFCCC 1999b, c). During these deliberations, the EU emphasized the need to ← 117 | 118 →link the mechanisms to strong monitoring and reporting requirements, while other industrialized countries spoke in favour of maximum flexibility (ENB 1999: 8–9). Preliminary decisions on the mechanisms were taken and forwarded to preparatory meetings before COP 6 (ENB 1999: 9). A work plan foresaw several intersessional rounds of talks and an acceleration of their pace (von Seth 1999: 228; ENB 1999: 8; UNFCCC 1999d). All in all, the conference made thus modest advances on technical issues, keeping the negotiations on track towards the crucial sixth conference (ENB 1999; von Seth 1999: 231). Major events of relevance for the development of the regime were Argentina’s specification of its voluntary emission reductions pledges made at COP 4 (2–10% below business as usual during 2008–2012) as well as Kazakhstan’s demand to be included in Annex I (von Seth 1999: 228; ENB 1999: 13). This was welcomed by the US, Japan and Australia, while the EU stated its by then well-known position that a “possible way of making all countries limit their GHG emissions is to agree on increasing global participation after the first commitment period” (ENB 1999: 13, emphasis added). This was refuted by China and India, pointing to the “main responsibility” of developed countries (ENB 1999: 13). In the face of this opposition, the announcements by Argentina and Kazakhstan could not prevent the emergence of debates on the possibility of non-ratification of the Protocol by the US (von Seth 1999: 233).

COP 6 (13–25 November 2000, The Hague) was to bring the showdown in the two-year operationalization process of the Kyoto Protocol kicked off in Buenos Aires. It had been prepared in several meetings during the year 2000, of which observers remarked “the distinct lack of urgency, (…) not only in the conference halls (…), but also in the upper echelons of politics” (Ott 2001a: 280). Preparatory talks had covered all issues of the BAPA, but yielded little results. The COP split into several contact groups to consider the issues enumerated in the BAPA (ENB 2000). At the end of its first week, little had been achieved. In the face of the large number and complexity of undecided issues, parties seemed to wait for a compromise text from the Dutch President, Environment Minister Pronk (Ott 2001a: 281; Grubb/Yamin 2001: 268; Dessai 2001: 141). The finally introduced “Pronk paper” identified a total of 39 (!) “crunch issues” requiring decisions at the highest political level. The themes were regrouped into four boxes (Box A: developing country issues such as financing and technology transfer; Box B: Kyoto mechanisms; Box C: sinks – discussed under the term “land-use, land-use change and forestry” (LULUCF); Box D: policies and measures as well as compliance issues) (UNFCCC 2000: 2–14). In spite of all preparatory work, the paper had remained political rather than technical in nature, introducing new ideas and clearly attempting to accommodate the preferences of the Umbrella ← 118 | 119 →Group (Ott 2001a: 281; Dessai 2001: 142; Grubb/Yamin 2001: 268–270). This latter tendency was particularly noticeable with regard to the Kyoto mechanisms and the use of sinks, two central concerns on which the US-led coalition clashed with the EU’s preferences (UNFCCC 2000: 6–11; Ott 2001a: 281). Together with the COP President’s unusual approach for tackling the final talks with such a political (rather than a legally worded) text, it transformed the talks into an open conflict between the major industrialized coalitions, during which the G-77/China was effectively sidelined (ENB 2000: 18–19; Ott 2001a: 283; Grubb/Yamin 2001: 269; Dessai 2001: 142). In the US-EU exchanges that followed, the two most contentious issues were the supplementarity of the flexible mechanisms and the modalities of the use of sinks (Grubb/Yamin 2001: 271–272). On the first issue, which turned around the question to what extent activities to reduce emissions carried out through flexible mechanisms should be restricted, the Pronk paper suggested, rather vaguely: “Annex I Parties shall meet their emission commitments primarily through domestic action since 1990” (UNFCCC 2000: 7, emphasis added). This left much leeway to the Umbrella Group, seeking flexibility, to the detriment of the EU’s desire to set a clear quantitative ceiling on the use of the mechanisms (Ott 2001a: 283; Grubb/Yamin 2001: 272). The second issue would, however, reveal to be even more problematic: the US and other members of the Umbrella Group (Canada, Australia), had made it clear that they not only desired a maximum use of forest sinks, foreseen in Article 3.3 KP, but also sought to receive credits for carbon absorption through other managed lands under Art. 3.4 KP (Grubb/Yamin 2001: 271). This was heavily opposed by the EU, the developing countries and the environmental NGOs, who considered far-reaching use of existing management measures towards meeting emission reduction targets as unacceptable (Bollen/van Humbeeck 2002: 103). The Pronk paper did not, however, take the arguments of the opponents to the US approach into account when stating that “a Party may include the following activities: grazing land management, cropland management and forest management” (UNFCCC 2000: 10). While some members of the G-77/China were seemingly prepared to grant the US derogations on this point, the EU was more reluctant to compromise, fearing that “ordinary business-as-usual activities in the agricultural sector” would count as “climate protection measures” (Grubb/Yamin 2001: 271; Ott 2001a: 282). Bilateral talks during the very final hours of the COP, involving the UK’s Deputy Prime Minister Prescott5 and the US lead negotiator did, against all expectations, produce a compromise formula. As part of a broader package, it foresaw the opportunity ← 119 | 120 →for the US to claim but a limited amount of reductions from its own sinks (75 million tons of CO2); in return, the EU gave up on its insistence on a quantitative cap on mechanisms (Dessai 2001: 142). The Troika, led by France, brought this compromise to the EU-15 coordination meeting, where it encountered strong opposition by the Scandinavian countries as well as Germany, arguing that the UK never had a mandate to make such concessions (Jacoby/Reiner 2001: 302; Yamin/Grubb 2001: 263; ENB 2000: 18). This forceful opposition within the Union had repercussions for its overall position and effectively led to a breakdown of negotiations at COP 6 (Dessai 2001: 142). The conference ended therefore in a face-saving formula to suspend talks and reconvene later on the basis of what had been achieved so far (ENB 2000: 18–19; Jacoby/Reiner 2001: 302). All stories told about these negotiations emphasize, besides the unfortunate Pronk paper and the tough stance of the US, the less than optimal role of the EU (Ott 2001a; Grubb/Yamin 2001; Dessai 2001; Jacoby/Reiner 2001; Dessai et al. 2003; Vogler 2005). The Union’s performance will be subject to more detailed analysis, set into a broader context, when it comes to assessing its overall influence below.

The period after the failure of COP 6 saw several attempts by the Umbrella Group and the EU to prepare a deal on the basis of the partial agreements reached in The Hague. Following an initiative by US President Clinton, whose final term in office was drawing to a close, a meeting was convened in Ottawa in December 2000. Yet, negotiators could not reach common understandings on key issues, even re-opening some of the agreements of COP 6 (Bollen/van Humbeeck 2002: 104). The originally planned follow-up meeting at ministerial level was therefore cancelled (Ott 2001a: 284; Jacoby/Reiner 2001: 303). Cooperation was further complicated after George W. Bush had been sworn in as US President. In March 2001, he indicated in a letter to a group of Senators that his administration opposed the Kyoto Protocol because “it exempts 80% of the world, including major population centers such as China and India, from compliance” (White House 2001a). On the basis of this and related arguments, including concerns about competitiveness and loss of jobs, the US thus effectively withdrew from the Protocol ratification process (Bollen/van Humbeeck 2002: 104). The EU and other governmental actors (such as Japan and the G-77/China), but also a whole range of civil society organisations, attempted to influence the US administration to reconsider its stance through sending envoys and letters to Washington, organising protests and issuing open appeals – all in vain (Bollen/van Humbeeck 2002: 104; Dessai et al. 2003: 188).

When it became obvious that the US position would remain unchanged, the EU, led by the Swedish Council Presidency, made clear that Kyoto was “the only game in town” (ENB 2001a: 13) and engaged in a “diplomatic tour” to, inter alia, Iran (the G-77 Presidency at the time), Russia, Japan ← 120 | 121 →and China, in order to gather support from crucial parties for the further ratification process (Grubb 2001). This yielded positive effects: almost all parties assured their commitment to the Protocol (Dessai et al. 2003: 188; Gupta/Ringius 2001; ENB 2001a: 3). With the US appearing isolated in its opposition to “Kyoto”, President Bush announced on 11 June 2001 that his country would not obstruct the further negotiation and ratification process (White House 2001b; Bollen/van Humbeeck 2002: 105). At an EU-US summit on 14 June 2001 in Gothenburg, the two parties agreed to disagree on the further negotiation process and the Union cautioned its partners not to interfere with future UN climate talks (Dessai et al. 2003: 190).

COP 6bis, held in Bonn between 16 and 27 July 2001, broke with the logic of its predecessors: a high-level segment came together already during its first week. After three days of ministerial consultations, COP President Pronk introduced, on 21 July, a consolidated and unbracketed negotiating text he had prepared together with the UNFCCC secretariat (ENB 2001a). This document, product of the agreements reached at COP 6 and further informal talks, proved to be a sufficient basis for reaching a deal this time around. Parties could agree on all items except the sections on compliance, where previous agreements were re-discussed and the EU’s preferences for a strong mechanism clashed with the flexibility concerns of Japan, Russia and Canada (ENB 2001a: 4, 14; Dessai et al. 2003: 190–191; Ott 2001b: 470). After the decision on this issue had been effectively shifted to a later stage, the path was cleared for an adoption of the “Bonn Agreement” on 23 July (Ott 2001b: 469–470). The Agreement contained several key decisions on issues raised in the BAPA: regarding financial assistance and technology transfer to developing countries, three new funds were introduced (Special Climate Change Fund, Least Developed Countries Fund, Adaptation Fund), all of which were to be managed by the Global Environmental Facility (UNFCCC 2001a: 2–5). Concerning the Kyoto mechanisms and supplementarity, “the European Union and others lost their battle to have a quantitative cap” (Dessai et al. 2003: 191). On sinks, the EU and the G-77/China also made considerable concessions, as a longer list of activities, including those proposed by the US and in the Pronk paper at COP 6, were added to Article 3.4 KP. This augmented the range of possibilities for parties who wanted to reduce emissions by counting also various land management measures (UNFCCC 2001a: 10–13; ENB 2001a: 13). It was thus essentially through substantive EU concessions that the deal was ensured (ENB 2001a: 13; Jordan/Rayner 2010: 68).6 The remainder of the conference ← 121 | 122 →proved too short to translate these political agreements into (a) coherent legally worded document(s). Notable sticking points were the issues of mechanisms, sinks and compliance (Torvanger 2001: 14; Dessai et al. 2003: 192; Bollen/van Humbeeck 2002: 107). The finalisation of the BAPA thus had to await COP 7.

