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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 5. From the Bali Roadmap to the Copenhagen Accord (2007–2009): EU Influence on the Post-2012 Global Climate Negotiations

← 150 | 151 →CHAPTER 5

From the Bali Roadmap to the Copenhagen Accord (2007–2009)

EU Influence on the Post-2012 Global Climate Negotiations

This chapter provides an in-depth analysis of the EU’s influence attempts and their effects during a time period that was supposed to lead to the substantial development of the climate regime, but resulted only in minor reforms. It traces the EU’s influence on the “post-2012” climate negotiations during the period 2007 to 2009, starting with COP 13 in Bali and ending with COP 15/MOP 5 in Copenhagen, originally designated as the final point of this negotiation process (see Annex II).

The Context: Major Developments in Global Politics and Climate Science

The period 2007 to 2009 was marked by one important event that would impact on global politics. Moreover, long-term trends concerning global policy-making, the GHG emission trajectories of major countries and advances in climate science played a role in changing the overall framework in which global climate negotiations were conducted.

The major event occurred in mid-September 2008 in the United States, but immediately gained global significance. Following the file for bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, one of the major global financial-services companies, US and global financial markets came under serious strains. This initial distress quickly turned into a major global financial and economic crisis when other financial institutes equally became insolvent. The crisis would have two major repercussions for the global politics of climate change from late 2008 on. firstly, it made many governments across the world pay almost exclusive attention to the economic well-being of their populations, weakening the often already volatile interest for tackling climate change – despite voices from the UN, EU and US calling for solving the economic and climate crises together (Goldenberg 2009a; Dimas 2009; Ban Ki-moon 2009; Yuxia 2008). To stabilize the global economy (inter alia by rescuing major private financial institutions) and to attenuate other effects of the recession (such as growing unemployment), considerable amounts of public money were invested by governments all over the ← 151 | 152 →world. Although the stimulus packages initiated in major countries regularly dedicated a percentage to so-called “green investments” (Goldenberg 2009a; European Commission 2009h), the lion’s share went into other measures, inter alia the stabilization of certain polluting industries (e.g. automotive). The sheer magnitude of public funding also implied that governments felt that fewer resources were available to support mitigation and adaptation measures in developing countries, constraining their own room for manoeuvre on this major cornerstone of the global climate negotiations. The second significant effect of the crisis was a tectonic shift in global (economic) politics more generally, with the sudden rise in importance of the G-20 (gathering the G-8 members, including the EU, as well as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea and Turkey). After several meetings about new regulatory measures for the global financial markets, the forum proclaimed, in September 2009, that it would henceforth replace the G-8 as the key site for coordination among the most significant economies of the globe, including on such issues as climate change (CBS 2009).

Several gradual developments were equally to affect climate negotiations during this time period. Although an immediate product of the crisis, the rise of the G-20 also reflected the growing importance of emerging countries, such as China, India or Brazil (regularly referred to as BRIC, together with Russia, Keukeleire/Bruyninckx 2011), in world affairs. Their heightened significance was, in many cases, a direct result of long-term high economic growth rates, often coupled with equally exceptional demographic weight (e.g. China, with growth rates between 9 and 11.5% in 2004–2008, for 1.32 billion people; India, with growth rates between 7.3 and 9.8% in 2004–2008, for 1.15 billion people – Chinability 2009; CIA 2009). Economic growth had, however, also been accompanied by a stable trend of steeply rising GHG emissions in these countries. In 2007, China had overtaken the US as the world’s number one emitter in absolute terms (PBL 2008). Moreover, studies suggested that the proportions between developed and developing countries were continuing to change dramatically not only in terms of annual absolute emissions, but also with regard to cumulative contributions to the problem of climate change. Under a business-as-usual assumption, China would overtake Western Europe as a cumulative CO2 contributor during the 2020s and the US by mid-century, while India would arrive at an equal level of CO2 emissions as Western Europe by 2080 (Botzen et al. 2008: 571). Taken together, these trends in economic growth, demography and the resulting effects on the global environment were bound to represent a gradual shift in the balance of powers in global (climate) politics. Where past debates on these issues had been dominated, oftentimes and on many agenda items, by the industrialized players, emerging economies were moving centre stage in the second half of the 2000s.

← 152 | 153 →Additionally, the rise of the G-20 provided an emblematic example of the continued trend of an unprecedented increase in the number of fora, meetings and actors in global climate politics. With the partial delocalisation of talks into the G-8(+5), the Major Economies Meeting/Forum and many regional or inter-regional gatherings (the APP, APEC, Asia-Europe meetings, EU/Latin America summits etc.), global climate policy debates became less restricted to the sole UN regime. In the late 2000s, extra-UN meetings would remain related to the UN regime talks, but would also take on a dynamic of their own. The change in quality and quantity of arenas also coincided with an increase in the number of meetings, enabling an almost continual exchange between the representatives of the major players (Interviews US, EU representatives 17, 6). This was further facilitated through new communication technologies that, at the time of the Kyoto talks, had only just begun to become more widely used (Oberthür/Ott 1999: 82–84). finally, climate change became also increasingly subject of exchanges at high political levels and by different constituencies (development experts, finance experts etc.) in the various new fora. This increasing trend of “high-levelisation” would become particularly visible during the final days of the Copenhagen summit. Together with the further explosion of the number of non-party participants in and around global climate talks, be they from civil society, research institutes or the media, this contributed to the growing complexity of the climate politics arena.

Turning to the scientific knowledge about climate change, the successive release of the various parts of the Fourth IPCC Assessment Report (FAR) over the course of the year 2007 marked a major event during this time period. Without repeating details of the FAR already discussed in the Introduction to this work, some of its key messages shaped, together with the 2006 Stern Report that linked the science and the economics, the understanding of climate change and the perceptions of the issue among the interested public and politicians (Hasselmann/Barker 2008: 219). Those messages were above all: 1. “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal” (IPCC 2007b: 30); 2. Some impacts of climate change may be “abrupt or irreversible” (IPCC 2007a: 13); 3. Stringent early action is necessary to prevent its most worrisome consequences. With regard to the latter, it was especially various GHG stabilisation scenarios – linking, e.g., a 2°C global mean temperature increase above pre-industrial levels to a stabilisation at 450 ppm, which would necessitate a peak in global GHG emissions by 2000–2015 and a reduction of 50 to 85% by 2050 – that would acquire significance as points of reference in global debates (IPCC 2007b: 67). finally, compared to its predecessors, the FAR had a much higher public resonance, underscoring the urgency with which climate change had to be tackled (Garber 2008).

← 153 | 154 →Key Actors in the Global Climate Regime and their Positions

To further set the stage for the process-trace, the negotiation positions and their foundations as well as the strategies of the main coalitions/countries in the regime negotiations prior to the kick-off (and as far as relevant and not explicitly taken up during the discussion of the negotiation process also in the early stages) of the post-2012 negotiations require particular consideration.1 The analysis focuses in the first instance on the key actors other than the EU, before explicitly discussing the Union’s actor capacity and position.

Key Actors Other than the EU

The Umbrella Group continued to be split across UN negotiation fora in 2007: under the Framework Convention, the US was an active part of the Group, while it played (formally) a marginal role as observer in debates on the Kyoto Protocol.

In 2007, the United States possessed still the largest economy in the world, and had only just ceded the top spot as the world’s biggest GHG emitter to China (World Bank 2008; UNSD 2009). As a result of its high dependency on fossil fuels (oil: 40%, coal: 23% of total energy production in 2006, US EPA 2008: ES-12), significant growth rates were still directly linked to rising emissions. As of 2006, these had increased by 14.7% compared to 1990 (US EPA 2008). In the face of these numbers, and despite observable ecological and socioeconomic impacts, the perception of vulnerability to climate change in the US had, for a long time, remained rather low (Romàn/Carson 2009: 41–42). It would only change in the course of the late 2000s under the more compelling evidence of climate science (IEEP/NRDC 2008: 60–61). One contributing factor to the fairly limited degree of concern had been the attitude of the Bush administration, which had downplayed or even opposed the findings of climate scientists ever since the 2001 withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol ratification process.2 In the particular US institutional context for climate policy-making (see Chapter 3), which grants a strong role to Congress (and here notably the Senate), the fact that the latter was Republican-dominated for much of the time during the Bush era meant that “no federal policies of significance” were enacted between 2001 and 2008 (Urpelainen 2009: 100). Yet, “while climate change policy appear[ed] ← 154 | 155 →hopelessly deadlocked in Washington, a set of state governments that cut across partisan and regional lines [was] demonstrating that it is possible to make some significant inroads on the issue” (Rabe 2004: 4).3 These and other, civil society-based initiatives (IEEP/NRDC 2008) did, however, not have a major impact on the administration’s overall position and strategy in the global climate negotiations. Until the end of 2007, it “rejected binding country-by-country limits on greenhouse gas emissions, focusing instead on a long list of voluntary bilateral and regional initiatives”, such as special ties with India and China and the APP as well as, since September 2007, the “Major Economies Meeting” gathering countries that covered 80% of the world’s emissions (Pataki/Vilsack 2008: 27–28). Although unique in its domestic inactivity, the Bush administration’s negotiation position actually represented a continuation of long-standing US positions in global climate talks. For quite some time, the US had emphasized the importance of hands-on technology-­based international cooperation to ensure cost-effectiveness of climate policies, notably through the use of flexible mechanisms, and had been concerned with the participation of major emerging economies, particularly China, in the global climate regime (Urpelainen 2009: 101–103; Biermann 2005: 276–277). It was not until late 2007 and 2008 that US climate policies would slightly alter, before undergoing significant transformations, paired with a change in public attitudes, in 2009. Without going into the details of the development of the US position, discussed where relevant in the process trace, the Bush administration did, in 2008, begin to acknowledge the necessity to act on climate change, with the President proposing to halt the growth of US emissions by 2025 (AFP 2008a). Further, during the presidential election campaign of 2007/2008, both Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain displayed greater willingness to engage on climate policy domestically and globally (AFP 2008b). At the same time, a now Democratic majority in Congress attempted to have climate legislation passed: the most wide-reaching of several proposals, the Liebermann-Warner Climate Security Act, foresaw a stabilization of GHG emissions at 2005 levels by 2012, and a reduction by 70% until 2050. It was voted down in the Senate in June 2008 (Spiegel 2008b).4

← 155 | 156 →An almost complete reversal in terms of (i) the attitude towards climate change (both by political elites and growing parts of the public),5 (ii) the necessity of global cooperation on the issue, and (iii) the means of achieving climate-related policy objectives could then be detected after Obama had taken office with the promise of reducing emissions by 80% by 2050 (Urpelainen 2009: 112, 100–117; Romàn/Carson 2009). Regarding his administration’s approach to global climate politics, it quickly became clear that domestic policies would have to precede US commitment to a global climate agreement: “the US will have no international credibility until it acts decisively at home” (Stern/Antholis 2007/8: 177; Pataki/Vilsack 2008). By following this approach, the US government wanted to avoid a repeat of the frustrating experiences associated with the Kyoto Protocol (Interviews Observers 23, 4). This implied, as further developed in the story of the negotiations, that the Obama administration – and here in the first place the State Department negotiators – would be waiting for any type of legislation out of Congress as a basis for committing to climate policies negotiated globally.

As of 2007, Japan’s stance in the global climate talks had not considerably changed since the Kyoto COP. The main economic and political conditions for policy-making on this issue had remained stable. As the second largest economy in the world, Japan remained the sixth largest emitter in the late 2000s (behind China, the US, the EU-27, Russia and India) (World Bank 2008; van Asselt et al. 2009: 321), with an important fossil fuel dependency (oil represented 46%, coal 21% of the energy production in 2006) (Korppoo 2009a: 71). Measures to curb emissions, mainly through the 2005 “Kyoto Protocol Target Achievement Plan”, comprised policies and measures such as voluntary targets for large companies and energy efficiency standards for vehicles and appliances (Korppoo 2009a: 74–76). Advances in energy efficiency were, however, offset by rising car and household appliance sales. As a result, Japan’s emissions had grown by 5% in 2006 compared to 1990 levels, and were further on the rise (Korppoo 2009a: 73). In 2007, its 6% Kyoto emissions reduction target seemed thus out of reach (Luta 2009: 4). Policy-making on climate measures had regularly been subject to intense struggles between the concerned Ministries of the Environment (MOE) and of Economy, Technology and Industry (METI, formerly called MITI). As “Japanese society and economy ha[d] traditionally been industry-oriented” and climate change had not yet become a major topic in public debates, business interests – defended by METI – played a decisive role in the definition of policies (Interview EU representative 24; Korppoo 2009a: 78–79). In the past, turf wars ← 156 | 157 →between these two players had been settled through interventions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and/or the Prime Minister injecting foreign policy considerations into the debates (van Asselt et al. 2009: 322). Such considerations usually concerned the country’s relationship with China and the US as well as its desire to sustain the global leadership it had provided regarding climate change through hosting COP 3 (van Asselt et al. 2009: 320–321; Korppoo 2009a: 79). This type of internal struggles based on tensions between ecological, economic and foreign policy considerations continued well into the analysed period. When defining the country’s position for the post-2012 talks, successive Japanese governments had refused to quantify mid-term reduction targets in 2007, offering only a long-term aspirational aim of halving emissions by 2050 (van Asselt et al. 2009: 323). Further specification of this position became necessary in 2008 when Japan was to host the G-8 summit (Interview EU representative 24). During the debate preceding the summit, “the Ministry of the Environment (MOE), together with a network of environmentally-minded NGOs, pushed for a post-Kyoto commitment that would be in line with the EU’s –20% target”, but opposition was “organized, fierce and unapologetic” (Luta 2009: 4). The final position would only emerge in mid-2009, and be subject to an unprecedented reversal by a new government in September of that year, as further discussed in this chapter. A more stable element of Japan’s position concerned the long-standing call for “meaningful participation” of all major emitters in global mitigation efforts (UNFCCC 2007j). A novelty in the expression of this interest was its proposal to distinguish among categories of non-Annex I countries on the basis of criteria such as emissions share or wealth indicators (e.g. GDP/capita) (van Asselt et al. 2009: 324). It proposed that different groups of countries should adopt varying measures, ranging from binding targets to voluntary commitments (Korppoo 2009a: 67; Interview EU representative 24). In the defence of these positions, Japan initially adopted a strategy best characterized as a “two-arena game”, with participation in the UN regime as a major forum to discuss a global policy framework and in the APP as an arena to pursue interests regarding technological cooperation and to intensify relations with partners (US, China) (van Asselt et al. 2009: 326–332).