COP 7 in Marrakech (29 October–10 November 2001) had the delicate task of translating the Bonn Agreement, a package of draft decisions, into legal language. Despite existing political compromises on almost all issues, the conference turned out to be more politicized than expected: where the EU considered it as a final formal step towards concluding the BAPA and operationalizing the Kyoto Protocol, some Umbrella Group members, especially Japan, Russia and Australia, sought further gains for their positions, while the US took “little overt part” (Schneider/Wagner 2002: 3; ENB 2001b: 14–15). Talks focused on three outstanding issues from the BAPA (ENB 2001b; Dessai et al. 2003: 194–195; Bollen/van Humbeeck 2002: 109–113): compliance, the main left over from COP 6bis, and the two topics that had broken the deal at COP 6: sinks and flexible mechanisms. Regarding the issue of compliance, outstanding problems could be resolved at expert level in a package deal between the EU and the G-77/China on the one hand and the Umbrella Group on the other hand (ENB 2001b: 15, 6–8). The decision finally adopted foresaw a comparatively strong mechanism, which reflected EU preferences, notably with regard to its major institutional novelty, a two-branch compliance committee (ENB 2001b: 15; for an in-depth discussion: Schneider/Wagner 2002: 10; Dessai/Schipper 2003: 151–152). The other two issues were not resolved until the last two days of the COP when parties decided on very technical issues related to LULUCF reporting and the eligibility criteria for participation in the flexible mechanisms (ENB 2001b: 15; Dessai et al. 2003: 194). On these items, the EU gave in to various demands of the Umbrella Group (Dessai/Schipper 2003: 151; Schneider/Wagner 2002: 6–10). Ultimately, the COP reached its overarching aim: the Marrakech Accords, a package of 245 pages of decisions adopted on 10 November 2001, ended the BAPA process (UNFCCC 2001b).

The Outcome: the Marrakech Accords – Clearing the Way for Ratifying the Kyoto Protocol

Exactly three years of negotiations had been necessary to detail the rules of the reformed climate regime. Although this time period was not per se concerned with regime development regarding its core pillars,7 talks were essential for the continuity of the climate regime under the UN ← 122 | 123 →umbrella, and thus also for the EU’s objectives on the further evolution of the regime. In this regard, the Marrakech Accords proved crucial for clearing the path for ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. A critical reading could characterize these Accords as the “Marrakech dilution of the watered down Bonn agreement to the fatally flawed Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC” (Dessai et al. 2003: 194). More nuanced interpretations, by contrast, regarded the compromises on some of the crunch issues as necessary steps in the development of a regime that had to provide enough incentives for all actors to participate, even keeping the door open for the US to eventually re-join the club (ENB 2001b: 16). To enable such a catch-all agreement, the “EU and the G-77/China had been compelled to concede to many of the demands of key Umbrella Group countries” in the “Marrakech bazaar”, but also beforehand at COP 6bis (ENB 2001b: 15; Dessai et al. 2003: 193). With the exception of the compliance system, “unique in the world of environmental law” because of its level of detail with regard to both institutional set-up and penalties (Dessai/Schipper 2003: 151; UNFCCC 2001b: point L.), many key decisions in the Marrakech Accords reflected thus the preferences of the non-EU industrialized countries for greater cost-effectiveness – to the detriment of environmental integrity. This is particularly the case regarding the use of sinks, with the inclusion of all land management activities (Dessai/Schipper 2003: 151; UNFCCC 2001b: point K.), and the modalities of the flexible mechanisms. On this issue, supplementarity, so important to the EU, had become an “almost meaningless item within the Accords” (Schneider/Wagner 2002: 5–9; UNFCCC 2001b: point J.; Dessai et al. 2003: 195).

The EU’s influence on the Negotiations Leading to the Marrakech Accords

A brief assessment of the EU’s influence during the talks that led to the Marrakech Accords, based primarily on testimonies of observers, allows for maintaining the longitudinal perspective of the study. To that end, the Union’s main influence attempts and their effects at major turning points are assessed, before tentatively explaining its influence.

There is no evident coherent pattern of EU influence attempts that can be extracted from the discussion of this time period. The Union was active as a defender of the idea of prompt operationalization of the Kyoto Protocol, as part of its broader objectives related to regime development, but rather passive regarding the concrete substance of talks at COPs 4 and 5, balancing between the developing countries and the Umbrella Group (Tangen 1999; Ott 1998). Gradually, it would define, in a similar vein as during the Kyoto Protocol negotiations, a very detailed position and submit proposals on all key issues, with emphasis on ← 123 | 124 →sinks, compliance, and, importantly, the supplementarity of the flexible mechanisms (Torvanger 2001). This position tended, however, in another parallel to the period 1995–1997, to be quite inflexible: at COP 6, the EU was unprepared to make concessions to the US, thus contributing to the failure of the talks (Ott 2001a: 285; Grubb/Yamin 2001). It was only in the aftermath of the US withdrawal from the process, that it altered both its position and behaviour. Not only did the EU engage in more wide-reaching diplomatic activities, but it also displayed, under pressure, greater willingness to compromise with the Umbrella Group.8

Three relevant turning points can be identified during this period. The first one touched upon the maintenance of the norm, the other two on the modalities of its implementation.

Turning point 1, the US withdrawal from the process, came after a first major failure in the history of climate negotiations (COP 6). It led to a partial convergence of preferences among the remaining key actors, who agreed that the operationalization and ratification process of the Protocol should be pursued. The EU may claim credit for having actively – and ­successfully – led the way to forge this consensus on further regime development both rhetorically and by proactively searching the dialogue through sustained diplomatic efforts (and thus fulfilling four necessary conditions for influence: purposive behaviour, interaction, temporal sequence, goal attainment). It is however difficult to assess the degree of auto-causation of the other players. The remaining Umbrella Group members probably realized that the US withdrawal would enable them to impose the terms of the agreement. This made a participation in the regime even more appealing to them, as they could seek symbolic (gain international profile, e.g. Japan) and material benefits (via flexible mechanisms, e.g. Russia). Counterfactual reasoning may help to decide whether the condition “absence of auto-causation” was, at least partially, fulfilled: had the EU not “led the way”, would the other Umbrella Group members have behaved the way they did? Probably not, as they might have been too concerned about their relations with the US (e.g. for Japan, Grubb 2001). It did take the clear signals from the economic heavyweight EU to convince them to pursue with the negotiations at that stage. In the final analysis, it can therefore be plausibly argued that the Union did exert a – medium – degree ← 124 | 125 →of influence at this major turning point: without its commitment to the multilateral climate regime, the latter may have slipped into a longer crisis, and the commitments embodied in Article 3.1 and Annex B of the Kyoto Protocol might never have gained any significance whatsoever. EU impact thus ensured the maintenance of the norm.

The second and third turning points in Bonn (COP 6bis) and Marrakech (COP 7) concerned final decisions on various concrete technical issues regarding the modalities surrounding the issue of emissions reduction targets. Had these discussions failed completely, the norm on which the EU had been so influential in Kyoto would never have come into force. This was avoided, but the rules around the emission reduction targets were nevertheless severely watered down in a process in which the EU unsuccessfully tried to protect the environmental integrity of the Protocol (purposive behaviour, interaction). As the Umbrella Group exploited its bargaining power to the fullest to gain maximum flexibility regarding the use of sinks and mechanisms, the Union felt compelled to adapt its previously very rigid position and to give in to almost all demands, with the partial exception of compliance, in order to ensure regime development.9 In failing to reach its objectives, it thus clearly did not fulfil a crucial necessary condition for exerting influence (no goal attainment). No additional EU influence over the specific contours of the regime is thus discerned at these two turning points. All in all, the EU’s influence attempts were oriented towards the long term, and had enduring effects: the Union ensured that the decisions necessary for the Protocol to come into force – and the regime to further develop – were taken. It had, however, little influence on their substance.