The Russian Federation had been the latecomer to the Kyoto Protocol, and joined it for reasons related to economic self-interest rather than climate mitigation as such. As the ninth largest economy on the planet in 2007, the country was the fourth largest emitter (behind China, the US, the EU-27) due to its high reliance on gas (53% in 2006), oil (21% in 2006) and coal (16% in 2006) (World Bank 2008; UNSD 2009; Korppoo 2009b: 88). Russia’s role during the Kyoto Protocol’s ratification process demonstrated that the country did not really possess a clear conception of ← 157 | 158 →the importance of climate change and its own vulnerability to its effects, with Russian elites and the public paying little attention to and, to some extent, denying the threats related to climate change (Andonova 2009: 38; Korppoo 2009c: 4). As Russian compliance with its Kyoto target of stabilizing its emissions over the period 2008–2012 (against 1990 levels) was never really endangered,6 few domestic measures had been put into place. A key tool was the “Energy efficient Economy” programme including a range of macroeconomic policies to reduce energy intensity by modernizing economic structures. The definition of both internal and external climate policies had long been led by the largely independent Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring (Roshydromet), placed under the responsibility of the Ministry of National Resources during the period analysed here (Korppoo 2009b: 82). Gradually, the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade had also taken on a stronger role in the definition of the country’s climate policies (Andonova 2009: 42). Together with the highest political leaders (President and Prime Minister) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, these actors would also be responsible for defining Russia’s position for the post-2012 talks. Both economic interests and foreign policy concerns (improved relations with key partners such as the US and the EU) were therefore bound to loom large in its external strategy (Andonova 2009: 47; Korppoo 2009b: 97). In 2007, the Russian position for the post-2012 negotiations was yet fairly opaque. Certainly, the Federation wanted to defend the Kyoto Protocol framework and to “maintain some cushion of ‘hot air’” in this new round of talks by refusing to accept much higher reduction targets for itself and promoting the continued use of the Kyoto flexible mechanisms (Andonova 2009: 47). At the same time, it “strongly support[ed] emission caps for developing countries” and thus a broader involvement in the emissions reduction efforts in a future climate regime, preferably through an indicator-based distinction between groups of countries, an approach similar to Japan’s (Andonova 2009: 47). In this context, Russia called for taking national conditions into greater account and attempted to demonstrate that it would qualify as an emerging rather than a fully industrialized country (Korppoo 2009b: 82–83). More concrete components of the Russian position would, however, unfold only toward the end of the negotiations in 2009 (Korppoo 2009b: 81).

Among the other players in the Umbrella Group, two larger emitters require special mention. While Canada had not followed the US in the early 2000s by ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, but would at no point since ← 158 | 159 →1997 undertake sufficient measures to actually comply with its 6% reduction target,Australia moved in the opposite direction (Drexhage et al. 2008: 8; Cass 2009: 21). Where the Conservative Howard administration had opposed the Kyoto Protocol for a long time, following the US by withdrawing from the ratification process in 2002 – and this despite its allowance of increasing emissions by 8% during the first commitment period – a new Labor government voted into office in late 2007 reversed this tendency by immediately ratifying the Protocol (Cass 2009). Australia equally had difficulties in meeting its Kyoto objectives, however. Both countries would also define their negotiation positions with regard to the US stance. For Canada, this implied an ever closer alignment with its neighbour’s position, based on own emission reduction goals of 20% by 2020 and 60–70% by 2050 (compared to 2006 levels) (Environment Canada 2007). For Australia, it meant more distance from the US and a (relatively) greater alignment with the EU. During his campaign, the new Prime Minister Rudd had called for GHG reductions by 60% until 2050 (from 2000 levels) (UNFCCC 2008n: 2).

The G-77/China had been acting as a UN negotiating bloc throughout most of the history of the climate regime, although this had never been self-evident, seeing its “internal heterogeneity along such key variables as prosperity, emissions and vulnerability to climate change” (Kasa et al. 2008: 114). The rise of the BASIC7 countries (Brazil, South Africa, India, China) since the late 1990s raised the question of whether they were not gradually evolving into a distinct category of player, neither fully developed nor yet developing. Their more active role in global climate policy-­making and greater bilateral engagements with major industrialized partners such as the EU and the US actually suggested that they might become “less dependent on group membership” in the G-77 (Kasa et al. 2008: 114, 119, 121–122). In addition to this emerging gap, the cleavage between AOSIS and OPEC persisted during the second half of the 2000s. What essentially held the G-77/China together was the shared feeling that only a united defence of common interests would guarantee enough resources to weigh in the negotiations (Kasa et al. 2008: 118). This rationale had proven quite reasonable during the Kyoto Protocol talks. The bloc’s positions for the post-2012 negotiations remained thus similar to those promoted earlier, geared toward a defence of the main principles of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol. Based on the CBDR principle, which reflected a shared concern about the right to economic development and the common idea that the main historic responsibility for dealing with climate change lay with the industrialized world, the bloc called on the ← 159 | 160 →latter to undertake meaningful emission reductions and provide financial and technological support, while demanding to be exempt from own “further commitments” (Kasa et al. 2008: 116). The negotiation of concrete common positions flowing from these key concerns necessitated, however, a quasi-constant coordination, almost exclusively organised on the spot during UN climate negotiation sessions (Observation notes June, Nov., Dec. 2009). Despite all attempts to forge unitary positions, the coalition would frequently speak with many, diverging voices. Differences between key players within the bloc justify a closer look at their positions.

Due to its unprecedented economic growth (making it the third biggest economy in the world behind the US and Japan), demographic development and, as of 2007, top place in the global ranking of GHG emitters, China had made the perhaps most pronounced assent within the global climate policy arena since the 1990s (World Bank 2008; PBL 2008; UNSD 2009). This confronted the country with a major dilemma. To improve the living conditions of its more than 800 million poor, the Chinese government saw no alternative to a further continuation of its economic growth. Further growth of China’s export-oriented economy, however, inevitably implied ever-increasing levels of GHG emissions, as the country’s energy was generated – fairly inefficiently – primarily through the combustion of coal and oil (for an overview: Lewis 2007/8: 156–158; Jakobson 2009: 33, 37–39). At the same time, the Chinese government had begun to realize the importance of tackling climate change: immense forest loss and progressing desertification in Western regions were demonstrating the country’s vulnerability, and it was expected that its large agricultural sector would further suffer from weather extremes in the future (Harris/Hongyuan 2009: 53–54). Signs of growing attention paid to climate change had been, internally, the adoption of laws and new institutions to improve the management of the problem. Measures foreseen in the 2007 Chinese National Action Plan on Climate Change complemented those already initiated with its 2005–2010 predecessor. They included, above all, energy intensity (“China will achieve the target of about 20% reduction of energy consumption per unit GDP by 2010”) and diversification targets, but also measures on afforestation and vehicle standards (NDRC 2007: 26; Jakobson 2009: 39–41). Decision-making on these climate policies passed primarily by two bodies: the National Coordination Committee for Climate Change (NCCCC), set up in 1998 and regrouping 13 government departments coordinated by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC),8 and a national leading group on climate change created in 2007 and headed by Premier Wen ← 160 | 161 →Jiabao (Harris/Hongyuan 2009: 56; Lewis 2007/8: 159; Interviews EU representative 1, Observer 28). Decisions were prepared by lead ministries, notably the NDRC, a body concerned primarily with developmental as opposed to environmental concerns (Kasa et al. 2008: 120). This institutional set-up demonstrated that climate change had increasingly become a high-level affair in China. Given the overall rise of importance of the topic and the fact that climate change had long been considered a foreign policy issue in the country, this was not so surprising. Long-standing guidelines for its stance in global environmental and climate policies had been closely related to a set of central foreign policy concerns (Harris/Hongyuan 2009: 60–63): 1. The primacy of economic development over environmental protection (defended by the NDRC); 2. The concern for safeguarding its sovereignty, including the control over its natural resources; 3. Its preoccupation, shared with the G-77, about equity and “fairness” in global environmental affairs, embodied in the CBDR principle; 4. Its self-perception as a leader of the developing world and key player in global politics, promoted by the MOFA (Jakobson 2009: 44–45). In line with these considerations, China had also sought to strategically exploit its “dual status as a developing country (…) and its growing role as a top contributor to global environmental problems” (Harris/Hongyuan 2009: 57; Lewis 2007/8: 162): while representing the G-77/China position in the UN negotiations, it concluded bilateral partnerships around energy issues with the US, Australia or the EU, and participated in the APP (Kasa et al. 2008: 121). As a result of this set of premises, the 2007 Chinese negotiation position on key issues was characterized by a refusal of own binding emission reduction efforts, demands on developed countries to lead by reducing their emissions by 25–40% below 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80–95% by 2050 and by providing financial and technical assistance (Jakobson 2009: 24–25). China also favoured a second Kyoto Protocol commitment period.

Another significant player within the G-77/China, India, had also experienced years of steady high growth, elevating it to twelfth in the world in terms of the size of its economy, and to fifth regarding global GHG emissions in 2007/2008 (World Bank 2008; UNSD 2009). Despite high growth figures, India had been characterized as “a rich country with poor people”, where more than 80% of the population lived on less than $2 per day (Imhasly 2008). At the same time, it was one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change: the low adaptive capacities of its poorest exposed them almost helplessly to, e.g., changed weather patterns. In spite of this, the topic was “not yet on the radar of everyday people, or even policymakers” before the second half of the 2000s (Bhandari 2006, cited in Korppoo/Luta 2009: 62, 64). Where the few domestic policy debates about climate change had focused on economic development issues until ← 161 | 162 →then, India slowly began to implement measures on renewable energy promotion, energy efficiency standards or reforestation (Rajamani 2008: 20; Korppoo/Luta 2009: 60). Despite these activities, it was estimated that its energy needs would double by the year 2020 under a business-as-usual scenario (Rajamani 2008: 19). As much of its energy was produced through coal (39%) and oil (25%) combustion, and energy intensity was high, emissions were thus further bound to grow (Korppoo/Luta 2009: 56–59). India’s negotiation stance in the global climate policy arena had traditionally been based on the notion that climate change was above all a foreign policy issue. It had been conceived by a relatively small circle of experts from the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Environment and Forests (Korppoo/Luta 2009: 61–62). Their conviction was, ever since Indira Ghandi’s appearance at the 1972 UNCHE, that India’s economic development (poverty eradication, access to energy and electricity) should take precedence over environmental considerations (Korppoo/Luta 2009: 47). Insisting on its role as a developing country and the centrality of fairness in global climate talks, Indian negotiators regularly employed tough rhetoric to “shame and blame” the West by slashing at its alleged “luxury emissions” (Kennedy 2009; see also Michaelowa/Michaelowa 2011). 9 This moralizing argumentation strategy had not prevented the country from exploiting, similar to China, its emerging country status by concluding privileged bilateral accords on energy-related issues with the US (e.g., around nuclear energy) and the EU (on energy technologies more largely) and by joining the APP (Kasa et al. 2008: 122; Interview EU representative 31). In 2007, the concrete Indian negotiation position was fairly defensive: stylizing itself as a leader of the developing world, it refused to take on any binding emission reduction targets allegedly intended to “keep developing countries poor”, demanded that the industrialized nations live up to their duty of leading in the global efforts (in line with the CBDR principle) by curbing their emissions and delivering financial and technological aid in the multilateral framework of the UN regime (Korppoo/Luta 2009: 47–52; Rajamani 2008). The country therefore also argued forcefully for a continuation of the Kyoto Protocol. Moreover, the Indian government promoted the concept of per capita entitlements to GHG emissions (Rajamani 2008: 21). In 2008, it declared that the country’s per capita emissions would never exceed the OECD average (Shanka Jha 2009: 4).

Similar developments as in these two countries were noted for Brazil, and to some extent, South Africa: “fighting against commitments within ← 162 | 163 →Kyoto through the G77 (…) and enjoying the fruits of their increasing global influence by participating in other agreements linking energy and climate outside the formal negotiations seems to be the chosen ‘‘opportunistic’’ strategy of China, India and Brazil at the moment” (Kasa et al. 2008: 122). This also implied, however, that the BASIC countries – as an increasingly informally organised group – still did share key positions with the large bulk of less and Least Developed Countries in the G-77/China. The latter group had, however, also a range of distinct interests. Many African nations, but also highly vulnerable Asian countries like Bangladesh were already – and even more so than during the 1990s – experiencing the negative consequences of climate change, although their contribution to this problem had been virtually nil. As a result, they not only demanded that mitigation efforts by industrialized countries be accelerated, but also that the latter provide urgent and sufficient funding for adaptation measures. Often insufficiently staffed, financed and organised, the delegations of these countries would experience difficulties in voicing their opinion in the negotiations, however (Observation notes June, Nov., Dec. 2009). A notable development as compared to previous rounds of negotiations was the attempt by the African Union – including many LDCs, but also South Africa – to forge a distinct common position.

With their demands, the LDCs and the African Group overlapped to a certain extent with AOSIS. As the most vulnerable players in climate talks, and in contrast to the LDCs, the AOSIS members had been able to strongly organise themselves. The coalition therefore also continued to be amongst the most vocal players well into the time period analysed here. It demanded more and faster mitigation efforts by developed – and (major) developing! – countries so as to limit mean temperature rise to a maximum of now 1.5°C (AOSIS 2009). Concretely, this meant that global emissions “should peak by 2015 at the latest, and decrease thereafter to at least 85% below 1990 levels by 2050” (AOSIS 2009). Like the LDCs, AOSIS called for increased Annex I funding efforts for adaptation activities (AOSIS 2009).

Finally, OPEC continued its attempts “to decelerate negotiation progress” by delaying discussions (Kasa et al. 2008: 114). What is more, according to observers, as “the OPEC country delegations – with Saudi-Arabia as its most powerful member – [were] resourceful enough to dominate the smaller and much poorer LDCs, they [were] able to influence G77 positions disproportionately in their own favour” (Kasa et al. 2008: 124). OPEC’s positions on the substantial issues of interest in this analysis were clear: ideally, it desired no further development of the regime. If this could not be avoided, it wanted to ensure that no emissions reduction efforts were asked of developing countries, including its own members (Observation notes June, Nov., Dec. 2009).

← 163 | 164 →The European Union: Actor Capacity, Negotiation Positions and their Foundations

With the enlargements from 15 to 27 members, the climate policy-relevant diversity within the EU regarding such indicators as prosperity, energy production systems and GHG emissions trends had further increased. As a result, the heterogeneity of interests and preferences on how and why the Union should be engaged in global climate policy had equally grown. Further, diverging beliefs about the EU’s role in global (environmental) politics rendered climate policy-making more intricate.