To account for the EU’s influence during this period, endogenous/actor-related and exogenous variables must again be considered. In terms of actor-related variables, the EU’s actor capacity can be largely taken for granted, but its influence attempts and overall foreign policy implementation may partially explain why it did not fare well during most of this period. Observers of COP 6 in The Hague noted its “rather weak performance” as one of the reasons for the conference’s failure, attributing it to “the uncoordinated, reactive and fragmented style of European diplomacy” (Ott 2001a: 285; Grubb/Yamin 2001; Vogler 2005: 840). The key problem seemed to be a profound divergence of preferences regarding substantial and strategic policy choices among the member states.10 In ← 125 | 126 →an institutional context requiring unanimity, such differences resulted in slow and cumbersome processes of foreign policy decision-making and coordination as well as suboptimal outreach (Sprinz 2001: 7). As in previous rounds of talks, the EU spent “so much time negotiating with itself, and secondarily focusing on its position vis-à-vis the United States, that very little investment [wa]s made with respect to other countries” and “little or no account of the realities in the rest of the world” was taken (Grubb/Yamin 2001: 274). The resulting inflexibility was best exemplified in its stance on the issues of sinks and supplementarity at COP 6, of which – according to Grubb/Yamin (2001: 272) – “many EU members had known for a year” that they were “unacceptable and probably unworkable” for key third countries. These positions reflected a lack of strategic thinking on realistic fallback positions that would have enabled the EU to seal a deal as early as COP 6, avoiding the delay and painful experiences of the year that followed. Strikingly, the Union immediately adapted its position and behaviour after the failed COP 6 and the US withdrawal from the Protocol ratification process (Grubb 2001: 10), subscribing to compromises that would, arguably, “have satisfied the US in The Hague” (ENB 2001a: 13).11 This adaptation of its position may be regarded as the key positive explanatory factor for its influence on the overarching objective of ensuring regime continuity, but it came at high cost regarding its environmental integrity. Turning to the external determinants of EU influence, the US withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol ratification process constituted the most significant factor. It considerably impaired the Union’s chances of exerting influence on the regime. As the entry into force of the Protocol required the ratification of 55 parties to the UNFCCC, including Annex I parties representing 55% of the total emissions of all Annex I parties (Art. 25.1 KP), US disengagement meant that virtually all other industrialized actors needed to ratify if the EU was to reach its aim of getting the treaty into force. This provided the bigger members of the Umbrella Group (Japan, Russia, Canada, Australia) with de facto veto power (Dessai et al. 2003: 190, 197; Bollen/van Humbeeck 2002: 106). Since their diverging preferences were hard to accommodate, the Union had to bow to virtually all their wishes to attain its objectives. In a context of preference heterogeneity, the structural features of the negotiations thus did not play out to the advantage of the industrialized party who most wanted the due enactment of the Protocol (Yamin/Grubb 2001).

← 126 | 127 →After the Marrakech Accords: Ensuring ratification of the Kyoto Protocol (2002–2004)

With the technical hurdles for ratification of the Kyoto Protocol overcome, climate regime talks were to focus on the preparation of the first COP/MOP and the first review of the Protocol, scheduled for seven years before the end of its first commitment period (i.e. 2005, Art. 3.9 KP). It all came a bit differently, though: US disengagement from the climate regime made the ratification of the treaty essentially dependent on Russia, with its 17% share of Annex I country emissions (UNFCCC 1997e: 60), and Moscow sought to exploit this situation to its advantage by delaying ratification. In the struggle for Russian ratification, but also in the few discussions pertaining to regime development that emerged during this period, the EU became a key player.

The Context: Major Developments in Global Politics and Climate Science

During this period, no significant events outside the UN climate regime had an impact on the climate negotiations or the EU’s influence on these, although the effects of US unilateralism and the 2001 Third IPCC Assessment Report persisted.

Key Actors in the Global Climate Regime and their Positions

After their bargaining successes in Bonn and Marrakech, most remaining Umbrella Group members were above all concerned with the ratification and implementation of the Protocol. Japan, Canada and New Zealand actually ratified the Protocol before or shortly after COP 8 (Ott 2003: 2). In this process, Russia, although it had openly declared its commitment to ratification, counted on taking advantage of its special role as a veto power of sorts (European Parliament 2003; Douma 2006: 54). Last but not least, the US stuck with its disapproval of the ratification process. Its pledge not to obstruct the international negotiation process would also soon come under strain (White House 2001b).

The G-77/China considered the decisions on finance and technology transfer in the Marrakech Accords as only a partial success and urged not only the swift ratification of the Protocol, but also a further strengthening of Annex I party commitments to aiding developing countries in adaptation to climate change via a stronger focus on sustainable development (Najam et al. 2003; Ott 2003: 2). Linked to this shift from mitigation to adaptation, the majority of the group (except for AOSIS) was also hostile to starting talks on a reform process for the period after 2012, since it wanted to avoid being drawn into debates about own GHG reduction duties (Watanabe 2003: 19; ENB 2002: 11–12).

← 127 | 128 →After its efforts spent on ensuring that the formal prerequisites for ratification of the Kyoto Protocol would be fulfilled, the European Union was above all concerned with the prompt enactment of the treaty. The member states contributed their share to this by adopting, on 25 April 2002, a Council decision containing the 1998 political agreement on internal burden-sharing (Council 2002). Together with their own ratification documents, the EC ratification of the Protocol was deposited at the UN headquarters on 31 May 2002 (Pallemaerts 2004: 49). Internally, the EU’s joint ratification sparked the adoption of another series of measures to prepare its fulfilment of the target for the first commitment period. Directives were adopted, inter alia, on energy efficiency of buildings and the promotion of biofuels (Pallemaerts 2004: 49; Jordan/Rayner 2010: 68–69). The arguably most important measure introduced during this period was, however, the October 2003 directive on the creation of a European Emissions Trading System (ETS) (EP/Council 2003). Originally opposed to flexible mechanisms, the EU gradually, and for various reasons discussed elsewhere (Damro/Mendez 2003), warmed to the idea of applying such cost-effective tools for reducing emissions. In place since 2005, the ETS would soon become the cornerstone of the Union’s internal climate regime. While these measures were to strengthen the EU’s credibility, its actor capacity was bound to come under threat by enlargement, foreseen for January 2004. It was assumed that the input of ten new countries with diverse energy systems and environmental policy approaches would render the already problematic decision-making and coordination processes on external climate policy even more protracted. To cushion the impact of enlargement, but also to generally improve the performance of the EU in global climate negotiations, the Union engaged in a reform process of its institutional set-up under the Irish Council Presidency in the first half of 2004 (Interview EU representative 20; Lacasta 2008). In this process, the structures of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Climate Change that had been created in 1994 under the Environment Council – and had since 2000 been re-baptized as the Working Party on International Environmental Issues-Climate Change (WPIEI-CC) – were modified (Oberthür/Roche-Kelly 2008: 38; Costa 2007: 20; Lacasta 2008). Gradual reforms over the years had already led to the development of several expert groups under the WPIEI-CC. The novelties of the 2004 reform concerned then, primarily, the introduction of the position of “lead negotiators”, i.e. individuals from any member state or the Commission, who would be in charge of negotiating on behalf of the EU in particular groups in the international arena for long periods of time (Interviews EU representatives 20, 13; Oberthür/Roche-Kelly 2008: 38; van Schaik 2008). Further, “issue leaders” were designated, who together formed small groups that would join the lead negotiators in designing and promoting EU positions in cooperation with ← 128 | 129 →the expert groups (Interview EU representative 20; Oberthür/Roche-Kelly 2008: 38; Lacasta 2008). This system, it was believed, would not only enhance the continuity of EU external climate policy with regard to know-how, but also improve its outreach capacities by ensuring continuous contacts with third country negotiators. Regarding its negotiation position, the EU began turning to the period after 2012: it intended to initiate a thought process on the development of the climate regime beyond the first Kyoto Protocol commitment period by addressing the questions of how to fulfil the objective of Article 2 UNFCCC and broaden the scope of parties with binding commitments (Ott 2003: 2; ENB 2002: 11–12).

The Negotiation Process and the EU’s influence Attempts

COP 8 in New Delhi (23 October to 1 November 2002) was meant to be a “working conference”, focusing on technical issues related to, e.g., the CDM and the new funds created with the Marrakech Accords (Ott 2003: 2). During the opening plenary, observers noted that the grounds for a strong politicization of talks had already been laid out. The Indian hosts wanted to embed climate negotiations into broader sustainable development debates so as to underscore the development concerns of the G-77/China members by addressing, above all, issues related to adaptation (ENB 2002: 3). In the course of the talks, the EU made it very clear that this went against its own preferences, which were strongly concentrated on mitigation in a long-term perspective. Consequently, it invited parties to start a dialogue on the further commitments under the Kyoto Protocol (ENB 2002: 11–12; Ott 2003: 2–3; Watanabe 2003). This, in turn, was met with fierce resistance from the entire G-77/China bloc, arguing that the main focus of the COP should be the implementation, not the development of the Protocol (Ott 2003: 3). As the conference evolved, this conflict led to the emergence of an unusual coalition between the developing countries and the US: while the former, notably China and India, were fearful of having to take on GHG reduction obligations that would hamper their development, the US saw its support for those countries as an opportunity to control and slow down the regime development process by focusing talks on the UNFCCC rather than the Kyoto Protocol (Watanabe 2003: 19; Ott 2003: 3).12

After a first week of mostly technical discussions, the COP Presidency presented an informal draft for a final “Delhi Declaration”, which clearly reflected the hosts’ desire of more strongly linking climate change and ← 129 | 130 →sustainable development (UNFCCC 2002a). By contrast, the draft did not contain any reference to the Kyoto Protocol, the latest scientific findings summarized in the Third Assessment Report or the future development of the UN climate regime (UNFCCC 2002a; ENB 2002: 14; Ott 2003: 3–4). As this was not much to the liking of the EU and some Umbrella Group members (Japan, Canada) (ENB 2002: 14–15; Ott 2002: 3–4; Watanabe 2003), the final days of the COP were spent on intense talks over this text (ENB 2002: 14; Watanabe 2003). Backed by Japan and Canada, the EU vocally pursued its objective regarding the division of responsibilities within the regime, but “fought in vain for over 15 hours to secure a reference to ‘wider participation’ after 2012, which would have invited emerging countries to phase in commitments” (Watanabe 2003: 19). The ultimately adopted Delhi Declaration did not contain any mention of further development of the regime. It did however comprise references to the TAR as well as to the need for the swift ratification of the Protocol (UNFCCC 2002b).