The material differences leading to diverging interests within the EU could hardly be more pronounced. Regarding energy systems, while some countries were producing the bulk of their energy from a single fossil fuel like coal (Poland), others were already basing their energy production on a comparatively large share of renewables (Finland, Sweden); still others were relying to a larger extent on nuclear power (France, Sweden, Lithuania, Belgium) and a final group utilized energy mixes in which various fossil fuels (coal, gas) played important roles (e.g. Germany) (EEA 2008). In terms of GHG emissions, as of 2007, the largest contributors to the EU’s overall emissions were Germany, the UK, Italy and France, with obviously much higher absolute emissions than smaller member states. Big differences persisted, however, in the per capita emissions between Luxembourg at the upper and Latvia at the lower end of the spectrum (UNSD 2009; EEA 2007). Some countries were over-complying (the UK) or largely in line (Germany, Greece) with their Kyoto target in the mid-2000s, whereas others, like Italy, Austria or Denmark, were substantially deviating from it (EEA 2009).10 This non-negligible heterogeneity of climate-relevant national conditions found its expression in a cleavage between two extremes: countries with traditionally more progressive preferences on the issue (Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, the UK) on the one hand and a majority of mostly smaller countries that was more concerned about the potential interference of progressive climate policies with their economic well-being (essentially the new, but also some old cohesion countries in the East and South of Europe) on the other hand (Lacasta 2008: 9). It made the EU appear – in its own understanding – as a “laboratory” for the international climate negotiations.11

← 164 | 165 →Despite this preference heterogeneity rooted in different interests and beliefs, the Union was able to define key contours of its position fairly early in the post-2012 negotiation process. Several reasons for this have been noted (on what follows: Oberthür 2009: 205–206; van Schaik/van Hecke 2008: 5–6). first, the beliefs of progressive EU members regarding the necessity to let the precautionary principle prevail and exploit economic opportunities of early action on climate change had been reinforced since the Kyoto Protocol negotiations, especially through the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report and the 2006 Stern Report (Interviews EU representatives 7, 32; Scheipers/Sicurelli 2007: 445–450; Damro/Mendez 2003: 79). This was notably the case in the UK, but also, for instance, in Germany or the Netherlands (Interviews EU representatives 7, 22, 8, 10). Their perceptions of climate change, largely shared also by the European Commission, would gradually become widely accepted within the Union and thus contribute to confirming a set of long-­standing collective beliefs. In terms of environmental protection, the Union had – already since the mid-1990s – advocated to limit the increase of global mean temperature to 2°C. It now used the new IPCC findings to solidify this argument. Economically, the EU saw a further margin for de-­carbonising its energy systems, both in the context of intensified energy independence debates of the mid-2000s (Dehousse/Bekkhus 2007) and under international pressure through the Kyoto targets (Costa 2009). The wish to comply with the Kyoto targets also reflected long-standing beliefs of the majority of EU members in multilateral problem-solving and international law (Van Schaik/Schunz 2012; Scheipers/Sicurelli 2007: 448). Second, as of 2007/2008, the environmental and economic framing of climate change would be supplemented by a third vision of the problem: following a report by the EU’s High Representative for CFSP and the Commission, the topic was increasingly perceived as a security threat (European Council 2008a). This raised the awareness of the EU’s foreign policy community to this topic, contributing to its greater involvement in the Union’s external climate policy, while further increasing the salience of the issue for EU policy-makers generally (Schunz et al. 2009). Third, institutional factors contributed to the Union’s continued proactiveness on climate change despite preference heterogeneity. Differences among member states were attenuated through the unique institutional framework created under the Environment Council. Regularly gathering environmental experts from the member states and the Commission’s DG Environment, it contributed to their socialization in a strongly pro-­climate environment. This gradually led to the emergence of a fairly small group favourable of a strong role for the EU in climate policies at regional and global levels (Costa 2007; Interviews EU representatives 21, 6). In addition to these ideational, instrumental and institutional determinants of the Union’s stance on climate change, the matter also acquired a high priority ← 165 | 166 →status due to public demand: a 2008 Eurobarometer report showed that 75% of the interrogated Europeans considered climate change to be a “very serious problem” (with responses ranging from 96% in Cyprus to 59% in the UK) and a majority thought that neither national governments nor the EU were doing enough about it (Eurobarometer 2008: 15–16; 46–50). At a time of constitutional paralysis – ratification attempts of the Constitutional (and later the Lisbon) Treaty would initially fail – these public demands allowed the Union’s elites to use climate change as a driver for internal policy-making as well as to strengthen its profile as a global player.

The Union’s actor capacity seemed further improved at the outset of the post-2012 negotiations in legal and institutional terms. To assess the legal bases for its involvement in the UN regime negotiations, it is first of all necessary to identify the international legal overture for its participation in UN bodies. A Regional Economic Integration Organisation clause in the treaty (Art. 24 KP) granted the EC and its member states the right to participate as full member in the Meetings of the Parties to the KP (Pallemaerts/Williams 2006: 39). Just like under the UNFCCC, the EC thus enjoyed the same rights as other parties regarding such matters as tabling, speaking and voting in debates on the Protocol. If it had to vote, it would do so on behalf of all its members, preventing them from exercising individual voting rights (and vice-versa) (Art. 22 KP). The provision would acquire crucial significance in a context of twin-track post-2012 talks under both the Convention and the Protocol. Internally, the legal bases and treaty objectives for its involvement in the UN regime in primary EU law had largely remained unchanged with the treaty reforms of Amsterdam (in force since 1999) and Nice (since 2001). This implied that the competences between the EC and the member states remained shared (Art. 174 TEC). The evolving internal climate policy acquis and modifications in the way decisions on internal and external climate policies were prepared, taken and interlinked meant, however, that “the complexity and character of EU climate decision-making ha[d] changed between 1997 and 2008” (Vogler 2008: 5). Where climate change had above all been an external EU policy during the Kyoto period, the gradual design of a European climate regime led to a closer interaction between internal and external policy-making (Jordan/Rayner 2010). This development came with some intricacies. On the one hand, internally and externally, the institutional structures created under the Environment Council had become the centre of decision-making, with the Working Party on Climate Change (WPIEI-CC) as the “engine” defining the Union’s external position (Lenaerts 2009). On the other hand, internal and external climate policies were governed by different decision-making rules. Internally, significant measures were taken in co-decision between the Environment Council and the European Parliament, which ← 166 | 167 →played thus a major role in the continued set-up of the Union’s regional climate regime. By contrast, the procedures for the definition of foreign policy positions largely excluded the Parliament12 and required consensus decisions by the Environment Ministers.13 Increasingly since the mid-2000s, it also required the confirmation through the European Council.

Once adopted, the EU’s negotiation position would be represented in the global arena by the Climate Troika (consisting of the current and future Council presidencies and the Commission)14 as well as the lead negotiators, together ensuring the outreach of the EU in bilateral and other informal meetings linked to the UN negotiations (Lenaerts 2009). In the UN talks, the lead negotiators would speak almost exclusively on behalf of the EU, with individual member states virtually never taking the floor (Observation notes June, Nov., Dec. 2009).15 Under the impulsion of the Presidency, the expert groups under the WPIEI-CC would be responsible for the preparation of lines-to-take papers and the internal coordination on the spot. EU coordination meetings were held every morning during UN sessions, while expert groups met throughout the day, sometimes even several times (Observation notes Nov., Dec. 2009; Interviews EU representatives 20, 8, 29). EU coordination was to ensure constant exchanges between the 28 (member states and Commission), a flow of information between negotiators involved in different fora and – in the Expert Group on Further Action (EGFA) and the WPIEI-CC – the opportunity to discuss strategies (Observation notes June, Nov., Dec. 2009; Interviews EU representatives 13, 20; Vogler 2008: 3). Information, such as reports on informal meetings with third country parties, was also dispersed electronically so that each EU member state delegation would be up to date about the latest state of play (Observation notes Nov. 2009). During COPs, ← 167 | 168 →coordination meetings would take the form of informal WPIEI-CC meetings, Environment Councils and, at COP 15, even of informal European Councils, reflecting the pattern of increased high-level involvement in EU climate policy-making. Transcending the immediate framework of the UN negotiations, the EU’s representation would increasingly involve actors from the Commission’s DG Relex and member state diplomats (Schunz et al. 2009). Together with the Troika, these players ensured the foreign policy implementation of the EU in bilateral summits (EU-China, EU-India, EU-US etc.), through the promotion of bilateral partnerships with key countries or regions and in fora such as the G-8, G-20 and the Major Economies Meeting/Forum (Lenaerts 2009). Often, an implicit, but not officially validated task-sharing could be observed in exchanges with third countries, based on EU members’ traditional relations with particular (groups of) countries (e.g. Spain with Latin American countries; the UK with members of the Commonwealth; Portugal with Brazil etc.) (Interviews EU representatives 6, 9, 20, 10). Further, diplomats from member state embassies and the Commission’s delegations were increasingly being implicated in the EU’s outreach in many third countries identified as key to the Union’s interest, including the US, Japan, China, Brazil and India (Interviews EU representatives 1, 2, 30, 12, 24, 26; Schunz 2009). To cite but one example, representatives from (mostly the bigger and well-resourced) member states and the Commission would jointly promote the Union’s position in the US capital. Coordination in Washington was ensured by the country holding the Presidency or the Commission. As seen earlier, the foremost activity of such “local Green Diplomacy Networks” was the carrying out of démarches before major UN sessions, on the basis of negotiation directives adopted by the Environment Ministers and targeted towards the conditions of the host country.

The Union’s negotiation position and intended strategy for the post-2012 talks can best be understood when discussed in the context of the closely intertwined internal climate policy developments in 2007. The evolution of these parameters forms part of the process analysis. The overarching aim with which the European Union had entered the post-2012 negotiations after the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol was laid out as early as February 2005 in the Commission communication “Winning the battle against climate change”, which advocated the establishment of a post-2012 regime guided by a 2°C target and covering emission reduction actions by developed and major developing countries (European Commission 2005). After the European Council had already called for reduction pathways for developed countries in the range of 15–30% by 2020, discussions on the Union’s own post-2012 reduction target were started in December 2006 (European Council 2005). In the Environment Council, the UK, Germany, Italy and Sweden, together with Environment ← 168 | 169 →Commissioner Dimas, were reported as having pleaded for a 30% reduction by 2020 (compared to 1990 levels); Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, but also Spain and the Enterprise Commissioner Verheugen were more reluctant, arguing that the EU should wait to see what other major parties would propose before making “a hasty declaration of commitment” (European Commission 2005: 16; Vogler 2008: 22; Jordan/Rayner 2010: 73). At the same time, the ministers stressed “the need to significantly accelerate international negotiations (…) in 2007 with a view to their completion by the end of 2009” in an effort to avoid leaving a gap after the expiry of the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012 (Council 2006: 18). The EU’s contribution to accelerating the negotiations would be specified in early 2007, settling the strategic divergences between the two groups of countries – as well as intra-Commission rifts between different DGs – through a compromise (Interviews EU representatives 6, 8). The January 2007 Commission communication “Limiting Global Climate Change to 2 degrees Celsius: The way ahead for 2020 and beyond” proposed that developed countries, including the EU, should ultimately reduce their emissions by 30% from 1990 levels until 2020 and that “until an international agreement is concluded (…) the EU should already now take on a firm independent commitment to achieve at least a 20% reduction of GHG emissions by 2020 (…) This approach will allow the EU to demonstrate international leadership on climate issues” (European Commission 2007b: 2). Based on this and the Environment Council conclusions of February (Council 2007a), the March 2007 European Council set out a full position on key elements of the “negotiations on a global and comprehensive post-2012 agreement, which should build upon and broaden the Kyoto Protocol architecture” (European Council 2007: 11). The heads of state and government called on industrialized countries to commit collectively to emissions reductions “in the order of 30% by 2020 compared to 1990. They should do so also with a view to collectively reducing their emissions by 60% to 80% by 2050 compared to 1990” (European Council 2007: 12). Provided “that other developed countries commit themselves to comparable emission reductions and economically more advanced developing countries to contributing adequately according to their responsibilities and respective capabilities”, the EU showed preparedness to reduce its emissions by 30% (European Council 2007: 12). Publicly presented as leverage over the emissions of other major emitters, this conditional offer signified also a concession of the more progressive players within the EU, which allowed for maintaining the internationally well-known leading-by-example stance. Even if no global agreement was reached, the European Council adopted the Commission formula by making “a firm independent commitment to achieve at least a 20% reduction by 2020 compared to 1990” (2007: 12). Internal differentiation ← 169 | 170 →was called for to share the “effort” and the Commission was invited to propose comprehensive climate policies such as a reform of the ETS, which was to become the cornerstone of an international carbon market (European Council 2007: 12, 13, 11; Vogler 2008; Jordan/Rayner 2010: 74). With this, a clear link between the EU’s external and internal policies was established. To provide the basic negotiation directives for COP 13, the Environment Council of October 2007 reiterated these positions, solidifying the Union’s argumentation scientifically by including the findings of the Fourth IPCC Assessment Report (Council 2007b: 10–17).

To understand the further evolution of the EU’s positions in the course of the post-2012 talks, a brief look needs to be taken at the range of legislative proposals introduced by the European Commission in 2008 in response to the request by the European Council. To achieve the 20% emission reduction pledged unilaterally, the Commission introduced a “climate and energy package” including a reform of the ETS, suggestions on effort-sharing for national emissions not covered by the ETS, directive proposals on carbon capture and storage and on the promotion of renewable energy sources as well as a draft regulation for car emissions (European Commission 2008c). The package was negotiated during the course of that year among the member states and between the Council and the European Parliament. It was politically adopted by the European Council and – in first reading – by the European Parliament in December 2008 (Council 2008d; European Parliament 2008; Agence Europe 2008m; Jordan/Rayner 2010: 74–76). Its formal adoption by the Council on 6 April 2009 marked a “momentous development”, as it lifted climate policies to unprecedented levels of harmonisation within the EU (Council 2009d; Jordan/Rayner 2010: 76; van Schaik 2010: 270). Without going into any details on the genesis of the adopted measures, relevant aspects of which will be taken up in the process analysis, the importance of the regulatory package cannot be overstated (Morgera et al. 2011). Its significance for the EU’s external climate policies was above all strategic: the Union was the first major actor in the international climate arena to come up with a set of ambitious legislative measures. In the eyes of the Union’s decision-makers, this implied a huge credibility gain, which was to underpin – unlike during the Kyoto Protocol talks when the EU’s ambitious target proposal had been characterized as “unrealistic” – its “leading-by-example” approach. It was expected to give the Union moral authority when making demands on other parties in the talks (Oberthür 2009: 200–202).

The Negotiation Process and the EU’s Influence Attempts

The political developments of the early 2000s had transformed the post-2012 climate talks into a highly complex global process. To analytically ← 170 | 171 →deal with this complexity, this section provides a focused, phased narrative process-trace of the EU’s activities and their effects in this process between late 2007 and late 2009, emphasizing particularly the talks on the core norm of the climate regime (emissions reduction targets) and its key principle (CBDR), but, where necessary, also on related issues (notably finance). To disentangle the web of interlinked negotiation arenas within and beyond the UN, several sub-plots are integrated into a single narrative, and the reader is provided a visual aid by highlighting the discussed level in bold.

Preparing for Copenhagen: the Years 2008 and 2009

The 13th conference of the parties to the UNFCCC and the third meeting of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol were held in parallel between 3 and 15 December 2007 in Bali, Indonesia (COP 13/MOP 3). Many parties had declared beforehand that they intended to initiate a comprehensive regime reform process (see Chapter 4). The EU had underpinned this willingness through its first major influence attempt in early 2007: the disclosure of its targets and overall position. Just before the COP/MOP, another Annex I party would underscore its seriousness about the talks: Australia’s incoming government, led by Prime Minister Rudd, ratified the Kyoto Protocol, leaving the US isolated as the only major industrialized player who had not done so (Peake 2007).