COP 9 in Milan (1–12 December 2003) had originally been planned as the first conference after the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, to be held in parallel to MOP 1. Pending ratification by Russia transformed it into technical talks under a veil of uncertainty, which, according to observers, provoked a non-negligible lack of motivation (Fodella 2004: 24). The talks were concerned with further consideration of the CDM, modalities of sinks and the funding mechanisms (Dessai et al. 2005; Fodella 2004: 25). Showing signs of its oft-remarked “bunker mentality”, the EU’s tough stance on the latter issue hampered the search for compromises with the G-77/China bloc (Dessai et al. 2005: 111; Interview EU representative 20). Further regime development was clearly not among the key concerns, even though opportunities for debating long-term issues did open up, notably in the framework of discussions of the TAR. The EU’s attempts to raise this issue, presented less forcefully than in New Delhi, encountered “G-77/China’s strong resistance to adopting a COP decision on the TAR, and in fact to discussing anything beyond procedures for further consideration of this issue” (ENB 2003: 17). This was interpreted as a “clear reflection of the group’s determination not to allow negotiations to head anywhere close to the issue of developing countries’ future commitments” (ENB 2003: 17; Fodella 2004: 25). The decision on this issue prompted the elaboration of an uncontroversial – and equally vague – technical work programme (ENB 2003: 4). Other major decisions touched upon the guiding principles for the Special Climate Change Fund as well as the Least Developing Countries Fund and the modalities of LULUCF (UNFCCC 2003). Altogether, COP 9 thus confirmed the tendencies observed for its predecessor: technical progress, but paralysis regarding the further development of the ← 130 | 131 →regime – and a smouldering conflict around the latter between the EU, supported at times by some Umbrella Group members, and the G-77/China, sometimes in liaison with the US (Dessai et al. 2005: 119–121; Interview EU representative 20).

Between COP 9 and COP 10, reinforced diplomatic efforts were undertaken, notably by the EU, to ensure Russian ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. Without going into the details of the debate in Russia, the role of the EU in encouraging this ratification should be highlighted (for insightful discussions, see European Parliament 2003; Douma 2006). In the face of a range of Russian concerns about the Protocol, among them the fear of being alienated from the US,13 the EU repeatedly made moves to ensure the country’s support by strengthening bilateral ties. An extension of the 1997 Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) was to serve this purpose, but also to clear the path for a Russian membership bid to the World Trade Organization, which the EU promised to support (Douma 2006: 61; Buchner/Dall’Olio 2005). The final hurdles for the extension of the PCA were taken at the EU-Russia summit of May 2004, followed a few months later by the ratification of the Protocol in the Duma (Douma 2006: 61–62). Without giving in to all Russian demands (Douma 2006), the EU had thus, for the first time in a climate negotiation context, successfully employed economic tools, using the PCA reform and the promise of support for WTO membership as incentives for Russia to become a party to the Protocol.

Reportedly, the EU did not overtly celebrate this success at COP 10 (6–18 December 2004, Buenos Aires), but immediately turned its attention towards the future (Ott et al. 2005: 84). In terms of regime development, it would become a key player in an intriguing debate developed around an issue introduced by the Argentinean Presidency. At the beginning of the session, the latter had suggested holding two seminars in the course of 2005 to exchange views on negotiations about the post-2012 period (Ott et al. 2005: 85–86; ENB 2004b: 2). This proposal was opposed by the US and by the majority of the G-77/China, either fearful of debates about their own emission reduction targets (China, India) or concerned with slowing down regime development altogether (OPEC). The EU, supported by AOSIS, thus found itself in the role of the only major ← 131 | 132 →defender of Argentina’s proposal (Ott et al. 2005: 85). The compromise that was agreed during the final night of talks was to hold one seminar for the purpose of information exchange that would be “without prejudice to any future negotiations, commitments, processes and frameworks” (ENB 2004a: 1). Other decisions require no further discussion here, as they were mainly technical, relating, e.g., to adaptation, LULUCF and CDM (ENB 2004a). The fact that even a comparatively innocent issue like the organisation of a seminar would spark extensive debates set the tone for the talks that would follow at the first joint session of the COP and the MOP (ENB 2004a: 15).

The Outcome: the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol

The outcomes of these three years of further regime negotiations were rather meagre. Besides technical progress, mostly concerning the crunch issues of both the Kyoto Protocol and the Marrakech Accords (mechanisms, sinks, funding), the major advancement in terms of immediate regime development was the Russian ratification of the Protocol, which allowed for its entry into force on 16 February 2005. finally, COP 10 saw the timid beginnings of a post-2012 regime dialogue, a topic which would occupy negotiators in the period to come.

The EU’s influence on the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol

In search of EU influence attempts, the most striking feature of EU foreign policy activity within the climate regime throughout this period was its desire to quickly move ahead with regime development. In Delhi, it alienated many parties, notably the majority of developing countries, when it made proposals for considerations of wider post-2012 mitigation efforts at a time when the G-77/China was more interested in addressing development concerns. As a result of the EU’s impatience, a climate of mistrust formed between many G-77 countries and the Union (Ott 2003: 8). Rather than, at least strategically, responding to some of these countries’ concerns, the EU let its own agenda prevail, testifying once again to an often fairly self-centred approach and deficient outreach (Najam et al. 2003; Ott 2003: 8). This tendency continued into COP 9, although the EU did temper its impatience somewhat, realizing that the many technical issues related to the operationalization of the funding mechanisms were of crucial importance to the G-77/China (Dessai et al. 2005: 111, 119–121). In the period that followed the Milan conference, its main influence attempts lay outside the direct regime context. In an unprecedented move, the Union managed to use economic tools, linking climate change to issues originally unrelated to environmental politics in order to influence Russia. finally, back in the UN arena, the EU turned again towards the future of the regime at COP 10, pursuing its own agenda in spite of a ← 132 | 133 →lacking international mandate to start post-2012 talks (Ott et al. 2005: 90). Continuing patterns from the two previous COPs,14 it alienated both the G-77/China and the US with this approach, creating a particular challenge for the period that followed: if it wanted to advance the regime talks, the Union would need to convince the major developing countries, whose emissions were rising steeply, just as much as the major industrialized emitter (Dessai et al. 2003: 201; Ott et al. 2005: 90–91). Balancing between these two players would therefore represent the major task for the future (Biermann 2005).

The only key event and a turning point of sorts with regard to the development of the climate regime during the analysed period was the Russian Kyoto Protocol ratification, crucial to the successful completion of a reform process begun ten years earlier at COP 1 in Berlin. Although it was ultimately the decision of a sovereign country, the EU did exert medium influence over Russia’s choice: it approached the Russians with concrete proposals that were openly linked to the Kyoto Protocol ratification process (purposive behaviour, interaction, temporal sequence). These proposals and subsequent agreements allowed the Union to attain its aim (ratification of the Protocol). finally, even though the Russians may have decided to ratify the Protocol without the Union’s interference, the likelihood that the incentives provided by the EU were essential for it to decide the way it did is high (partial absence of auto-causation) (Douma 2006, who cites observations by Russian politicians supporting this interpretation). The EU was thus able to set forth its role as a decisive player when it came to ensuring the continuity of the multilateral regime. Concerning the attempts to initiate post-2012 talks, it booked, however, together with AOSIS, only a very limited success against an opposition of developing countries and non-Kyoto ratifiers (US, Australia) at COP 10.

Without engaging in wide-reaching explanatory efforts of its influence, the case of Russian ratification demonstrated that (i) the EU generally has more foreign policy instruments at its disposal in a climate policy context than it had been willing to employ before that, and that (ii) these tools, used for bargaining, hold the capacity to enhance the Union’s chances for exerting influence. By contrast, its impatience and insensitivity towards other partners’ interests, a recurring pattern, at times strongly alienated third parties. What may appear as an attempt at leading carries thus, in fact, the risk of isolating the EU in the climate arena, limiting its prospects for exercising influence.

← 133 | 134 →Towards a Post-2012 Regime: Loose Talks on the Way to Bali (2005–2007)

With the Protocol finally ratified and first steps undertaken towards a post-2012 dialogue, the beginning of a new era of climate regime development seemed around the corner.

The Context: Major Developments in Global Politics and Climate Science

Important changes to the broader context into which the regime discussions were embedded occurred towards the end of the time period analysed in this section. Considering the broader global politics of climate change, while the focus had clearly been on the UN regime as long as the Kyoto Protocol was not yet ratified, numerous processes were initiated outside the UN framework in 2005. This was primarily the result of activities by the United Kingdom, which held both the EU and the G-8 Presidency in the second half of that year (Vogler 2008: 21). Part of the reason for promoting the use of fora outside the UN context was the desire to re-engage the US, which was considered as indispensable for ensuring the environmental effectiveness of the climate regime, but remained sceptical of both the multilateral process and the science of climate change (Afionis 2008). At the G-8 summit in Gleneagles in July 2005, a communiqué was nonetheless adopted in which all leaders, including the US President, underscored that “climate change is a serious and long-term challenge” and that it was “in our global interests to work together, and in partnership with major emerging economies” to reduce GHG emissions (G-8 2005: points 1 and 3). Further, the G-8 reaffirmed that “the UNFCCC is the appropriate forum for negotiating future action on climate change”, but still agreed to begin an extra-UN, G-8 “Dialogue on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development” (G-8 2005: points 14, 9). The Dialogue’s aim was to share best practices and promote the transformation of energy systems; it was open to “other interested countries with significant energy needs”, notably the five major emerging countries (China, India, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa) already present in Gleneagles (G-8 2005: point 9; Afionis 2008: 3–5). The G-8 issued a work plan to that end, creating several working groups (Afionis 2008: 4). The EU, represented by its big member states and Commission President Barroso at the summit, endorsed this plan (Afionis 2008: 4). Only months later, before a first Gleneagles dialogue meeting, the US itself co-initiated another small multilateral forum, the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate Change (APP, US, China, India, Australia, Japan, South Korea). The aim of this partnership was equally to advance cooperation on clean energy technologies outside the ← 134 | 135 →UN process (APP 2009). Both the G-8+5 and the US-led initiative would diversify the landscape of global arenas in which climate change would be discussed from the mid-2000s on. These trends would increase a feeling of uncertainty about where and how best to pursue global debates.