In Bali, debates on the future of the Kyoto Protocol were mostly held in a contact group as part of the resumed AWG-KP 4. They focused mainly on the future work programme of the group, adopted relatively swiftly (Spence et al. 2008: 148). It was agreed that the AWG should pursue its work until MOP 5 in 2009 according to a clearly delimited timetable (ENB 2007j: 17; UNFCCC 2007b). Three conflicts on key issues emerged, however, all of which prominently involved the EU. first, and directly related to the issue of responsibilities, the EU had demanded in its written submission before the Bali meeting as well as in the contact group that the discussions on the future commitments of Annex I countries and the (second) review of the Protocol under Article 9 KP be coordinated (UNFCCC 2007i: 3; ENB 2007e: 2). Supported by Japan, this proposal was met with fierce resistance from the G-77/China, both in the AWG and in the group that was to prepare the second Article 9 review scheduled for MOP 4 in 2008. Anxious to avoid discussions about own binding emission reduction actions, the developing countries argued that the review should focus on the “implementation” of the Kyoto Protocol (ENB 2007f: 1). By contrast, the EU, Japan and other industrialized countries suggested debating the “effectiveness” of the Protocol, which would have cleared the path for reconsidering the utility of distinguishing between Annex I and non-Annex I countries (ENB ← 171 | 172 →2007i: 2). As in past debates about this topic, it was the G-77/China position that would win out: the final MOP decision re-iterated that the review would not lead to new commitments for any party (UNFCCC 2007l; ENB 2007j: 17).16 Second, some members of the Umbrella Group and the EU argued for a coordination between discussions in the AWG-KP and those to be held under the Convention on a post-2012 regime (ENB 2007e: 2.). Here again, the G-77/China was strictly opposed and managed to obtain its will in the parallel process under the Convention. Third, in its submission on the “Development of a timetable to guide the completion of the work of the AWG” of late October 2007, the EU had clearly stated its adherence to climate science as presented in the latest IPCC report, referenced – following EU and AOSIS proposals and insistence – in the AWG report adopted at the August 2007 Vienna meeting (AWG-KP 4, part 1) (UNFCCC 2007i: 2). During discussions in the relevant contact group, Canada, Russia, China and India argued against including the numbers (25–40% by 2020, 50% by 2050) in the final MOP decision, supporting a textual proposal that solely mentioned the report of AWG-KP 4, part 1 (ENB 2007j: 16). The EU, together with the majority of G-77/China and several industrialized countries, successfully defended its position in the closing plenary of the AWG against Canadian and Russian resistance (ENB 2007j: 17, 20).

Discussions on long-term cooperative action under the Convention were held in a contact group under the COP on the basis of the draft report on the Dialogue, which had met four times since COP 11 (UNFCCC 2007h). They focused on the precise shape of the future negotiation process as well as on the building blocks identified in the report, systematically addressing the major questions raised by the co-facilitators (above all: in which framework and “what to negotiate, when, and for how long”?) (ENB 2007e: 2). The EU had made its vision of regime development proceedings very clear: it desired the adoption of a “Bali Roadmap”, i.e. an agreement covering all parties that would begin one comprehensive negotiating process to result in a post-2012 agreement by 2009, including components of the Kyoto Protocol and the results of broader Convention consultations (ENB 2007e: 2). After a first week of talks about the details of the various “building blocks” (ENB 2007g), a “non-paper” incorporating major proposals was circulated by the Indonesian Presidency on 8 December. Framed as a COP decision, it contained a “Bali Roadmap” encompassing two negotiation tracks and ← 172 | 173 →the proposal to conclude negotiations by late 2009 (ENB 2007h: 1–2). Regarding the institutional set-up of negotiations, this “non-paper” limited the four options identified in the draft report on the Dialogue to three: a continuation of the existing Dialogue since Montreal; an open-ended ad hoc working group; and an open-ended ad hoc working group combined with the AWG-KP process (ENB 2007h: 2). The latter option best represented the EU’s position, while most G-77/China members and the US preferred option 2 so as to keep discussions under the AWG-KP and under the Convention apart. This majority would also impose its view: a new ad hoc working group on long-term cooperative action was created (AWG-LCA) that would operate in parallel to the AWG-KP (ENB 2007j: 15). Two more substantial issues contained in the non-paper would be much more controversial, sparking considerable conflicts during the final days of talks. The first one concerned, in similar fashion as in the AWG-KP, the reference to IPCC science. It would thus have repercussions for the discussions on the level of ambition of the global emissions reduction target. The preamble of the non-paper remarked the “unequivocal scientific evidence” and pointed to the necessity that Annex I parties cut emissions by 25–40% below 1990 levels until 2020, that global emissions peak within 10 to 15 years, and that they need to be more than halved by 2050 (ENB 2007h: 1). These references, which had not been met with resistance during the August Dialogue in Vienna, and were supported by the EU and the developing countries, were now criticized by the US, Japan, Canada and Russia as “attempting to prejudge the outcome” (ENB 2007j: 15). The second issue touched upon one of the building blocks of the future talks that the non-paper elaborated on (mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology, shared vision): developed and developing country mitigation and the link between them (ENB 2007h: 1–2). Closely related to the CBDR principle, it generated a peculiar debate (ENB 2007i: 2).

Both issues would be at the heart of the high-level segment during the final days of the COP. During these talks, the EU attempted to increase its pressure on the US: if the latter refused to engage in a comprehensive negotiation process, EU representatives (such as the French and German Environment Ministers) threatened to boycott future Major Economies Meetings, i.e. the extra-UN processes initiated by the Bush administration to discuss climate and energy policy among the big emitters (Germanwatch 2007: 1; Interview EU representative 15, Video 12 Dec. 2007). Despite these European efforts, the final COP decision reflected US preferences regarding the references to the IPCC science. It only mentioned the IPCC’s FAR in its preamble (“emphasizing the urgency to address climate change as indicated in the Fourth Assessment Report”) and placed a footnote behind “urgency” (UNFCCC 2007n: 1). This footnote contained a reference to specific pages in the FAR, on which the different ← 173 | 174 →temperature scenarios assessed by the IPCC could be found. This allusion to the science represented a much less favourable outcome for the EU and the G-77/China under the Convention (with the US present as major antagonist) than under the Kyoto track (without the US) (Spence et al. 2008: 149). The second controversial issue essentially opposed members of the Umbrella Group (the US, Canada) and the G-77/China: while the former wanted the final document to contain strong references to developing country action/commitments, the developing countries refused this, even demanding clearer commitments by Annex I countries (ENB 2007j: 15).

Compromise language on the formulations in the non-paper was worked out on 14 December, the last official day of the COP, in a “small group of ministerial-level representatives” (Müller 2008: 2). This group reportedly forwarded the following text to the COP President: on developed country mitigation, it stated that a future agreement was to address “the consideration of enhanced national/international action on mitigation of climate change, including (…) measurable, reportable and verifiable nationally appropriate mitigation commitments or actions, including quantified emission limitation and reduction objectives, by all developed country Parties, while ensuring the comparability of efforts among them” (this was later to become part of the Bali Action Plan: UNFCCC 2007n: 2). On developing country mitigation, no agreement had been reached and so two options were presented (Müller 2008: 2–3). Option 1 read that “Nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing country Parties (…) supported and enabled by technology, financing and capacity-building, in a measurable, reportable and verifiable manner” should be considered, while option 2 stated that “Measurable, reportable and verifiable nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing country Parties in the context of sustainable development, supported by technology and enabled by financing and capacity-building” were to be undertaken. Both options clearly created a link between developing country action and industrialized country assistance, but differed with regard to one important item: option 2 was supported by the industrialized countries, including the EU, because it indicated that the nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) of developing countries had to be “measurable, reportable and verifiable”. By contrast, the formula preferred by the G-77/China was option 1, as “measurable, reportable and verifiable” referred to developing country actions and technology transfer and finance by industrialized countries (Spence et al. 2008: 149; Müller 2008: 3).

The “Proposal by the President” introduced in the COP plenary of 15 December did not reflect the differences on this issue, but simply stated option 2 (Müller 2008: 3). This prompted the Indian delegation to intervene and point out that the option at hand was not supported by the G-77/China, reiterating option 1 (Video 15 Dec. 2007, part 1). After two ← 174 | 175 →interruptions of the talks allowing for internal G-77/China coordination and consultations with the COP President, the meeting resumed with a speech by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, “making an unscheduled return” to the meeting and telling the delegates that “everybody should be able to make compromises” (Reuters 2007c; Video 15 Dec. 2007, part 2). The COP President then suggested replacing his initial proposal (option 2) with the formula preferred by the G-77/China. The EU, which had kept a very low profile in this conflict until then – agreeing with the Umbrella Group demands, but wanting to ensure that an outcome would be reached – was the first party to support, “as a sign of the spirit of cooperation, compromise and trust, among us”, the Indian proposal (Video 15 Dec. 2007, part 2). Other members of the Umbrella Group remained silent, until, a few minutes later, the US would request the floor and refuse the adoption of the Bali Action Plan. The willingness of developing country leaders to engage in emission reduction efforts had not been reflected in the text, according to the US delegate, and the new paragraph represented “a significant change in the balance” compared to what the COP had worked towards over the whole two weeks (Video 15 Dec. 2007, part 2). After intense further discussions in plenary, including interventions by South Africa assuring the US that “measurable, reportable and verifiable” applied to both developing and developed party actions, and immediately following an appeal by Papua New Guinea addressed to the US,17 the Americans changed course (Video 15 Dec. 2007, part 2; ENB 2007j; Reuters 2007c).18 Remarking that they had listened closely to the declarations of the developing countries, the US delegate affirmed to “join consensus with this today” (Video 15 Dec. 2007, part 2). With this, the path was cleared for adopting the Bali Action Plan (UNFCCC 2007n). Together with the MOP decisions, notably to continue the AWG-KP (UNFCCC 2007k), this formed what was informally referred to as the “Bali Roadmap” (for a summary: UNFCCC 2007m). A brief discussion of its major components sets the stage for analyzing the negotiations that followed until COP 15/MOP 5 in Copenhagen.

With the Bali Action Plan, the COP decided “to launch a comprehensive process to enable the full, effective and sustained implementation of the Convention through long-term cooperative action, now, up to and beyond 2012, in order to reach an agreed outcome and adopt a decision at” COP 15 (UNFCCC 2007n: Point 1, emphasis added). This process was to ← 175 | 176 →concentrate on the four previously identified building blocks as well as on discussions of a “shared vision for long-term cooperative action, including a long-term global goal for emission reductions, to achieve the ultimate objective of the Convention” (UNFCCC 2007n: Point 1(a)). To this end, the Action Plan contained an indicative schedule of four meetings in 2008 (UNFCCC 2007n: Point 6, Annex). Arguably central to the Plan were the paragraphs on developed and developing country mitigation and the link between the two. For the first time since the early 1990s, developing countries were prepared to discuss NAMAs, a sufficiently broad concept that could imply voluntary or binding actions, although the CBDR principle had been prominently retained (UNFCCC 2007n: point 1(b)(ii); ENB 2007j; Ochs 2008: 2). In return, the US joined the negotiation table again, prepared to equally consider emission reduction actions, including quantified emission reduction objectives (QELROs) (UNFCCC 2007n: point 1(b)(i)).

Commentators stressed the importance of the fact that the text did not mention the distinction between Annex I and non-Annex I countries that had characterized the climate regime for such a long time (Ochs 2008). UNFCCC Secretary General de Boer even referred to the “dismantling of the Berlin Wall” between groups of countries in the climate regime (ENB 2007j: 19). Industrialized country assistance would, however, be a precondition for developing country actions. The Bali Action Plan did not give any guidance on how to resolve the issue of who should go first (industrialized or developing countries), foreshadowing a possible catch-22 situation. Similarly, other major issues were completely left open (e.g. the nature of commitments or the legal form of the “agreed outcome” stipulated) (Spence et al. 2008: 151).

The first EU reactions to the Bali Roadmap were positive. The EU head of delegation, Portuguese Environment Secretary of State Rosa, was quoted in the press as saying: “It was exactly what we wanted. We are indeed very pleased” (Graham-Harrison 2007). This publicly displayed satisfaction about the type of outcome the EU had promoted (a “roadmap”) could not mask the rather defensive role it had been forced to play during the second half of the meeting, when it tried to fight off attempts at watering down provisions on the science and the bindingness of commitments from both the Umbrella Group and the G-77/China (Ott et al. 2008: 93; Interview EU representative 27).

The year 2008 witnessed a slow start into the post-2012 talks, with parties only beginning to unveil parts of their positions both within and beyond the UN framework. The EU used the year to re-design its internal climate regime in preparation of COP 15 as well as for outreach toward partners. Prior to the first sessions of the working groups created in Bali, a number of fora outside the UN arena allowed for loose exchanges of ideas on the building blocks of the Bali Action Plan. On 30–31 January ← 176 | 177 →2008, the second “Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change” – following a US initiative the EU had originally threatened to boycott in Bali – brought together the 17 biggest global emitters (including the EU) in Hawaii to consult on the operationalization of the Roadmap (Xinhua 2008b). A similar debate was held between 11 and 13 February in the UN General Assembly, allowing for broader participation (ENB 2008a: 2). In mid-March, Japan hosted the fourth round of the G-8+5 Gleneagles Dialogue on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development, holding “open and meaningful discussions (…) on the 3 main issues: Technology, finance, and Post-2012 International Framework” (MOE Japan 2008a). On the crucial question of mitigation objectives, the Chair’s conclusions stated that parties “acknowledged the importance of sharing a long-term goal” and, regarding a mid-term objective, “reaffirmed the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities as a premise of the discussion” (MOE Japan 2008b: 3). This wording underscored major parties’ unwillingness to be more concrete on the crucial issues of targets at this early stage in the talks as well as the continued strong link between target debates and the question of “who will do what?” in the future regime. Bilateral meetings involving the EU included Troika exchanges with Latin American and Caribbean countries in February (Agence Europe 2008a: 5). Moreover, at a second Transatlantic High-Level Dialogue on Climate Change on 7 March in Washington, DC, the EU and the US stressed the importance of renewed cooperation and highlighted the significant role of extra-UN bodies in advancing the talks (US Mission 2008).

Within the EU, the Commission had, as early as January 2008, tabled its legislative proposals of the climate and energy package, providing for the Union’s second major influence attempt in this still novel negotiation process. Notably the proposed legislation on the reform of the Emissions Trading Scheme contained a number of strong signals to the external world.19 Especially vis-à-vis other developed countries (e.g. the US, Australia, Japan), the EU hoped to be able to use its ETS positively by making it the key reference for cap-and-trade systems in the world and providing incentives for these countries to design GHG emissions schemes compatible to its own (Benwell 2009: 100–101; Interviews EU representatives 26, 27).20 Negatively, the EU attempted ← 177 | 178 →to employ its reformed ETS as a “club good” to which access could be restricted if others did not follow its preferences with regard to climate change mitigation (Benwell 2009). This approach was reflected in the explicit linkages between the ETS and other Kyoto mechanisms (notably the CDM).21 As “carbon-market participants based in the EU [were] by far the main players in the CDM market, (and) China (…) by far the biggest host of CDM projects, followed by India, then Brazil”, this was – potentially – a “strong piece of leverage” over emerging economies (Earthtimes 2008). Shortly before the first negotiation session under the Bali Roadmap, the Environment and European Councils of March 2008 would accept the package on the whole as a basis for negotiations in the Council and between the Council and the Parliament, to be finalized by the end of the year (Agence Europe 2008b, c).

In the UN climate regime, the first session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention and AWG-KP 5, part 1 were convened between 31 March and 4 April 2008 in Bangkok. Under the AWG-LCA, talks focused on designing a work programme (UNFCCC 2008a, e; ENB 2008b: 6–7). In line with the EU’s position, it was agreed to focus on all items of the Plan in an equal manner in eight workshops organised throughout 2008 (UNFCCC 2008g: 3). Brief substantial discussions on key topics demonstrated differences: while many parties across all coalitions agreed on the need for a long-term goal and the necessity to differentiate among countries on the basis of “comparability criteria”, key G-77/China members, like China or Brazil, argued that actions should be national and only nationally “measurable, reportable and verifiable” (MRV); by contrast, the EU and other industrialized countries called for further consideration of what “MRV” would have to mean for different groups of parties (ENB 2008b: 4–5). The AWG-KP focused on the analysis of the means at the disposal of Annex I countries to reach (yet to be specified) future emission reduction targets (UNFCCC 2008b). Delegates debated primarily the use of flexible mechanisms, LULUCF accounting rules and the possible introduction of sectoral mechanisms (ENB 2008b: 8–12). Their ← 178 | 179 →conclusions indicated a general agreement on the need to keep LULUCF activities, “emissions trading and the project-based mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol (…) available to Annex I Parties” (UNFCCC 2008h: 2). The EU greeted this result as “sending a strong signal to the private sector” (ENB 2008b: 12). “No formal link” between the AWGs “was extensively discussed” (ENB 2008b: 12). The session thus fulfilled its mostly procedural tasks, without achieving any substantial results.

Numerous bi- and multilateral meetings involving the EU were held in the spring of 2008. On 17–18 April 2008, a third Major Economies Meeting in Paris dealt primarily with the issues of technological cooperation and long-term emission reduction targets, but without “tangible agreement” (Xinhua 2008a). The EU’s bilateral exchanges with some of the major players equally remained without results, but did facilitate mutual understanding of positions. Whereas the EU-Japan summit (23 April, Tokyo) helped to discover areas of convergence, especially with regard to the necessity of adopting binding targets, the Japanese expressed their unwillingness to specify a medium-term objective at this stage of the negotiations (Agence Europe 2008d: 3). From a meeting between Commission President Barroso and several Commissioners with high-level Chinese officials in Beijing (24–26 April), the EU retained: “indications of Chinese readiness to include its domestic emission reduction policies in an international agreement”, provided that developed countries committed to 2020 reduction targets and promoted technology transfer (European Commission 2008b, emphasis added). China had thus clearly stated that it would not commit to anything but voluntary reduction measures. More fruitful exchanges were held with Latin American countries in May 2008, with both sides agreeing to strive for a legally binding agreement (Agence Europe 2008e: 4–5). finally, the outcome of the US-EU summit of 10 June in Brdo, Slovenia, testified to continued differences. A confidential US strategy paper had leaked shortly before the meeting and revealed the Bush administration’s preference for voluntary solutions in the framework of the Major Economies Meetings, pointing to a potential clash with the EU’s multilateral approach (Spiegel 2008a). As a result, and besides a vague commitment to a UN-based agreement by late 2009, the parties’ joint declaration contained no major points of convergence (Council 2008b).

While the next UN negotiation session was kicked off, the EU’s internal legislative process, so crucial for its external activities on climate change, was picking up speed: taking stock of the climate and energy package debates, the Slovenian Presidency could report progress in the Environment Council of 5 June. At the same time, several member states were beginning to demand more flexibility in the approach to climate and energy policies, with only Germany, finland, Denmark and the ← 179 | 180 →Netherlands reported as strongly supporting the original Commission proposals (Council 2008a; Agence Europe 2008f: 8–9). The French Presidency would thus have to accomplish the bulk of the work during the second half of 2008 (Agence Europe 2008f: 8–9).

AWG-LCA 2 and AWG-KP 5.2 were held in parallel to the habitual UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies meeting in Bonn between 2 and 13 June 2008. The AWG-LCA worked on each of the building blocks of the Bali Action Plan. On mitigation and differentiated responsibilities, debates illustrated the continued differences between the industrialized countries and the G-77/China: while the former considered it necessary to reform the climate regime in a way that would cover all major emitters, the latter insisted on the need to distinguish between developed country obligations and developing country “actions” (ENB 2008d: 3–4; ENB 2008c: 1–2). To overcome these bold oppositions, the Chair invited parties to submit written proposals on all elements of the Bali Action Plan (UNFCCC 2008i: 1). The work programme for 2009 foresaw four sessions of up to eight weeks to prepare COP 15 (ENB 2008d: 4–5; UNFCCC 2008j). In the AWG-KP, discussions of the means available to developed countries for reaching their future emission targets were pursued, focusing once again on flexible mechanisms, LULUCF rules and the possibility of adopting sectoral approaches (ENB 2008d: 5–8). No issues were settled. As in Bangkok, linkages between the two tracks (and between the AWG-KP and discussions of the Article 9 review of the Kyoto Protocol prepared by the SBI),22 demanded by the Umbrella Group and the EU, met with resistance from major developing countries. Not surprisingly, the Union lamented that progress in both working groups was clearly too slow (ENB 2008d: 5, 8).

The major non-UN climate-related meeting during the summer of 2008 was held in Toyako, Japan. Between 7 and 9 July, both the G-8 and the G-5 (China, India, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa) leaders got together. The former reiterated their 2007 Heiligendamm agreement: “We seek to share with all Parties to the UNFCCC the (…) goal of achieving at least 50% reduction of global emissions by 2050 [through] contributions from all major economies, consistent with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” (G-8 2008: point II). This formula linked a long-term emissions reductions goal to the recognition that “what the major developed economies do will differ from what major developing economies do” and added “in this respect, ← 180 | 181 →we acknowledge our leadership role and each of us will implement ambitious economy-wide mid-term goals” (G-8 2008: point II, emphasis added). The G-5 summit, driven by China, by contrast, had a clear, quantified idea of the emission reductions to be adopted by industrialized countries: 25–40% of 1990 levels by 2020 and 80–95% until 2050, in line with the IPCC’s 2°C scenario (G-5 2008; Jakobson 2008: 25). Only if the developed world committed to such targets, the G-5 countries would increase their NAMAs, if “supported and enabled by financing, technology and capacity-building with a view to achieving a deviation from business-as-usual” (G-5 2008: point 18). On 9 July, the two groups met to issue a “Declaration on Energy Security and Climate Change”, which remained strikingly silent on mitigation. As the parties could not agree on a commitment to a quantified reduction goal, they only set out ideas on the other building blocks so as to “advance the work of the international community (…) to reach an agreed outcome by the end of 2009” (MEM 2008: point 3). The EU, as the driving force behind the Heiligendamm agreement, considered the G-8 and G-8+5 meetings as positive steps, especially with regard to the newly introduced notion of (yet unspecified) mid-term targets among the major industrialized players, but Commission President Barroso recognized that “much more” needed to be done, notably to get the emerging countries to take on emission reduction efforts (Agence Europe 2008g: 7).

The next round of UN climate negotiations was convened in Accra, Ghana (21–27 August). Ample party input to AWG-LCA 3 was used to move from a position-stating to more engaged exchanges of views through the establishment of three contact groups: one on mitigation, one on adaptation and one on technology and finance (UNFCCC 2008c; ENB 2008g: 3–4). On mitigation, debates turned primarily around the issue of differentiation between parties and revealed the familiar developed/developing country cleavage (ENB 2008e: 2). The question of the legal bindingness of the outcome was equally raised: while many Umbrella Group parties called for a legally binding result of the AWG-LCA work, major forces in the G-77/China refused this, arguing that the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol had enshrined a distinction between the legal form of actions of different groups of countries (ENB 2008f: 1). Similarly, the Umbrella Group’s repeated call for linking discussions under the LCA and KP tracks met again with resistance from developing countries (ENB 2008g: 4). In its conclusions, the AWG-LCA could therefore only request the UNFCCC secretariat to compile all proposals in one document (UNFCCC 2008k). It was hoped that this would provide a sufficient basis for “shift[ing] into full negotiating mode in 2009” by organizing “work accordingly”, i.e. creating more time to exchange ideas (UNFCCC 2008l: 1; ENB 2008g: 5). The first part of AWG-KP 6 ← 181 | 182 →pursued discussions on the methodological issues of the means for Annex I countries to reach future emission reductions targets (ENB 2008g: 6–9). With this and calls for further expertise, debates remained in an analysis and early positioning phase. None of the initiated debates were concluded at the end of the meeting, during which the EU had kept a rather low profile (ENB 2008g: 6–9).

A limited number of important multilateral events – overshadowed by the onset of the financial and economic crisis – was organized in the immediate run-up to COP 14/MOP 4. A preparatory meeting was organized in Warsaw in mid-October by the Polish COP Presidency: environmental ministers from over 30 countries exchanged views, but did not reach any type of agreement (AFP 2008c). They did, however, affirm their commitment to solving the problem of climate change despite the global crisis. A similar message emerged from the G-20, bringing together the world’s biggest economies. At a special summit on the financial crisis (Washington, DC, 13–14 November 2008), leaders recognized the need to continue tackling climate change even in times of economic downturn (G-20 2008: point 15).

The EU also engaged in bilateral outreach before COP 14. Represented by the European Commission, it met with the African Union in Addis Ababa on 8 September to adopt an energy partnership intended to strengthen cooperation between the two continents (Agence Europe 2008h: 12). Three weeks later, the EU Troika got together with Indian representatives in Marseilles. The two parties agreed to reinforce their ties, notably through a “Joint work programme on energy, clean development and climate change”, but could not synchronize their positions in any way, with India insisting on a strict interpretation of the CBDR principle (European Commission 2008e, f). In late October, the Asia-Europe meeting held in Beijing, though mostly concerned with the financial crisis, issued a declaration that expressed “the need to act with resolve and urgency” against climate change (ASEM 2008: point 21). This call could not mask substantial differences regarding the question whether emerging countries needed to make (binding) emission reduction efforts or not (Agence Europe 2008i: 11).

Within the EU, talks on the climate and energy package were just entering into their decisive stages in both the Council and the European Parliament when the Environment Council issued the negotiation directives for the Poznan COP in October. It re-affirmed positions outlined since the spring of 2007, essentially the call on industrialized countries to reduce emissions in the range of 30% and the need for major developing countries to deviate from business-as-usual by 15 to 30% by 2020 (at 1990 levels) (Council 2008c). It further “underline[d] the need to speed up preparation of the Copenhagen agreement” (overcoming the slow pace ← 182 | 183 →of the 2008 talks), “recall[ed] that the Copenhagen agreement must be reached within the UN process” (and not in the Major Economies format) and “underline[d] the importance of an ambitious mid-term target” (urging other industrialized countries to make theirs known) (Council 2008c: 7–11). Further, the Council highlighted “its intention to strengthen its partnership with Africa”, the LDCs and AOSIS and the “need to build on the Kyoto Protocol” (Council 2008c: 7–11).

As key parties’ positions had not evolved considerably in 2008, major players, including the EU, were hoping that COP 14/MOP 4 in Poznan (2–13 December) would become a useful intermediate step towards Copenhagen. The European Commission estimated that the COP would be successful if the work programme for the negotiations in 2009 was specified, “consensus on a common vision of the future agreement with objectives between now and 2020 and 2050” was reached, and further talks on how to reinforce the Kyoto Protocol were conducted (Agence Europe 2008j: 11). Mirroring developments of the entire year 2008, the event turned out to become a “pit stop” of relative irrelevance, however (Santarius et al. 2009). While the story of the summit can thus be told swiftly, a second plot would become more intriguing for this analysis: in parallel to the COP, the EU was negotiating its climate and energy package.

In the opening plenary of the COP, organizational matters were dealt with, with the election of the former UNFCCC Secretary General Michael Zammit Cutajar (Malta) to the post of Chair of the AWG-LCA as the most noteworthy decision – he would preside over this crucial body well into COP 15 (ENB 2008l: 2). AWG-LCA 4 then took up negotiations on the basis of an “assembly document” gathering all positions expressed up to that point (UNFCCC 2008m). In addition to the previously established contact groups (mitigation, adaptation, finance/technology), a fourth group was created on shared vision, reflecting the importance that many parties, including the EU, gave to this topic (ENB 2008l: 12–13). Neither this group nor an informal roundtable of ministers on shared vision would, however, deliver a concrete outcome on the key issue of a long-term target (ENB 2008l: 13; ENB 2008k: 2). Proposals were, in fact, quite divergent: the EU and some other parties spoke in favour of stabilizing global mean temperature rise at 2°C, whereas AOSIS argued that only 1.5°C would guarantee the survival of low-lying islands; still other countries were completely opposed to expressing their ambition in the form of a temperature limit (ENB 2008h: 2). Other familiar conflicts concerned the time horizon for mitigation actions. Industrialized countries, like Japan, were focusing on the long term, while developing countries were demanding emission reductions by industrialized countries in the range of 25–40% of 1990 levels by 2020 already (ENB 2008h: 2). When explaining its own proposals on this issue, the EU was confronted by South Africa: ← 183 | 184 →stating that even the Union’s upper target proposal of 30% reductions by 2020 was not ambitious enough, it questioned the scientific basis for the EU’s demand that major emitting developing countries should deviate by 15–30% from business-as-usual by 2020 (ENB 2008h: 2). Two contentious points also arose on the issue of differentiation (Murphy 2009): rifts between Annex I and non-Annex I countries were set forth with the habitual arguments by industrialized (“the world has changed”) and developing countries (“you have to lead”) (ENB 2008l: 13), while, on the issue of MRV, the verification of NAMAs was once again taken up. The EU argued for a revision of the outcome of parties’ actions, whereas India spoke for the emerging countries when it stated that it could not accept the international review of adequacy of developing country actions (ENB 2008j: 2). At the end of the session, progress on this and other issues under the Bali Roadmap (adaptation, finance) was virtually non-­existent (Santarius et al. 2009: 20). The conclusions by the Chair remained therefore general, the detailed outline of a work programme for 2009 excepted (UNFCCC 2008n). Promising again to “shift into full negotiating mode”, parties invited Zammit Cutajar to prepare “a document for consideration at its fifth session” and a negotiating text for the sixth session of the AWG-LCA in June 2009 (UNFCCC 2008p: 2; UNFCCC 2008n: 1). To prepare this document, the group requested parties to provide input on “the content and form of the agreed outcome at COP 15” (UNFCCC 2008p: 2). As basis for further talks, the “assembly document” prepared for this session would also be revised (UNFCCC 2008p: 2; revised document: UNFCCC 2008d). All ideas, including the EU’s, remained thus on the table for 2009.

Discussions in AWG-KP 6, part 2 were not more conclusive: although the EU and others had expressed their willingness to shift into “full negotiating mode” immediately, the debates were again mostly concerned with the means of reaching emissions reduction targets and fell short of a real confrontation of ideas (ENB 2008l: 14; Santarius et al. 2009: 4–5). For the first time since Bali, discussions were however held on the nature and magnitude of the actual emissions reductions to which the means that had been pondered over the entire year 2008 should contribute. Parties advanced concrete proposals on emission reduction ranges, with the developing countries and the EU advocating the 25–40% reduction range for industrialized countries by 2020 (from 1990 levels) of the IPCC’s 2°C scenario (ENB 2008i: 2). Most industrialized countries preferred the bottom up approach of national pledges, to be made at a later stage in the process (ENB 2008l: 15). In its conclusions, the “AWG-KP agreed that further commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol should, for the next commitment period, principally take the form of quantified emission limitation and reduction objectives” ← 184 | 185 →(UNFCCC 2008q: 2, emphasis added). This obviously did not preclude any other outcome. The major agreement within the AWG-KP concerned therefore the concretization of its 2009 work programme (UNFCCC 2008o). Parties agreed to come to draft conclusions on “the scale of emission reductions to be achieved by Annex I Parties in aggregate” by AWG-KP 7 and on the “contribution of Annex I Parties, individually or jointly, (…) to the scale of emission reductions to be achieved by Annex I Parties in aggregate” by AWG-KP 8 (UNFCCC 2008o: 5). Other topics on the agenda until MOP 5 (duration of the commitment period(s); “how QELROs could be expressed, which includes how the base year is expressed”; coverage of GHGs) resembled those debated during the Kyoto Protocol talks (UNFCCC 2008o: 2). Parties were requested to provide input on these issues until mid-February 2009.