Regarding the issue itself, 2006 has been referred to as the “year of climate change”, as it saw a rise in public and political interest in the topic, with the effect that important findings by climate scientists slowly began to transfer into “popular knowledge” (Sterk et al. 2007: 139; Davies 2006). The attention of the public was drawn to the issue, for instance, by a documentary film written by and starring former US Vice-President Gore. “An Inconvenient Truth” became a public success in many parts of the world. Further, a study on the economics of climate change, commissioned by the UK government and conducted by a team led by Nicholas Stern, appeared in late October 2006 and became a key reference for politicians and the interested public. The central message of the Stern report (2007) was that early action to mitigate climate change would come at lower cost than late adaptation and mitigation measures. finally, the year 2007 would see the gradual release of the Fourth IPCC Assessment Report, discussed in detail in the Introduction to this work.15 All in all, the degree of attention climate change attracted from 2006/2007 on was bound to have an impact on the emerging discussions about the further reform of the climate regime.

Key Actors in the Global Climate Regime and their Positions

Prior to the first COP/MOP, the Umbrella Group was split on how to proceed with regime development. While the US and Australia were not particularly inclined towards discussing further reductions at all, the other members of the group made it clear that they considered it necessary that major developing economies engage in GHG reduction measures, but divergences existed regarding the modalities of such efforts (ENB 2005b: 13–14; Germanwatch 2006: 5). By contrast, the G-77/China camped on its old position: it wanted by all means to prevent debates about own targets, preferring to focus discussions about regime development on the review of the commitments for Annex I countries stipulated in Article 3.9 KP (ENB 2005b: 13; Kasa et al. 2008: 116).

Since 2004, the European Union was operating with the described new internal division of labour in the climate change domain. The lead negotiator and issue leaders arrangement was bound to show its real impact on the Union’s actor capacity during the more complex, two-track ← 135 | 136 →talks that were to come with the COP/MOPs. One sign of a greater interest for strategic thinking in the Union’s foreign climate policy approach was a major transformation of its outreach activities. In reaction to the proliferation of fora addressing climate change and the increased importance of mini- and bilateral partnerships (ENB 2006: 19), but also to generally boost its foreign policy strategy, the EU sought to improve its bilateral relations with individual countries or groups of countries during the years 2005 and 2006 (European Commission 2005: 10). Further, the Union stepped up its diplomatic efforts for generalized outreach by exploiting the Green Diplomacy Network (GDN) to promote its positions on climate change. In terms of bilateral relations, the EU institutionalized talks with both Annex I and non-Annex I countries. Older relations with industrialized countries were reinvigorated. On top of long-standing relations with Canada, the Union had created, as early as 2002, a US-EU High Level Representatives Dialogue on Climate Change to keep the channels of transatlantic communication open despite substantive disagreement on how to deal with climate change (European Commission 2009b, 2009c). Moreover, EU-Japan relations were further strengthened: since 2001, they were based on a rolling work plan in the environmental domain, foreseeing regular high-level exchanges between the Troika and interlocutors from the Japanese ministries of environment, economy (MITI) and foreign affairs (Interview EU representative 24, European Commission 2009d). New and more wide-reaching efforts to strengthen cooperation were undertaken vis-à-vis the two major emerging countries, China and India. In 2005, the EU-China Summit adopted a Joint Declaration on Climate Change, establishing a partnership covering concrete cooperation in the fields of carbon capture and storage and clean energy technology, but also ensuring regular political dialogues (Interviews EU representatives 1, 31; European Commission 2009e; Joint Declaration 2005). In the Indian case, a joint action plan and a 2005 EU-India Initiative on Clean Development and Climate Change were to ensure a collaborative promotion of public-private partnerships for research and development of clean technologies as well as continuous dialogue on climate change (Interview EU representative 31; European Commission 2009f). Furthermore, the EU also attempted to forge stronger relations with least developing countries. In 2004, the Council adopted an “Action Plan on Climate Change in the Context of Development Cooperation” (European Commission 2007a: 10). It intended to help developing countries in building capacities to cope with mitigation and adaptation, and was meant as a basis for more concrete partnerships with LDCs. finally, the Union also started to integrate debates about climate change into existing bilateral dialogues, e.g. the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) (European Commission 2009g). In terms of wider diplomatic efforts, the EU began to undertake attempts ← 136 | 137 →to further coordinate its outreach via the Green Diplomacy Network, an informal network of environment experts within the foreign ministries and embassies of the 27, supported by the Commission (Interviews EU representatives 12, 1, 26, 24, 30). This network had carried out a first series of démarches in key countries before COP 10 in Buenos Aires and would repeat this activity before each of the subsequent COPs (European Commission 2009a: 2). The démarches, conducted about three weeks before the conferences in countries considered central for the outcome of the UN climate negotiations, consisted in an exercise of informing negotiation partners of the EU’s position and an exchange of views (Interviews EU representatives 12, 1, 26). Based on instructions agreed in the WPIEI-CC, the local GDN would normally target the message to the specificities of its host country (Interviews EU representatives 12, 1, 26). This permitted the EU to explain its position more thoroughly than ever and, at least in theory, to gain an understanding of the concerns in partner countries so as to strive for an adaptation of its position and behaviour. Regarding the Union’s internal climate regime, a policy decided earlier would come to full bloom in 2005: the ETS began its first trial period. In the same year, the Commission equally launched its second European Climate Change Programme, focusing on topics like emissions from aviation, cars and carbon capture and storage (European Commission 2008c). Concrete new legislation was added to the EU’s acquis in 2006, notably a directive on energy efficiency and energy services (EP/Council 2006) (see Jordan/Rayner 2010: 68–71). finally, the Union’s negotiation position on issues related to regime development had become more concrete: in early 2005, the Commission communication “Winning the battle against climate change” (2005: 10) had demanded

to establish a multilateral climate change regime post-2012 with meaningful participation of all developed countries and the participation of developing countries which will limit the global temperature increase to 2°C (…). The reduction commitments that the EU would (…) take (…) should depend on the level and type of participation of other major emitters.

The March 2005 European Council endorsed this EU “blueprint for a post-2012 world” (Jordan/Rayner 2010: 69), reiterating its “determination to reinvigorate the international negotiations” (European Council 2005: 15). Without specifying a target, the heads of state and government stated that they aimed at “reduction pathways for the group of developed countries in the order of 15–30% by 2020” compared to 1990 levels (European Council 2005: 16). The Union was thus determined to start talks on the future of the climate regime as soon as possible, and sought ways to promote broader participation in emissions reductions efforts by engaging major emerging economies and the US.

← 137 | 138 →The Negotiation Process and the EU’s influence Attempts

The seminar on the future of the UN climate regime that had been the subject of much controversy at COP 10 was organised in Bonn in May 2005 and proved to be an “open, frank and broad-ranging” dialogue (ENB 2005a: 7). It had, however, not succeeded in overcoming key conflicts, as the general impression was that persisting differences “could soon translate once more into heated discussions and intransigence once formal negotiations resumed” (ENB 2005a: 7). Proceedings at COP 11/MOP 1 (28 November to 10 December 2005, Montreal) would therefore become crucial with regard to further regime development. Against the will of the US and Australia, the majority of countries had been in favour of holding the two meetings in parallel. While all parties to the UNFCCC, including the US, were gathering as COP, parties who had not ratified the Kyoto Protocol were granted observer status under the MOP. This entailed limited speaking and no voting rights. To structure talks, the Canadian COP Presidency had identified three broad agenda items: implementation, improvement and innovation (known as “the three I’s”) (Bausch/Mehling 2006: 195).

Regarding implementation, the first meeting of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol proved to be productive: without much conflict, parties formally adopted the Marrakech Accords. Concerning the agenda item improvement, several decisions were taken on the modalities of the CDM and joint implementation as well as on the compliance committee (Wittneben et al. 2006; Depledge 2006; Bausch/Mehling 2006; ENB 2005b). Main agenda items of the COP concerned ongoing issues (deforestation, adaptation), but discussions did not result in major advances (ENB 2005b). As far as the last, and for this analysis most crucial agenda item was concerned, innovation through a further development of the regime, problems emerged.

The MOP had to deal with two related issues in this regard. The Protocol itself foresaw a review of the adequacy of Annex I parties’ commitments seven years prior to the end of the first commitment period, i.e. in 2005 (Art. 3.9 KP). At the same time, it also called for a general review in light of the “best available” science, and “at regular intervals and in a timely manner” (Art. 9 KP) (Bausch/Mehling 2006: 196–197). In a contact group on “future action”, the usual cleavages quickly resurfaced: while the EU and Japan jointly introduced the idea of linking these two reviews to start discussing broader commitments beyond a mere review of Annex I targets, the G-77/China submitted a proposal that did not mention Article 9 and refused categorically any debates about non-Annex I reduction obligations (Depledge 2006: 18; ENB 2005b: 13–14). An informal group was nonetheless formed to discuss the review process under Article 9.

← 138 | 139 →In parallel, discussions were conducted in yet another group on a proposal by the Canadian Presidency foreseeing the initiation of a dialogue on long-term cooperative action under the Convention, introduced to provide a forum in which the US could be a full member (ENB 2005b: 14; Depledge 2006: 18). Reunited in a high-level informal meeting, members of the three groups deliberated during the last two days of the conference on the design of future regime reform talks (ENB 2005b: 14). In a reportedly dramatic move, the US walked out of this group when the discussions came – in their view – too close to considering new commitments for Annex I parties (Müller 2006: 12; Depledge 2006: 18; Germanwatch 2006: 5). The other parties, led by the EU, Japan, and major developing countries (China, India), pursued their debate and decided to draft a plan for a dialogue on long-term action under the UNFCCC (Germanwatch 2006: 5; ENB 2005b: 14). After the UK had used its special relationship to bring the US back to the table the next (and last) day (Müller 2006: 12), US negotiators had only minor changes to make to this plan (Germanwatch 2006: 5). 16

The resultant structure for further regime development discussions was three-fold (Bausch/Mehling 2006; Depledge 2006; Germanwatch 2006: 4–6; ENB 2005b: 14): the COP decided to begin a “Dialogue” under the Convention, which would serve the purpose of exchanging views about an enhanced implementation of the UNFCCC in a “non-binding” manner “not open[ing] any negotiations” (UNFCCC 2005a: 2–3; Wittneben et al. 2006: 17–18; ENB 2005b: 14). Up to four workshops were scheduled until COP 13. Under Article 3.9 KP, the MOP decided to initiate talks on commitments for Annex I parties and created an open-ended Ad Hoc Working Group (AWG-KP) (UNFCCC 2005b: 1; Wittneben et al. 2006: 16–17; ENB 2005b: 14). The group was to complete its work in time to avoid a gap between the first and a second commitment period of the Protocol. finally, to the disappointment of the EU and Japan, a decision on the Article 9 review was postponed: parties were invited to submit views on this item (Depledge 2006: 18).

Against the background of the increased attention given to the topic of climate change in 2006, COP 12/MOP 2 in Nairobi (6–17 November 2006) apparently had a sobering effect. Observers remarked a lacking sense of urgency – with talks proceeding at “an almost surrealistic slow pace” – and the usual tendency to backload, resulting in little progress (Sterk et al. 2007: 139–140; Okereke et al. 2007: 32–33, 40–41). Apart from adaptation, which occupied a central place on the agenda, with the adoption of an ambitious “Nairobi Work Programme” (Okereke et al. ← 139 | 140 →2007: 3–10; UNFCCC 2006a; ENB 2006: 19), talks on regime development received the most attention. They were held under the two tracks created to that end at COP 11/MOP 1, with some parties, notably the EU, trying to extend them to a third forum.

Under the AWG-KP of Article 3.9 KP, which had met once before – in May 2006 – to elaborate a future plan of work (ENB 2006: 2), the EU and several other parties (Switzerland, Canada) again tried to construct a link with the discussions on Article 9 KP (ENB 2006: 11). Further, the Union and Australia declared that action only by Annex I countries would not suffice to mitigate climate change in a future regime arrangement (ENB 2006: 11). The EU in particular also attempted to insert its own temperature guideline, a reference to keeping global temperature increase below 2°C, into the negotiation texts, while arguing for a debate on a long-term vision of halving emissions by 2050 (Sterk et al. 2007: 141). In the face of G-77/China opposition, the AWG-KP did not reach agreement on these issues, nor on a specific timeline for its proceedings. Only very general conclusions were adopted, emphasizing the need for industrialised countries to lead and the future targets to be based on scientific analyses (ENB 2006: 11; Okereke et al. 2007: 14–15). An extended work programme was also endorsed: in 2007, parties were to proceed with analyses of mitigation potentials, followed by discussions on issues of means and actual reduction objectives for Annex I parties (UNFCCC 2006b; Sterk et al. 2007: 141). The second forum for regime development, the Convention Dialogue, was arranged as a series of workshops, focusing on broader topics. Workshop number two was conducted at COP 12, but did not yield any substantial advances beyond the exchange of views (ENB 2006: 4; Okereke et al. 2007: 15). Observers remarked a certain loss of momentum of the talks under this track (ENB 2006; Sterk et al. 2007: 142). A third opportunity to discuss the future of the climate regime was still available under Article 9 KP, which stipulated a periodic review of the Protocol: the EU tried, once again, to gain a profile as the champion of a thorough and comprehensive review, while the G-77/China attempted to limit the assessment of advances to this MOP, arguing that Article 9 KP foresaw a “review”, not a “revision” of the Protocol (ENB 2006: 11; Okereke et al. 2007: 16; Sterk et al. 2007: 142). The debates did not end with any substantial reconsideration of the Protocol, but rather a compromise agreement on procedure: a new, comprehensive review process was scheduled for MOP 4 in 2008 (Sterk et al. 2007: 142). The G-77/China obtained an assurance that this review would not lead to new commitments for any party (UNFCCC 2006c). In sum, while “the focus of COP 12 and COP/MOP 2 was undoubtedly on the future – of the Protocol, the Convention, and longer-term action to combat climate change” – (ENB 2006: 19), not much was actually achieved in terms of regime development.

← 140 | 141 →After the sobering effect of the Nairobi COP/MOP, the year 2007 would witness a remarkable build-up of political momentum towards COP 13/MOP 3 in Bali, Indonesia, within and beyond the UN arena. To illustrate both the extension of the negotiations into non-UN bodies and the EU’s expanding foreign climate policy activities, a comprehensive story of this transition year toward a period of intense post-2012 talks, discussed in the next chapter, is presented here.

In January 2007, the EU was the first major actor in the global climate arena to advance its conception of a post-2012 agreement when the Commission proposed the start of a negotiation process toward a comprehensive regime reform in its communication “Limiting Global Climate Change to 2° Celsius: The way ahead for 2020 and beyond” (European Commission 2007b). In March, the European Council conclusions endorsed the Commission communication, linked to the proposal that the EU would commit itself to 20% unilateral emissions reductions and 30% emissions reductions by 2020 if other industrialized countries were to adopt reductions in that same range (European Council 2007). Gradually completed, this proposal would form the core of the Union’s position – constituting its major influence attempt – in the post-2012 talks.

After a spring during which debates on climate change were held for the first time in the UN Security Council (UNSC 2007), negotiations within the UN climate regime were set forth under both tracks in May 2007 in Bonn. Focusing on technology and adaptation, the Dialogue Workshop (16–17 May) did not produce any concrete advances in terms of regime development (ENB 2007a: 15). The summary of the meeting did, however, identify a number of elements that had emerged as the parties’ favoured building blocks of a future climate regime, including a long-term goal “consistent with science”, “national climate change strategies” on mitigation and adaptation, the continued use of market mechanisms and the possible introduction of sectoral mechanisms as well as enhanced consideration for adaptation and technology transfer (UNFCCC 2007c: 2). The AWG-KP meeting went into quite some detail to discuss mitigation potentials and emission reduction objectives for Annex I parties as well as the review of its work programme (ENB 2007a: 14). In the closing plenary, the EU, while acknowledging the importance of the group, highlighted the significance of linking its discussions to debates under the Convention. The conclusions of the session stated that work was to continue at and beyond Bali and that it should focus on further Annex I emissions reductions, while taking into account the “shared vision” of how to reach the objective of Article 2 UNFCCC (ENB 2007a: 14–15).

During the early summer of 2007, the EU became increasingly active in bilateral relations with key parties outside the UN framework. The ← 141 | 142 →EU-China dialogue of 29 May provided an opportunity for an exchange of positions, but did not deliver any common vision of the future shape of global climate policies, with China refusing to discuss any binding emission reductions/actions for itself (Agence Europe 2007a). By contrast, the Union’s meeting with Japan on 5 June delivered a “broad consensus” about the urgency of tackling climate change and the necessity to kick off a new negotiation round in Bali (Agence Europe 2007b). Further impetus to the UN process came from the G-8 in June: under the impulsion of Germany, holding both the EU and the G-8 Presidency in the first half of 2007, leaders concluded in Heiligendamm: “we will consider seriously the decisions made by the European Union, Canada and Japan which include at least a halving of global emissions by 2050” and “have agreed that the UN climate process is the appropriate forum for negotiating future global action on climate change. We are committed (…) to actively and constructively participate in [COP 13] with a view to achieving a comprehensive post 2012-agreement (post Kyoto-agreement) that should include all major emitters” (G-8 2007: point I; Agence Europe 2007c). For the first time, the Bush administration would thus loosely acknowledge in an international forum that substantial emission reductions (in the long term) were necessary. The declaration also sent a clear signal to the major emerging countries that all key industrialized countries, unlike during the Kyoto Protocol negotiations, were committed to demanding actions from them.

Back in the UN arena, further support for the EU’s vision of a comprehensive post-2012 agreement came from a three-day UN General Assembly debate dedicated to climate change (31 July–1 August 2007), in which numerous countries expressed their growing concern about the problem and called for a new negotiation process to be initiated in Bali (UNGA 2007). In the UN climate regime, the final Convention Dialogue and the first part of AWG-KP 4 were held between 27 and 31 August 2007 in Vienna. The Dialogue dealt essentially with two topics: financial issues and the question of how to proceed with discussions beyond 2007, with the scenario note by the co-facilitators stating the hope that the abovementioned “building blocks” could be “welded together into an effective and appropriate international response to climate change” and that talks would prepare for the decision on a “road map” in Bali, an explicit request voiced, inter alia, by the EU (UNFCCC 2007c: 2; ENB 2007c: 6–9, 9). In its submission informed by the European Council conclusions of March 2007, the EU had suggested that “COP 13 and COP/MOP 3 in Bali need to lead to the engagement of all Parties in a comprehensive negotiation process including both the Convention and Kyoto Protocol tracks agreed at COP 11 and COP/MOP 1, with a view to reach a global and comprehensive post-2012 agreement by 2009 at COP 15 and ← 142 | 143 →COP/MOP 5” (UNFCCC 2007d: point 3). The paper further identified one key objective and eight building blocks that the EU wanted to feature in the future negotiation process after Bali: “the need to limit the global average temperature increase to not more than 2ºC above pre-industrial levels and a 2050 goal/yardstick of low carbon development to reduce global emissions to at least 50% below 1990 levels” necessitated discussions on (i) a shared vision, (ii) deeper absolute emission reductions by industrialized countries, (iii) “further fair and effective contributions by other countries”, (iv) an extension of the carbon market, (v) increased attention to technology cooperation and transfer, (vi) adaptation measures, (vii) the reduction of emissions from international aviation and maritime transportation, and (viii) the regulation of deforestation and land-use (UNFCCC 2007d: points 3, 2). Many of these elements, but also numerous suggestions of other parties were contained in the final report that the co-facilitators transmitted to the COP, without, however, privileging any option, a request explicitly voiced by developing countries (ENB 2007c: 9). Highlighting that broad agreement existed on continuing the Dialogue to come to “an effective global response to climate change”, the report proposed various possibilities as “next steps”: extend debates either (i) under the existing Dialogue or (ii) under the COP; (iii) open a “negotiating process” in a working group with a clear mandate and timetable either separately from the AWG-KP or “fully integrated” with the existing process under the KP (UNFCCC 2007h: points 14, 61, 64). A decision on this was shifted to the Bali COP (UNFCCC 2007h: point 69).