Altogether, the decisions validated by the COP and the MOP regarding the post-2012 regime reform were thus “meagre”, amounting essentially to a copy-and-paste exercise of what had been agreed in Bali (Santarius et al. 2009: 20, 4–6).23 Poznan, and with it the year 2008, had thus ended without “significant breakthroughs” on key issues (ENB 2008l: 1). It clearly fell short of what the EU had called and hoped for.

In parallel to the Poznan summit, EU member states had entered the final stage of negotiations on the climate and energy package. Several key conflicts had remained unresolved even after a special meeting between the French Presidency and reluctant Eastern European member states on 6 December in Gdansk, only a couple of hundred kilometres away from Poznan (Agence Europe 2008k: 7). Among them were the issues of wealthy EU members’ aid for poorer states as well as the level of auctioning of permits under the reformed ETS. To overcome these problems, a financial solidarity clause was adopted and concessions made inter alia to Poland (Agence Europe 2008m: 4–6).24 The agreement was endorsed by the European Council on 12 December, the official last day of the Poznan summit, and sent to the European Parliament for final approval.25 Although this meant a major step forward in the Union’s preparation ← 185 | 186 →for the 2009 negotiations, the parallelism of talks had repercussions for its credibility in the global arena: the fact that it negotiated internal positions while UN talks were conducted produced misunderstanding among negotiation partners, notably from the developing countries (Interviews non-EU representative 18, EU representative 29). While Environment Commissioner Dimas used all press conferences to explain that the EU’s internal negotiations would by no means jeopardize the magnitude of the Union’s overall reduction target of 20% by 2020, the impression left by its internal rifts was quite the opposite (EU Press Conference 11 Dec. 2008; ENB 2008l: 17). An interesting influence attempt – the Commission’s announcement, scheduled strategically for the final days of the COP, to invest € 22 million into clean and renewable energy projects in developing countries in Africa and Asia – could not offset that negative impression (Agence Europe 2008l: 9).

Shortly after Poznan, and foreshadowing events of 2009, the Australian government would be the first major Umbrella Group member to announce a mid-term target for the post-2012 talks. It pledged unilaterally reductions of 5% of 2000 levels by 2020 and a possibility to move to a 15% reduction in case of comparable efforts by other industrialized countries (Australian Government 2008: xxi). Emissions trading was to become the centrepiece of its climate policy (BBC 2008). With this proposal, the Australians would copy the EU’s approach,26 without, however, following its level of ambition (Australian Government 2008).

For the first half of 2009, parties had promised to shift into “full negotiating mode”, but no industrialized party other than the EU and Australia was practically prepared to do so. Neither the Union’s negotiation position nor its strategy were however fully worked out. Since Bali, the G-77/China had explicitly linked debates on developing country mitigation to the financing made available by industrialized countries for mitigation and adaptation actions in the developing world, but all Annex I countries still lacked a position on this crucial issue. To allow the EU to attempt to influence the global debates on this item, the European Commission started the year with another communication in late January, entitled “Towards a comprehensive climate change agreement in Copenhagen”. The document comprised concrete suggestions on “innovative international funding sources” (industrialized country contributions on the basis of an “agreed formula” or funds generated through the flexible mechanisms, notably emissions trading) (European Commission ← 186 | 187 →2009i: 9–10). It also contained a section on “funding early action” as “a bridging initiative in the transition period between 2010 and the full scale implementation of the new financial architecture to be agreed in Copenhagen” (European Commission 2009i: 10). What the communication did not contain was a specification of the European contribution to the outlined financial efforts. The Environment (2 March) and ECOFiN (10 March) Councils as well as the European Council of 19–20 March would, by and large, endorse the proposals and declare that the EU was prepared to assume its “fair share” of any future collective public funding effort (European Council 2009a: point 27).

Bilateral talks involving the EU resumed immediately in early 2009. On 16 January, a Ministerial EU Troika met with its counterparts in the framework of the EU-South Africa Strategic Partnership in Kleinmond to discuss inter alia climate change issues (Council 2009a). Two weeks later, the European Commission met with the Chinese leadership around Premier Wen Jiabao in Brussels in order to consult on the global financial crisis and climate change. After the meeting, Commission President Barroso “expressed confidence that there would be cooperation between the Union and China via ‘constructive dialogue’ with a view to the Copenhagen” COP (Agence Europe 2009a). Moreover, the Union’s contacts with the US would be stepped up considerably after the presidential transition in January 2009, which had sparked many a hope for greater US engagement in global climate talks.27 Before the EU would get to meet with the US, the new US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would, however, visit both China and India, urging those countries not to “make the same mistakes we have” and instead grow on a low-carbon path (Landler 2009). The symbolic gesture of visiting the major emerging countries first set the tone for the rest of the year, as especially Sino-US exchanges were attaining central importance in the climate talks. It was not until early March that an EU delegation, including ministers from the UK, Denmark (COP host 2009), Poland (COP host 2008) and the Council Presidency Czech Republic, had the opportunity to meet with members of Congress and the US administration in Washington, DC, inter alia testifying on the European experience with climate change legislation (Santini 2009; Interview EU representative 26). A high-level EU-US summit, attended by President Obama, would then be held on 5 April in Prague. Its conclusions on climate change were quite general: “Together, the EU and the US will be in a stronger position to get on board key (…) emerging ← 187 | 188 → countries and achieve an ambitious outcome at (…) Copenhagen” (Council 2009c).

These and other exchanges prepared the stage for the next round of UN climate negotiations: between 29 March and 8 April 2009, parties came together in Bonn for AWG-LCA 5 and AWG-KP 7. The beginning of the talks was marked by a US declaration to fully re-engage in the multilateral arena, but only after a listening phase during which it would gradually refine its own position (Stern 2009a). Key contours of that position were, however, already visible. While the style with which the Obama administration approached developing countries had changed in comparison to its predecessor, the substantive claims had not: crucial for the US was a meaningful participation of major developing countries in global mitigation efforts. Moreover, as Jonathan Pershing, head of the US delegation, made perfectly clear, “it is not the point in time in 2020 that matters – it is a long-term trajectory against which the science measures cumulative emissions” (AFP 2009b). The US preference for the long term obviously conflicted with the EU’s medium-term focus, a problem that, according to US Climate Envoy Stern, could be solved: “If [we] reduce relatively less between now and 2020, that will leave relatively more to do 2020–2050 (…) Our pathway accords with practical economics and political reality in a way that does not harm the environment” (Harvey 2009). Besides this pragmatic US re-engagement, the talks did not deliver much in the way of new proposals.

The AWG-LCA considered a “focus document”, which represented an attempt at identifying areas of convergence in parties’ proposals (UNFCCC 2009b). Without attributing the various propositions to particular parties anymore, it aptly reflected the state of the negotiations eight months before Copenhagen, and was considered by the Chair as a necessary transitional stage to narrow down options from party proposals before elaborating the negotiating text by June (Zammit Cutajar 2009: 5). On the subjects of interest in this analysis, it contained statements such as the following: “some Parties have proposed that developed countries as a group commit to emission reductions by 2020 in the (…) range indicated by the IPCC”, i.e. 25–40% from 1990 levels; “another related proposal is that the overall deviation from a baseline for developing countries as a group by 2020 be quantified at 15–30 per cent” (UNFCCC 2009b: point 16). This specific example demonstrated that the EU’s key positions were reflected in the text, an observation that could also be made of Zammit Cutajar’s overall structural choice to focus the process on debates about medium and long-term targets. At the same time, the text provided, above all, a testimony of existing disagreements. In the opening plenary of the group, the document was criticized by the G-77/China for overemphasizing mitigation and neglecting elements such as finance and technology ← 188 | 189 →(ENB 2009a: 1). With this, Zammit Cutajar’s (and the EU’s) approach was effectively discarded: the G-77 had clarified the bloc’s interest in a broader, party-driven compilation exercise. Discussions held in the various contact groups throughout the week would confirm this observation. Debates on mitigation, moreover, testified to continued differences: the EU re-iterated its 30% aim for developed countries, AOSIS called for stabilization at 350 ppm and 1.5°C, India for developed country mitigation of 40% by 2020 (from 1990 levels), and the US detailed its long-term perspective, which entailed a mid-term goal of stabilizing emissions at 1990 levels by 2020 (ENB 2009d: 1). It further noted that “if only the EU and the US were to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050, such actions would still result in 630 ppm” (ENB 2009d: 1). This move was obviously aimed at shifting the focus of attention to the question of developing country mitigation: in a debate on the meaning of developing country NAMAs, the EU recalled its 15–30% deviation from business-as-usual proposition, while the G-77/China stated that its mitigation actions would be dependent on the support offered by industrialized countries. India and China further stressed that NAMAs were “voluntary” actions that should be considered in the context of development goals and “poverty eradication” (ENB 2009d: 1–2). Not surprisingly, no movement of key players’ positions occurred during the remainder of the conference. Additional sessions were therefore agreed to for August and November. Besides this procedural outcome, parties were looking forward to the Chair’s negotiating text, to be issued in June.

The AWG-KP equally continued its work towards a negotiating text for June 2009, focusing on discussions of the aggregate scale of emissions reductions by Annex I parties. To that end, a new contact group on “Annex I parties’ further emission reduction commitments” (informally called “numbers group”) was added to the existing ones (potential consequences, legal matters, flexibility mechanisms, LULUCF) (ENB 2009b: 2). Substantial debate in this group opposed Annex I and developing country parties. The EU called for a combined bottom up and top down approach: country pledges for determining the aggregate scale of emissions reductions (the preferred approach of industrialized countries) could be compared to the scientific demands (25–40% under the IPCC 2°C scenario, i.e. the preferred developing country approach) (ENB 2009c: 2). Other parties and coalitions made concrete proposals on emission reduction ranges for Annex I countries: AOSIS re-iterated calls for stabilizing GHG concentrations below 350 ppm, requiring reductions of at least 45% and 95% of 1990 levels by 2020 and 2050 respectively, whereas Australia (5 or 15% by 2020 from 2000 levels) and the EU presented their proposals, and Japan declared that it would announce a mid-term target in June (ENB 2009b: 1–2). Besides a growing range of propositions that often ← 189 | 190 →referred to different base years, rendering comparability difficult, the meeting did not result in specific outcomes. Parties therefore requested two documents for the next meeting: a proposal for amendments to the Kyoto Protocol, including suggestions on emission reduction targets, and a text on “other issues” (UNFCCC 2009d: point 74). There would also be the chance to submit Protocol amendments by 17 June, i.e. up to six months before the end of COP 15 (ENB 2009e: 2).

After “Bonn-1” (two more meetings in the former West German capital would follow), the EU pursued its engagement in bi- and small-scale multilateral exchanges. In April and May 2009, the Troika met, among others, with the African Union (Brussels, 28 April), Japan (Prague, 4 May), the Rio Group (Prague, 13 May), China (Prague, 20 May), Russia (21–22 May, Khabarovsk) and South Korea (23 May, Seoul) (Council 2009e, g, h, i, j; European Commission 2009j). The meetings consisted mainly of exchanges of positions on the global climate negotiations. In the climate negotiations beyond the UN, several meetings need to be highlighted. In their communiqué issued after the London G-20 summit on global recovery of 2 April, key world leaders found it necessary to “reaffirm [their] commitment to address the threat of irreversible climate change (…) and to reach agreement at (…) Copenhagen” (G-20 2009a: point 28). A few days later, the major emitters would follow a US invitation to meet in Washington for a “Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate Change”.28 Attended by representatives from seventeen countries (including the EU Troika, Germany, France, the UK and Italy), COP 15 host Denmark and the UN, the Forum discussed its members’ possible contributions to the negotiations under UN auspices in general (MEF 2009a). A second meeting was organized in Paris on 25–26 May, and focused much more specifically on key issues of the UN talks, including the notion of peak year, mid- and long-term mitigation targets for different countries and finance, notably the question of raising up to USD 100 billion per year for mitigation and adaptation actions, but without concrete results (MEF 2009b; Charlton 2009). Further in the global arena, activities in the US Congress – where climate bills had first been introduced as a “discussion draft” in late March and debated in April and May in the House of Representatives (US House 2009)29 – provoked reactions in both China and India. While only timidly indicating areas of compromise, China maintained its official demand for developed countries to collectively reduce their emissions by 40% of 1990 levels until ← 190 | 191 →2020 (Buckley 2009a). This proposal was rebuffed by the US Climate Envoy Stern: “We are jumping as high as the political system will tolerate”, but 40% “is unrealistic” (Hood 2009). India, while remaining firm – with its Climate Envoy stating that “what the US has offered is too little” – recalled what it sought: “our stand is not that we don’t want to take on obligations. It is that any deviation from our position of not taking mandatory commitments for targeted reductions should be supported by financial commitments and technological aid” (Menon 2009). That an agreement between the US and the major emitters was to become crucial for a global deal became apparent when both a Congressional delegation and high-level US officials visited Beijing for several days of Sino-US bilateral consultations in parallel to the UN talks of June (Bodeen 2009; AFP 2009a). Reinforced Indo-American exchanges had to await late July, when Secretary of State Clinton visited New Delhi to prepare a new strategic dialogue around climate change (Lakshmanan 2009).

Between 2 and 13 June 2009, parties came to Bonn again for a subsidiary bodies meeting as well as AWG-LCA 6 and AWG-KP 8. Shortly before the session, many of them had submitted their visions of a future “agreed outcome” under the Convention as well as proposals for amendments to the Protocol. Further, the chairs of the two working groups had issued a first draft negotiating text (LCA) and new documents requested by parties (KP) (UNFCCC 2009f, g). The most significant party submission for the purpose of this analysis was the much-awaited US proposal, entitled “Copenhagen Decision Adopting the Implementing Agreement” under the Convention. On the key subjects of interest, the proposal foresaw “quantitative emissions reductions/removals in the 2020/[ ] timeframe, in conformity with domestic law” and “a low-carbon strategy for long-term net emissions reductions of at least [ ] by 2050” for developed countries (US 2009: 4). Regarding mitigation actions by non-Annex I parties, it differentiated between emerging economies and least developed countries. The former should undertake NAMAs “in the 2020/[ ] timeframe that are quantified (e.g., reduction from business-as-usual) and are consistent with the levels of ambition needed to contribute to meeting the objective of the Convention”; further, they “shall formulate and submit a low-carbon strategy for long-term net emissions reductions by 2050” (US 2009: 4). LDCs should implement NAMAs and “develop low-carbon strategies, consistent with their capacity” (US 2009: 4). On the other crucial interlinked issues of finance and MRV, the proposal remained very general, noting simply the need for “a dramatic increase in the flow of resources (…) from a wide variety of sources” (US 2009: Section 4). finally, the notion of “implementing agreement” left the legal status of the “agreed outcome” open: it could be binding, but would not necessarily have to be – in any case, the Obama administration intended to have an international outcome ← 191 | 192 →of this type ratified by the Senate (Interview Observer 4). The US overarching approach was patently clear, however: rather than reproducing a Kyoto-type protocol, it essentially argued for a looser “pledge and review” approach focusing on the long term.

Other comprehensive protocol proposals under Article 17 UNFCCC were submitted by Australia, Costa Rica, Japan and Tuvalu. Australia’s proposal called for a “single new instrument under the Convention”, whose key feature would be “National Schedules” for emission reduction efforts by all parties (UNFCCC 2009i: 3–15). Japan’s “draft protocol” had many features of the Kyoto Protocol, which it was to either replace or substantially amend. It distinguished between quantified emission reduction targets by Annex I countries and NAMAs in the form of intensity targets for all other countries, to be pledged into annexes (UNFCCC 2009e; ENB 2009i: 4). Tuvalu submitted a proposal for a new Kyoto-style “Copenhagen Protocol” to complement, not replace the Kyoto Protocol (UNFCCC 2009h: 9–22). Among many other submissions focusing on particular elements of the Bali Roadmap or amendments to the Kyoto Protocol, the EU’s contribution under the LCA included the by then well-known positions on key issues, but contained also an urgent call for bringing the two negotiation tracks closer together: “in our deliberations in Bonn in April, it became obvious that a strict separation is not feasible” (Council 2009f: 1).

Deliberations under the LCA track focused then entirely on a first (and, on technology and adaptation, also second) reading of the Chair’s negotiating text. On the issues of interest here (emission reduction aims, differentiation), the 53-page document stated:

The long-term global goal for emission reductions {shall}{should} be set – Option 1 – as a stabilization of GHG concentrations in the atmosphere at {400}{450 or lower}{not more than 450}{450} ppm (…) and a temperature increase limited to 2°C above the pre-industrial level. For this purpose, the Parties {shall}{should} collectively reduce global emissions by at least 50 per cent {from 1990} levels by 2050. – Option 2 – as a stabilization of GHG concentrations in the atmosphere well below 350 ppm (…) and a temperature increase limited to below 1.5°C (…) Parties {shall}{should} collectively reduce global emissions by {81.71}{more than 85} per cent from 1990 levels by 2050 (UNFCCC 2009g: para. 12).

Similarly, all coalitions’ positions were also reflected through options and/or brackets when it came to the question of differentiation, rendering a hardly legible ensemble (UNFCCC 2009g: para. 14, 15). Other paragraphs dealt at length with the different natures of targets for developed and developing countries. MRV was identified as requiring more elaboration, and differences persisted on finance about the sources of funding ← 192 | 193 →(public, private) and how to raise public resources, with eight different options mentioned in the text (UNFCCC 2009g: para. 67, 173). Despite the many brackets contained in the document, further consultations testified to parties’ anxious – and successful – attempts at having specific formulations reflected in the text. The main consequence of transforming the Chair’s proposal into a party-driven document was that it almost quadrupled in length. The final product, an over 200-page compilation of positions, would be issued as a revised version of the negotiating text forming the basis for further talks (UNFCCC 2009j). In this context, it is interesting to note that parties held informal consultations on the form of the outcome, evoking also manifold options (e.g. one or several COP decisions, protocol, single “legally binding instrument”), but taking no conclusions (ENB 2009g: 3, 2009h: 3).

Under the AWG-KP, parties continued considering further Annex I commitments, concentrating on various proposals for aggregate and individual emission reduction targets. The textual basis prepared by the Chair included mainly amendment proposals to Annex B of the Kyoto Protocol (UNFCCC 2009f). Most of these took the form of empty table shells with columns entitled, e.g. “quantified emission reductions (2013–2016)” and emissions reductions formulated in percentages against a base year, although some parties had proposed other values (e.g. per capita emissions) and/or varying base years (UNFCCC 2009f: 8–9). Interestingly, a limited number of concrete quantified emission reduction proposals for each Annex I party were also submitted by non-Annex I parties (such as South Africa and the Philippines) (UNFCCC 2009f: 12–13). The manifold options differed, however, with regard to almost all parameters (base year, length of commitment periods, criteria for calculating emissions etc.). Fundamentally, the main cleavage separating developed and developing countries still concerned the approach to setting emission reduction targets: whether bottom up or top down (Observation notes 11 June 2009). The EU’s proposal of combining bottom up pledges with a top down approach that used IPCC science as a benchmark marked the middle ground. In the deliberations of the contact group on numbers, major developing countries wanted to focus, as China expressed it, on “numbers and not on text” (ENB 2009f: 4). Industrialized countries, including a very active EU, argued, by contrast, for first clarifying accounting rules (use of flexible mechanisms, LULUCF rules) to make pledges by Annex I countries comparable (ENB 2009f: 4; Observation notes 8–12 June 2009). They also repeatedly argued that pledges could not be raised as long as discussions under the AWG-KP and the AWG-LCA were kept apart. Any aggregate calculation of reductions that did not include the US would be incomplete (ENB 2009f: 4). Nonetheless, AOSIS, supported by the EU, requested that the Secretariat present a preliminary aggregation of Annex ← 193 | 194 →I emission reduction pledges (ENB 2009g: 3). The result of this exercise was discussed during the second week of the meeting amidst a replay of the Kyoto debates about the length of commitment periods (with options ranging from four years to eight years, or twice four years) and base years (1990, 2000, 2005, 2006) (ENB 2009j: 2–3). Parties could not narrow down options within the contact group (ENB 2009k: 12–13; Observation notes 8–12 June 2009). For the AWG-KP on the whole, continued differences meant that the Chair was not given the mandate to prepare a negotiating text for the next session (ENB 2009k: 14). Talks would therefore have to be pursued, until MOP 5, on the basis of papers prepared by the Secretariat and party submissions.

In parallel to ongoing talks under both AWGs, two major parties would publicly discuss their positions during the session in Brussels. EU finance ministers debated elements of the Union’s stance, repeating previous positions on the sources of climate finance (private, public, from all countries except the LDCs), without specifying the Union’s “fair share” (Council 2009k: 4). On 10 June, Japan announced its long-awaited mid-term target. Following months of internal debates, the country opted for a 15% reduction from 2005 levels by 2020, which amounted to a (compared to IPCC scenarios) modest 8% reduction from 1990 levels and was met with criticism from developing countries.

Over the summer of 2009, bilateral and multilateral exchanges outside the UN framework resumed. The EU met, for instance, with Asian partners at ministerial level on energy security (17–18 June, Brussels, ASEM 2009) and exchanged informally with the US. Reacting to cap-and-trade bill debates in the US House of Representatives, the Union estimated that the US targets (of roughly 4% below 1990 levels) were relatively weak, and indicated that a possible compromise was for the US to provide comparatively more funding to developing countries (Stearns/Morales 2009). Multilateral meetings were organised inter alia under the so-called “Greenland Dialogue on Climate Change”, an informal forum initiated by the Danish government as early as 2005 to feed into the UN talks on their way to COP 15 (MCE 2009a). The fifth gathering of this body (30 June–3 July, Greenland) brought together high-level representatives from 30 countries (including several EU members and the Commission) across all UN coalitions. Their conclusions listed some essential conditions for a future agreement, including that “Global warming must stay below 2°C” and “no money, no deal” (MCE 2009b). Further, a third and a fourth meeting of the Major Economies Forum took place in Mexico (22–23 June) and, at leaders’ level, in L’Aquila, Italy (MEF 2009c; G-8 2009a). The latter meeting was embedded into a series of high-level exchanges, which would mark a high point of the 2009 extra-UN global climate talks. Between 8 and 10 July, G-8, G-8+5 and the ← 194 | 195 →MEF were successively organized by the Italian G-8 Presidency, producing several declarations on climate change. The detailed conclusions of the G-8 stated, on the topics of interest here: “we recognise the broad scientific view that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed 2°C” and “reiterate our willingness to share with all countries the goal of achieving at least a 50% reduction of global emissions by 2050 (…) we also support a goal of developed countries reducing emissions (…) in aggregate by 80% or more by 2050 compared to 1990 or more recent years (…) we will undertake robust aggregate and individual mid-term reductions, taking into account that baselines may vary and that efforts need to be comparable” (G-8 2009b: point 65, emphasis added). Going beyond the 2007 Heiligendamm declaration, the language adopted by leaders would recur in the further course of the UN negotiations. It reflected a broad consensus between these major parties, while indicating some specific Umbrella Group demands with regard to mid-term targets (e.g. for different base years). The G-8+5 and MEF did not yield the same type of consensus declaration, reflecting earlier differences between the two groups of countries. The MEF did retain the 2°C declarative aim with the same phrasing and “resolve[d] to spare no effort to reach agreement in Copenhagen”, but its declaration did not mention concrete targets and timetables (MEF 2009d: 1–2). EU reactions to the outcome of the meetings were therefore cautious: noting that key countries had now officially endorsed the Union’s long-standing 2°C target (in a more compelling frame than the Greenland Dialogue), it also lamented the absence of commitment to concrete mid- and long-term targets, which in essence meant the rejection of central elements of the EU’s post-2012 position (Agence Europe 2009b, c).

Between 10 and 14 August, the two UN negotiation fora came together for a fairly technical “Bonn-3” informal session without major debates on key issues (ENB 2009l). Under the LCA track, the second reading of the revised negotiating text was completed (UNFCCC 2009j; ENB 2009l: 7–14). Deliberations were now held in small groups, and based on newly formulated non-papers. They did not result in specific textual compromises on key issues. To “facilitate” future negotiations, the Chair promised to issue an information document as a guide to the revised negotiating text, allegedly still containing 2,000 brackets (ENB 2009l: 33)! Under the AWG-KP, debates on Annex I parties emission reductions continued, but did not reach any (even intermediate) conclusions either. The seven meetings of the “numbers group” were spent primarily with a consideration of “possible targets submitted by countries”, with Annex I parties explaining the rationale behind their proposals (ENB 2009l: 14). The outcome of this work signified no substantial advances, but a reformulation of positions in the form of a non-paper that would supplement ← 195 | 196 →the documentation the AWG-KP Chair promised to prepare in advance of the next session (UNFCCC 2009k; ENB 2009l: 34). Altogether, the additional negotiation session of “Bonn-3” had thus delivered little added value, leaving problems unresolved and reinforcing cleavages from previous sessions (ENB 2009l: 34). In failing to deliver on its mandate of fixing an aggregate emissions reduction target for Annex I parties under the Kyoto Protocol, the AWG-KP was considerably delayed (UNFCCC Press Conference 14 Aug. 2009).

During the final months before the Copenhagen summit, parties would gradually disclose their positions on key elements of the Bali Roadmap. At the same time, the Danish Presidency would reinforce its efforts to forge a minimum agreement with key countries behind the scenes (Meilstrup 2010). For the EU, this would also be the moment to elaborate on its finance proposals, the key missing cornerstone in its position. Multi- and bilateral exchanges involving the EU were pursued right after Bonn-3. The Union would take repeated rounds of Sino-American exchanges as a starting shot to “kick-start talks at political level”, beginning with another visit of the Troika to Washington (23–25 August, Agence Europe 2009d: 4). In an attempt to put greater pressure on the US and major emerging countries, it consistently communicated that it expected “greater ambition” from these players (Reuters 2009a; Brand 2009). At the same time, opportunities opened for the EU to build a stronger coalition with another industrialized country: Japan. Following a general election which had ended a 54-year reign of the (liberal-conservative) Liberal Democrats, the (social-liberal) Democratic Party promised to reduce the country’s GHG emissions by 25% from 1990 levels by 2020, reversing less ambitious proposals of its predecessors (Spiegel 2009a; Tabuchi 2009). It later became clear, however, that the pledge was conditional upon comparable commitments by other Annex I parties (Eilperin/Lynch 2009).

Back within the EU, the European Commission introduced a new proposal on international climate finance in early September. Unlike its January communication, this version, entitled “Stepping up international climate finance: A European blueprint for the Copenhagen Deal”, contained quantified proposals. Referring to debates about the magnitude of required financing, held notably in the MEF, it estimated that “finance requirements for adaptation and mitigation actions in developing countries could reach roughly € 100 billion per year by 2020” (as opposed to the 100bn USD discussed by the MEF); further, “domestic private and public finance could deliver between 20–40%, the carbon market up to around 40%, and international public finance could contribute to cover the remainder” (European Commission 2009k: 3). From 2013, the Union’s contribution to this “remainder” “in the range of € 22 and 50 billion (…) would be from around 10% to around 30% depending on the ← 196 | 197 →weight given” to two criteria (ability to pay, responsibility for emissions) (European Commission 2009k: 3). “In case of an ambitious outcome in Copenhagen, the EU’s fair contribution could therefore be between € 2 to 15 billion per year in 2020” (European Commission 2009k: 3). Moreover, the Commission proposed that “between 2010–2012, in the event of a successful agreement in Copenhagen, fast-start financing is likely to be needed (…) in developing countries in the range of € 5 to 7 billion per year” and “the EU should consider an immediate contribution of € 0.5 to 2.1 billion per year” (European Commission 2009k: 3). With these proposals, the Commission provided the ground for member states to decide on concrete numbers (Agence Europe 2009e: 12). Although the 27 initially reacted positively, debates on the precise amount of money were resolved only months later. However, two other strategic debates within the EU were receiving public attention at that time. Disunity reigned over if and when the Union should move to the 30% emissions reduction scenario (Ricard 2009). Officially for strategic reasons, but also because no agreement could be forged, the decision was held back for the expected hot phase of the global negotiations (Ricard 2009). finally, EU members were divided over the (essentially French) proposal to introduce border adjustment taxes for goods coming from countries that had no ambitious climate legislation in place, in the event that COP 15 should fail (Spillmann 2009).

These internal rifts came at a time when an unprecedented amount of multilateral meetings lay ahead of the major parties. The month of September began with a G-20 summit of finance ministers, an opportunity parties wanted to use to discuss climate finance proposals. Emerging economies, anxious to keep finance discussions within the UN framework, resisted (Bergin 2009). It was set forth on 17 and 18 September with another meeting of the Major Economies Forum in Washington, DC, which debated notably adaptation and the (for the US central) question of MRV (MEF 2009e). On 22–23 September, parties then followed the UN Secretary General’s invitation to meet in New York. Ten weeks before the Copenhagen summit, the UN headquarters provided an arena for stock-taking of parties’ positions. Three leaders received specific attention: US President Obama, for his strong rhetoric in favour of ambitious climate action, the new Japanese Prime Minister for his government’s improved emission reduction target proposal, and the Chinese President Hu Jintao for promising that China would reduce the “amount of carbon dioxide it emits to produce each dollar of gross domestic product” by a “notable margin” by 2020 from 2005 levels, increase its forest cover by 40 million hectares, and engage in fuel switches (BBC 2009a; UN 2009; Jintao 2009: 7). To conclude the month, a G-20 leaders’ summit in Pittsburgh discussed climate change and energy security issues, adopting, ← 197 | 198 →however, only general conclusions on key issues, including finance (24–25 September, G-20 2009b).