In a second submission transmitted to the UNFCCC secretariat after this fourth session of the Dialogue, the EU further elaborated on each of its eight building blocks (UNFCCC 2007f). Compared to the short and often vague declarations by most other parties that had made submissions at that stage (China, Australia, Canada, Russia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia), the EU – together with AOSIS, which also provided a very detailed blueprint of its ideal outcome17 – was the only player to present a concise vision of its positions.

← 143 | 144 →The AWG-KP focused its debates again on mitigation potentials and “ranges of emissions reductions objectives for Annex I countries”, going analytically into depth, while ultimately remaining inconclusive (ENB 2007c: 4–6). It did, however, discuss and clearly state options for a preliminary agreement on the indicative range of industrialized country emission reductions, which would gain further importance in the negotiations at and after Bali (ENB 2007b: 2; Spence et al. 2008: 146). In the debates on this issue, the EU successfully co-sponsored a proposal together with the majority of the G-77/China (e.g. ENB 2007c: 14), namely to include a reference to the IPCC science by mentioning a range of 25–40% GHG reductions for industrialized countries by 2020 (from 1990 levels) (ENB 2007c: 6). The Union also promoted its position on a long-term global emissions reduction target of 50% by 2050, reflecting the conclusions of the Heiligendamm G-8 summit (ENB 2007c: 4). Both references found their way into the Chair’s conclusions: “The AWG recognized that achieving the lowest stabilization level assessed by the IPCC to date (…) would require Annex I Parties as a group to reduce emissions in a range of 25–40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020”, while also acknowledging that emissions should be “well below half of levels in 2000 by the middle of the twenty-first century” (UNFCCC 2007g: points 7, 6). Despite this small achievement, the EU and others voiced their disappointment about lacking progress in the closing plenary (ENB 2007c: 6).

The two tracks thus advanced discussions on future emission reductions targets for industrialized countries. The AWG-KP report made no explicit reference to the sharing of tasks between developing and developed countries in a future climate regime (UNFCCC 2007g). The Dialogue report however did (UNFCCC 2007h). Since the Umbrella Group, and here notably the US, but also the EU in its two written submissions and in the Dialogue meetings, emphasized that the participation of “all major emitters” was required in future emission reduction efforts, developing countries could not prevent this item from being reflected in the conclusions. The report even noted that the latter were actually prepared to be “part of the global response” in line with national circumstances (ENB 2007c: 8; UNFCCC 2007h: 7). This difference in approach between the two tracks vis-à-vis the interpretation of the CBDR principle would be set forth and become a characteristic feature of the talks that followed. With this preparatory work, the agenda was broadly predetermined for the Bali COP, which negotiators expected to move the debates “from dialogue to action” by extending the mandates for both groups, separately or jointly (ENB 2007c: 11).

← 144 | 145 →During the months before the Bali summit, a number of additional meetings were held outside the UN regime. Among them featured the third ministerial meeting of the Gleneagles Climate Change Dialogue (9–11 September, Berlin), a UN high-level summit in New York (24 September), a US-initiated meeting of the 15 largest emitters and the EU in Washington (“Major Economies Meeting”) (27–28 September) and a pre-COP ministerial meeting in Indonesia (25 October) (ENB 2007d: 2). If anything, they would underscore that – beyond the broad support for talks with a deadline for 2009 and the debate on building blocks – differences on the nature of a future agreement persisted among key countries: in contrast to the EU, other major players were either unprepared to discuss other than voluntary emissions reductions efforts (US, China, India) or remained rather silent on their approach (e.g. Japan) (Reuters 2007b; Spence et al. 2008: 146–148).

The Outcome: Small Advancements Towards a Regime Reform

In terms of regime development, the two conferences/meetings of the parties in 2005 and 2006 achieved mainly procedural results: the continuity of negotiations on the future of the UN climate regime was assured. The year 2007 witnessed then, also under the impulsion of the Fourth IPCC Report, a genuine intensification of concern about climate change across the different coalitions, with even the US administration showing openness for serious global talks. The immediate result was a proliferation of meetings within and beyond the UN arena, gradually leading to a growing impetus for COP 13/MOP 3 to deliver a mandate for a new regime reform process.

The EU’s influence on the first Two-track UN Regime Negotiation Sessions

The EU was certainly among the first and – together with AOSIS – most active parties at both COP/MOPs and in the year 2007 regarding issues related to climate regime development. It continued its trend from previous COPs, arguing forcefully for a comprehensive review of the regime with the intention of gaining leverage over developing countries emissions and, in this fashion, re-engaging the US in the negotiation process. Its major influence attempt was arguably the spring 2007 comprehensive proposal for a post-2012 regime, prominently featuring a 20% unilateral emissions reduction target by 2020 and a range of building blocks. As this attempt was partially already aimed at setting the agenda for a process that had not yet been started, it will be given closer consideration in the analysis of the post-2012 talks in Chapter 5. For the year 2007 itself, the Union’s position contributed, together with other statements of intent by various players, to building the momentum for COP 13. The EU also engaged ← 145 | 146 →in broader foreign policy activities to promote its message more widely, placing climate change deliberately high on the agenda in many global fora (G-8(+5), UNGA, UNSC) and in its existing bilateral relations.

To assess the Union’s influence during this period, it is first necessary to identify possible turning points regarding regime development and the topics of emission reduction targets and responsibilities during the global climate talks of the years 2005, 2006 and 2007. The only major turning point in this period was arguably the eleventh COP and the first MOP in 2005: “future action”, a “taboo topic” before, was now systematically addressed in a two-track negotiations arrangement. At this turning point, the EU cannot be credited with any particular influence. Even if it had been the first and most fervent industrialized party supporter of a start of new negotiations ever since the early 2000s (purposive behaviour, temporal sequence, interaction), it attained its goals only to a very limited extent. The Union could be partially satisfied with the pursuit of multilateral talks on the future of the regime under the UN umbrella, and not, as apparently desired by the US, in multiple arenas (even if the latter did gain increasing importance from the mid-2000s on). However, it clearly did not obtain any substantial advances regarding its concrete demands for the future of the climate regime (discussion of developing country commitments, substantive re-engagement of the US, reference to 2°C target). All options remained on the table. Moreover, the EU was clearly not at the origin of the change of behaviour of the other parties. While it may be argued that it contributed to setting the agenda and to the build-up of momentum in the wake of the 2007 IPCC report, as a reputational analysis indicates (Interviews EU representatives 20, 27, Observers 3, 25), it was neither the only actor, nor can it – in counterfactual perspective, imagining its absence – be argued that the Union was decisive for bringing about the novel commitment to negotiating regime reform. Under the MOP, parties engaged to fulfil a treaty obligation imposed by Article 3.9 KP (“Commitments for subsequent periods for Parties included in Annex I”), while the COP decision to begin a “Dialogue” had originated from the Canadian COP Presidency (Depledge 2006: 17), and the EU had not had any leverage over its content (test on absence of auto-causation: negative).

The major constraint for greater EU impact during this period was arguably an external factor: the ever more protracted multilateral arena. The still obstructive behaviour of the US, the G-77/China’s defence of its past acquis and the other Umbrella Group members’ passiveness made it very difficult for a single player to gain leverage over key decisions. The diversification of the Union’s influencing strategy can be interpreted as a partial and insufficient attempt to take this changing external environment into consideration by addressing other actors also outside the UN arena. It did not yield immediate success in this period.

← 146 | 147 →Determining and Explaining the EU’s influence during the Period 1998 to 2007

Summing up the findings for this ten-year period of regime negotiations, key characteristics of the evolving EU foreign climate policy can be extracted. Its influencing strategy yielded overall limited impact, with two significant exceptions.

The Union’s influence attempts were initially based on diplomatic tools again during this period: it argued with the help of substantive reform proposals in the beginning, and engaged in bargaining only towards the end of negotiation processes (e.g. at COP 6bis and 7). Just like during the Kyoto Protocol talks, the Union began the negotiations on the Protocol’s operationalization with a very inflexible position, insisting on certain conditions sine qua non at COP 6, which ultimately forced it to give in to virtually all demands by the Umbrella Group in order to ensure its overarching aim (rapid enactment of the Protocol) at COP 6bis and COP 7. Following the US withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol ratification process in 2001, however, the Union did slowly begin to alter its influencing strategy. It stepped up its diplomatic efforts to convince others to pursue the ratification of the treaty even without the United States. Later, to force ratification, the EU employed, for the first time in the history of its participation in the climate regime, explicitly and successfully economic tools and issue-linkage with topics outside the climate realm in order to convince Russia of joining the club. After this ratification, it broadened and diversified its strategy to adapt it to the proliferation of new fora (G-8+5, APP) and bilateral partnerships (US-India etc.). This approach provided not only the opportunity to forge hands-on technological cooperation, but also to develop a common understanding and institutionalize dialogues on climate change. In addressing developing countries, the EU thus explicitly employed more than “just” soft diplomatic tools, using economic incentives targeted towards what it perceived to be the demands of its interlocutors as a basis for the partnerships. It was hoped that such a pragmatic and wide-reaching (both in a thematic and geographical sense) outreach would also make up for the Union’s damaged reputation in the developing countries after its very demanding attitude of the years 2002 and 2003. Even if no immediate impact could be detected during this period, the first contours of a much transformed foreign policy strategy helped position the EU for the post-2012 talks and in a long-term perspective (Schunz 2009). The major, once again more formal influence attempt during this period came, however, with the Commission proposal of early 2007, endorsed by the European Council. Its significance would show not so much at COP 13, but certainly during the talks thereafter.

EU influence could be discerned at two of the five key turning points during this period. During the debates on the operationalization of the ← 147 | 148 →Protocol in the period 1998–2001, the Union exerted influence immediately after the US withdrawal with regard to the pursuit of talks under the UN, when it used a broad diplomacy approach to argue for the further continuation of the regime. During the period 2002–2004, the Union influenced the Russian decision to ratify the Protocol in order to guarantee the development of the UN regime. In this instance, bargaining through issue-linkage was the causal mechanism that helped the EU to exert influence.

All in all, when it comes to the extent and type(s) of EU influence during the analysed transitional period of the UN climate regime, the following observations can thus be made. While the Union had virtually no leverage over the substance of decisions during this period, it did – by contributing to the survival of the regime – manage to protect the emissions reduction target it had decisively helped to negotiate in Kyoto. As the rules around this target (supplementarity, sinks) were watered down in the Marrakech Accords and the US (with its -7% target) had withdrawn from the Protocol, the Union’s overall influence on this item was, however, at best medium: the continuity regarding the target was assured for those who ratified the Kyoto Protocol (degree of legal bindingness), but the EU’s degree of goal attainment was only partial. By contrast, it had no impact on the interpretation of the CBDR principle. Beyond assessing EU influence on the substance of the climate regime via these two central issues, the empirical analysis for this period strongly suggests a non-­negligible EU influence over where (in which fora) and how (by what rules) the climate regime is developed – namely within the UN system, by the rules of multilateralism and with respect for what had previously been negotiated. This influence on the structural parameters of global climate negotiations can be characterized as high and rather enduring. Altogether, its influence on the operationalization of the Protocol and on the transition towards a new regime reform process must therefore be interpreted as medium, just like for the Kyoto Protocol negotiations.

Tentative explanations of EU influence were provided in the various sub-sections of this chapter and can be drawn together here to highlight some of the main changes since the Kyoto Protocol talks. While the external environment gradually became less favourable for an exercise of influence by the EU, internal changes in terms of foreign policy making and implementation constituted potential improvements bound to enhance its chances for influencing the climate regime. During this period, the immediate impact of the former tended to outplay the potential of the latter. As far as the external environment is concerned, the US withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol ratification process in March 2001 altered the negotiation context in manifold ways. first, in a context of bargaining, it gave each of the major individual members of the Umbrella Group veto ← 148 | 149 →power on issues concerning the operationalization of the Kyoto Protocol for COPs 6bis and 7, since all of them were needed for a ratification of the Protocol. Second, as the US dropped out as demandeur, it became easier for the G-77/China to defend its achievements of the past and fight off any discussions about broadening commitments. Third, in a medium-term perspective, the US preferences for uni-, bi- and small multilateral action (e.g. partnerships with India, the APP) led to a fragmentation of the negotiations within (Convention vs. KP tracks) and outside (G-8, APP) the UN regime context. Under these conditions, the chances for EU influence decreased because (i) the heterogeneity of preferences further increased, (ii) the number of players (US, Australia) and fora increased; and (iii) some powerful players (US, G-77/China) refused to cooperate under the rules of the (reformed) regime. Partially in reaction to this changing environment, but also to its own weak performances at some of the first seven COPs and in anticipation of enlargement, the EU made internal changes, attempting to improve its actor capacity to enhance its chances for greater influence on the global scene. Both the inclusion of the Commission in the Troika and the introduction of the lead negotiator system were bound to have positive effects on its performance. Further, the EU adapted its influencing strategy by widening the scope of its influencing targets and employing a broader range of tools. Russian ratification of the Kyoto Protocol demonstrated that this change already bore fruit, suggesting that improved foreign policy implementation can enhance the chances of exerting influence. By contrast, within the UN framework, the EU’s formal diplomatic strategy was not efficient, as it was unable to identify enough issue-linkages to allow for bargaining when it came to its desire to advance the regime.← 149 | 150 →


1In 2000, another small and untypical coalition emerged under the term Environmental Integrity Group. It regrouped Annex I and non-Annex I parties (Switzerland, Mexico, South Korea, Liechtenstein, Monaco) (Romero 2004: 10). The group’s overarching aim and founding rationale was to protect the environmental integrity of the negotiation process by proposing consensus positions acceptable to the different other groups (Romero 2004: 20). As the group would not play a major role in the negotiations analysed in this study, it is only explicitly mentioned whenever it or one of its members contributed significantly to the regime talks.

2The political agreement on burden-sharing was, however, not translated into a legal act until a Council decision of June 2002, which, at the same time, constituted the EC’s ratification of the Kyoto Protocol (Council 2002).

3It replaced a Troika consisting of the former, current and future Council Presidencies. This change was also due to difficulties in the EU’s outreach strategy during the negotiations at COP 6, as this chapter explains.

4To recall, during the Kyoto talks, it had been AOSIS and the AGBM chair Estrada, himself from Argentina, who had already championed a provision to allow for voluntary commitments of developing countries (see Chapter 3).

5Prescott had already played an important role during the final days of negotiations at the Kyoto COP when he represented the EU as part of the Troika (see Chapter 3).

6This obviously raises questions about the EU’s influencing strategy and impact in function of US presence or absence during climate talks. They are addressed in the concluding discussion of its influence during this period.

7The major exception was the described debate about developing country commitments at COP 4.

8Quite a few studies that have examined the Union’s external climate activities from a leadership perspective have actually focused precisely on its performance after the 2001 withdrawal of the US from the Kyoto Protocol ratification process to attribute the EU an avant-garde role in the climate regime (see, for instance, Grubb 2001; Gupta/Ringius 2001; Oberthür/Roche-Kelly 2008). An influence analysis perspective demonstrates that its alleged leadership came at a high cost: by making numerous concessions to the other Umbrella Group members, the EU effectively gave up its environmental integrity concerns in order to ensure the continuity of the regime.

9This marks a striking parallel to the Kyoto Protocol negotiations, where the EU also gave in to demands by the US (and Japan) on almost all items to attain its aims regarding the emission reductions target.

10The “blame game” that the UK negotiators and the French EU Presidency engaged in immediately after COP 6 may be one indicator that apparent problems were rooted in divergent preferences (Grubb/Yamin 2001: 274; Dessai et al. 2003: 186–187).

11The strong focus on the US, displayed at COP 6 (Grubb/Yamin 2001: 274), was, however, continued in a different manner thereafter. Indicating how some players within the EU perceived the climate negotiations, the successful ending of the resumed sixth conference, in which the US actually took little active part, prompted EU Environment Commissioner Wallström to comment: “I think something has changed today in the balance of power between the US and the EU” (ENB 2001a: 14)!

12The US change in tactics, breaking its June 2001 promise not to obstruct talks, came in parallel to the administration’s more wide-reaching attempts to forge bilateral energy-related partnerships, e.g. with India, outside the UN context (Ott 2003: 7–8).

13Although President Putin, among others, had promised Russian ratification of the Protocol several times, notably at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, the Duma pondered its approval of the treaty for a long time (Douma 2006: 54). Besides a desire to remain on good terms with the US, many Russians did not believe in the benefits of reducing emissions or contested the science (European Parliament 2003). By contrast, they saw an opportunity to exploit the ratification of the Protocol to shape the relationship with the EU to its advantage, accede to the WTO, and improve its overall international standing (European Parliament 2003).

14Ott et al. (2005: 90) note an interesting parallel between the EU’s constant desire of developing the climate regime and its own evolution as an entity (and foreign policy actor) with a range of treaty reforms in a relatively short time span: 1987 Single European Act, 1993 Maastricht, 1999 Amsterdam, 2001 Nice, 2009 Lisbon.

15As the concrete findings of the report would really only have specific consequences for the talks from the 13th COP in Bali on, they are recalled in Chapter 5.

16The US had apparently hoped to present the Asia-Pacific Partnership as an alternative track to the UN regime. China, India and Japan chose, however, to stick with the UN as the prime arena to discuss climate change (Germanwatch 2006: 5).

17The AOSIS proposal formed the basis of its positions in the post-2012 negotiations and therefore merits brief consideration regarding the two issues under analysis here. On the targets to be adopted under a post-2012 regime, AOSIS demanded that “long-term temperature increases are stabilized well below 2 degrees Celsius” (UNFCCC 2007e: 3). To achieve this, “global GHG emissions must peak within the next 10–15 years, and be followed by reductions of at least 50–80% of 2000 levels by 2050” (UNFCCC 2007e: 3). On the issue of responsibilities, AOSIS stated: “the largest historical emitters must now take aggressive action under the Convention (…) All Annex I Parties should take on hard quantified emission limitation or reduction targets in the Post-2012 period and through 2030. Major emitting developing countries will also need to take action to reduce their emissions trajectories, with assistance from developed country Parties (…) all major emitting countries must, therefore, be engaged in global efforts to mitigate emissions, according to their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” (UNFCCC 2007e: 4–5).