Against this backdrop of – according to UNFCCC Secretary General de Boer – general, but “sincere commitment of leaders” to the UN process (UNFCCC Press Conference 28 Sept. 2009), parties met in Bangkok to accelerate negotiations in the UN climate regime (28 September–9 October). AWG-LCA 7, part 1 continued to consolidate the revised negotiating text on the basis of documents prepared by the AWG Chair and the chairs of the various contact groups, altogether amounting to about 800 pages of text (UNFCCC 2009j; ENB 2009m: 4). In its opening statement, the Swedish EU Presidency called the text “unmanageable” and urged to finally bring the two AWGs together because “what we need from Copenhagen is one single agreement” (Video 28 Sept. 2009, AWG-LCA Opening Plenary). Repeating a formula the Union had already used in the AWG-KP plenary just hours before, this emphasis on “one single agreement” would cause a considerable uproar among the developing countries in both working groups (ENB 2009m: 2). Although it reflected a position the EU had defended for years,30 this preference for one outcome had never been so clearly expressed, which had led the G-77/China to believe that the Union was in favour of a two-fold outcome (a new agreement under the LCA track, plus a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol). Many developing countries therefore voiced honest concerns that the EU – after all the strongest supporter of the treaty during the period 1998–2005 – now wanted “to kill the Kyoto Protocol” (Reuters 2009b).31 When talks resumed in the relevant contact groups under the AWG-LCA, conflicts on key issues re-emerged: from the first day on, developed and developing countries clashed on the question of the nature of mitigation actions and their verification (ENB 2009m: 4). The US and the Umbrella Group proposed a common framework for reporting and verifying developed and developing countries’ mitigation actions, an idea that was opposed by the G-77/China as going against the principles of the Convention (ENB 2009p: 19). While the EU sided with the Umbrella Group on this and many other issues, it also called for an aggregation of existing Annex I country target pledges so as to put pressure on those with either lower or no official proposals (such as the US) (ENB 2009n: 4). In this conflict-ridden context, industrialized countries asked during the mid-way stock-taking meeting that the Chair should take ← 198 | 199 →responsibility for reducing the scope of the negotiating text. This proposal was – successfully – opposed by the G-77/China, mindful of the “party-driven” nature of the negotiation process (ENB 2009n: 4). While technical advances were reported on certain building blocks (adaptation, technology), progress on key issues (shared vision, mitigation, finance) was thus very limited (ENB 2009p: 1). Existing documentation, including the non-papers that emerged from the contact groups, was forwarded to the final meeting before COP 15 (ENB 2009p: 3–13).

During AWG-KP 9, part 1, parties resumed consultations in the contact groups. As in the AWG-LCA, the EU’s call for a “single legal instrument” would spark reactions in the “numbers group” in the afternoon of the first day. On Tuvalu’s demand, the EU clarified that a single legal instrument would necessarily preserve key elements of the Protocol, but that it could be more easily ratified than two parallel outcomes (ENB 2009m: 2). Heated discussions followed on the legal form of the “agreed outcome”, during which the EU received support from Japan (ENB 2009m: 2). In the further meetings of the group, emission reduction scales, but also the questions of base year and accounting rules were addressed (ENB 2009p: 14–15). The Union, at times supported by other industrialized countries, was again quite vocal in its argument that it was “not possible for Annex I countries to set targets without first knowing the rules” of accounting, a claim opposed by the G-77/China (ENB 2009o: 3). In her mid-term report to the plenary, co-Chair Wollansky thus had to observe that the numbers group was “facing problems with regard to how to proceed with its work” (Video 2 October 2009, AWG-KP Plenary). Despite numerous proposals and extensive discussions, the problematic situation would, however, remain unresolved. Developing countries wanted to ensure robust targets by the Annex I parties under a second commitment period (and financial aid under the AWG-LCA) before making commitments under the LCA track. Annex I parties to the Protocol wanted to know the rules of the game and the pledges of the US and emerging countries before committing any further. In this intricate context, the parties did what they usually did when they knew no way out: they asked the Chair to prepare yet further documentation.

Following the Bangkok talks, major parties began to openly recognize that the Copenhagen COP would only mark a step in a longer process toward a legally binding agreement. While the US had subtly dampened expectations beforehand, Chinese negotiators were quoted in late October as saying: “The real negotiations will be after Copenhagen [which] will be a starting, not an ending point”, and even UNFCCC Secretary General de Boer spoke of COP 15 as simply laying the “groundwork” for further talks (Buckley 2009b). The question at this stage of the process seemed therefore how significant an intermediate advance it would represent. At ← 199 | 200 →the same time, key parties were beginning to solidify their ties with coalition partners. The BASIC countries increased their level of coordination, with especially China and India agreeing on practical cooperation on energy technologies, while also pledging to further coordinate their in many respects identical negotiation positions (Murray 2009). While attempting to preserve common interests, India in particular indicated, for the first time, flexibility under its new Environment Minister Ramesh, in office since late May 2009. Partially abandoning anti-Western rhetoric, he stated that India might be prepared to fulfil detailed reporting duties of its future NAMAs so as not to be a “deal-breaker” in Copenhagen (Goldenberg/Watts 2009).

Bi- and multilateral talks involving the EU equally resumed. A Major Economies Forum focusing on finance was held in London (17–18 October), but did not achieve any breakthrough in terms of quantified proposals (MEF 2009f). On 6–7 November, G-20 finance ministers equally came together in the UK to discuss climate finance proposals, but met with the resistance of emerging countries (G-20 2009c: 2). Bilaterally, the EU met with two major partners. During a summit on 3 November in Washington, the transatlantic consultations led to a new commitment to defending the 50% emission reductions aim by 2050 at COP 15 and the creation of a Joint Energy Council (European Commission 2009l: 1). At the same time, the US President reportedly informed the EU that, if it was for the US, COP 15 would not produce a legally binding outcome (Phillips 2009c). On 6 November, the EU-India summit in New Delhi expressed its hope that a “global goal of significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 compared to 1990 levels would be reached at Copenhagen” (European Commission 2009m: 2).

Within the EU, pressure had been mounting in the meantime: disappointed by the Bangkok meeting, and still facing criticism about its stance on the Kyoto Protocol, the Union sought to update its negotiation position so as to give new impetus to the global talks (Agence Europe 2009f: 8). A meeting of the finance Ministers on 20 October brought, however, no breakthroughs on the issue of quantifying the EU’s finance proposals, and the Environment Council of 21 October then effectively shifted the decision to the heads of state and government (Council 2009i, m).32 On 29–30 October, the European Council reiterated key elements of the Union’s negotiation position for Copenhagen, but its conclusions contained hardly any updates, except an endorsement of the Commission’s ← 200 | 201 →September finance proposals that international finance “could amount to around EUR 100 billion annually by 2020”, and that public financing was “estimated to lie in the range of EUR 22 to 50 billion per year by 2020, subject to a fair burden sharing at the global level” (European Council 2009b: points 12–14). Regarding fast-start finance for 2010–2012, “a figure will be determined in the light of the outcome of” COP 15 (European Council 2009b: point 17). Other than that, crucial decisions were shifted to an extraordinary European Council, to take place in Brussels during the first week of the Copenhagen summit. An element of the mandate worth mentioning was the continued EU attachment to a “legally binding agreement” for the period starting in 2013 (Council 2009m: point 59, emphasis added).

As parties were gathering for a last preparatory UN session in Barcelona (2–6 November), the hope for a legally binding outcome at COP 15 was further dampened by US Special Envoy Stern, for whom it did not “look like it’s on the cards for December (…) We should make progress towards a political agreement” incorporating key elements of the Bali Roadmap (Goldenberg/Vidal 2009, emphasis added). AWG-LCA 7, part 2 began with the Chair expressing hope that a single document could be prepared for Copenhagen (ENB 2009q: 1). This hope would be disappointed. Talks in the contact groups arguably advanced the consolidation of text on some issues (technology, adaptation) (ENBs: 8–15). On crunch items of the body’s agenda (mitigation, finance), it would remain unchanged, though, just like it had ever since the first reading at Bonn-2 (ENB 2009s: 15). Parties decided therefore to forward the revised negotiating texts and the contact groups’ non-papers as attachments to the Chair’s report to COP 15 (UNFCCC 2009j; UNFCCC 2009l). AWG-KP 9.2 moved debates quickly into contact groups to work on updated documentation. In the afternoon of the opening day, however, all deliberations were already suspended. Attempting to exert pressure on Annex I parties, the African Group threatened to boycott talks as long as the “numbers group” had not concluded its work, i.e. industrialized countries had not increased their emission reduction target pledges (ENB 2009q: 4). Just before this decision, the contact group had actually discussed a new compilation of Annex I parties’ pledges, which amounted to only 16–23% reductions from 1990 levels until 2020, well short of the 25–40% range expressed in the IPCC’s 2°C scenario (Observation notes 2 Nov. 2009). A compromise that would allow negotiations to resume was found late the next day: 60% of all time slots would be allocated to the numbers group (ENB 2009r: 1). Yet, availability of time did not seem to be the key obstacle. Quite obviously, it was not at the negotiators’ (i.e. below the ministerial) level that Annex I Kyoto Protocol parties would move to increase their emission reductions targets, and certainly not in the face of ← 201 | 202 →uncertainty about US and major developing countries’ efforts under the LCA track. The remaining talks touched thus on elements of a second commitment period of the Protocol (base year, commitment periods, etc.) without narrowing any options. Even the slight advance of identifying two instead of multiple alternatives on the commitment period (i.e. one eight-year period, supported by the EU, Japan, Russia vs. one five-year period, supported by the G-77 and Australia) was linked to so many conditions that it would not gain any significance in Copenhagen (Observation notes 5 Nov. 2009). Differences were reflected in non-papers, which would form part of the broad documentation the AWG-KP Chair would update for MOP 5 (ENB 2009s: 3–8). At the end of this final opportunity to prepare for Copenhagen, parties had thus made choices without taking explicit decisions. Behind the scenes, the Danish COP Presidency33 and UNFCCC Secretary General de Boer were estimating – in the face of hardened positions – that only a continuation of the Kyoto Protocol and a political declaration on all building blocks of the Bali Action Plan, plus several annexes on developed country emission target and finance pledges and on developing country NAMAs, were feasible outcomes for COP 15/MOP 5 (Observation notes 6. Dec. 2009).

In the face of this lack of lack progress, the month between the Barcelona meeting and COP 15 would witness a further intensification of oftentimes simultaneous bilateral and multilateral contacts. Among the most significant exchanges were those involving the US (President) and various Asian countries, pursuing a trend started by the new US administration since early 2009. Obama began his Asia tour with a visit to Japan. On 14 November, he set the tone for subsequent meetings by referring to himself as “America’s first Pacific President” (White House 2009a). On 14–15 November, he met with leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC, including the US, China, Japan, Russia, Australia) in Singapore. Draft conclusions on climate change reflected a compromise between G-8 formulas and major developing countries’ concerns on the issue of long-term mitigation targets: “We believe that global emissions will need to peak over the next few years and be reduced to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, recognising that the time frame for peaking will be longer in developing countries” (Coloma 2009). On the insistence of the latter, notably China, they were however left out of the final declaration (Spiegel 2009b; APEC 2009). A meeting in the margin of the APEC summit, led by COP 15 host, Danish Prime Minister Lokke Rasmussen, ← 202 | 203 →discussed more concretely possible outcomes of the Copenhagen summit. Rasmussen introduced his “one agreement, two steps” approach for further talks (Meilstrup 2010: 125): a “politically binding” agreement in December 2009, including pledges for mitigation targets and measures by developed and developing countries as well as finance pledges, followed by a legally binding treaty in 2010 (Adam et al. 2009). This met with wide-spread agreement, as it accommodated both the US and the emerging economies’ interests (Eilperin 2009). In a press statement, a US representative was therefore also quick to publicly endorse the plan: “it was unrealistic to expect a full internationally legally binding agreement to be negotiated between now and when Copenhagen starts” (BBC 2009b). US President Obama had reportedly pleaded during the meeting not to let the “perfect be the enemy of the good”, a pragmatism that did not go down well with EU leaders (Adam et al. 2009). Although the anticipation that the outcome of COP 15 would not be legally binding had been an open secret since the Barcelona meeting, the Union had wanted to keep up the pressure by not discarding this possibility already weeks before COP 15 (Interviews EU representatives 22, 8).34 The US President’s visit continued with a meeting with the ten smaller Asian countries reunited in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), before culminating in a much-awaited US-China summit in Beijing (15–18 November). His exchange with Premier Wen Jiabao brought, however, no concrete advances on climate change. Their joint statement noted simply a “constructive dialogue”, and that an agreed outcome was to include emission reduction targets of developed countries and NAMAs of developing countries (White House 2009b). A week later, the Indian Prime Minister met with Obama in Washington to conclude a “green” strategic partnership, based on energy technology cooperation (Goldenberg 2009b). The agreement included no specific common positions on the UN talks (White House 2009c). In parallel to these meetings, ministers from over forty countries, including several EU members, gathered in Copenhagen for a pre-COP meeting (16–17 November). On this occasion, textual proposals that would later re-appear during COP 15 were discussed, but parties’ stances did not alter. At a last multilateral summit before the COP, the Commonwealth countries got together in Trinidad and Tobago (27–29 November). Leaders (representing all major UN coalitions) issued, together with the Danish COP Presidency, “The Commonwealth Climate Change Declaration”, in which they called an “internationally legally binding agreement essential” (point 7) and proposed “a Copenhagen Launch Fund starting in 2010 ← 203 | 204 →and building to a level of resources of $10 billion annually by 2012”, which strikingly resembled EU proposals on fast-start finance (CHOGM 2009: points 7, 13).

Final bilateral exchanges of the EU included a summit with Russia in Stockholm (18 November). President Medvedev surprised his interlocutors when indicating that he was prepared to reduce emissions by 20 to 25% by 2020 (from 1990 levels), an improvement compared to previous offers (of -15%) (Rettmann 2009). While officially wanting to align itself with the EU’s position, Russia would later clarify that the offer was not unconditional. On 30 November, the EU and China met in Nanjing, but only agreed to update their strategic “Partnership on Climate Change” (Council 2009n: point 10).

Following Russia’s example, other parties, including the EU, used the last weeks before the COP for preparations and public disclosure of their positions on key issues: Brazil offered to reduce its emission by 38 to 42%, South Korea by 30% by 2020 compared to business-as-usual (Phillips 2009a). Japan openly thought about its contribution to fast-track finance (UNFCCC Press Conference 19 Nov. 2009). These developments were greeted by the EU and linked to an appeal to the US and China to follow suit (Agence Europe 2009g: 6–7). In a final stock-taking meeting before Copenhagen on 23 November, the Environment Council further displayed optimism about the prospects of the COP and satisfaction about its own degree of preparedness (Agence Europe 2009g: 6–7). Shortly before Copenhagen, the largest emitters would finally also clarify their positions. On 25 November, the White House announced that “the President is prepared to put on the table a U.S. emissions reduction target in the range of 17% below 2005 levels in 2020 and ultimately in line with final U.S. energy and climate legislation” (White House 2009d).35 The country’s position on finance remained unclear. Nonetheless, its proposal would incite China’s government to publicly announce its target only a day later: concretizing the proposals made by President Hu Jintao at the September UN high-level summit, the State Council announced – as a “voluntary action” – that it would cut carbon emissions relative to economic growth by 40% to 45% by 2020 compared to 2005 levels (Watts 2009). Under pressure from the other major players, India, on 3 December, also suggested a “voluntary” and “non-binding” carbon intensity target of 20–25% by 2020 compared to 2005 levels, coupled to expectations about financial aids (Mohiuddin 2009).

← 204 | 205 →The Copenhagen Summit

COP 15/MOP 5, held between 7 and 19 December 2009 in Copenhagen, was supposed to deliver the “agreed outcome” stipulated in the Bali Action Plan. Expectations for the summit had gradually built up and found their expression in an unprecedented level of media and civil society attention. Civil society would not only attempt to make its voice heard outside the premises of the conference – through protests of hundred thousands of people on 12 December – but massively also at the COP. Altogether, about 45,000 registered participants sought access to the much too small Congress Centre during the second week of the COP.

The conference opened on 7 December 2009 with a short ceremony. Although the Danish Presidency did its utmost to create a spirit of optimism, negotiators were under serious pressure: according to the official planning, only six working days were left to prepare the negotiation texts for decisions by ministers. The last day of the summit was then foreseen for a high-level celebration involving the heads of state and government of 120 countries. During the organizational parts of the COP and MOP, delegates elected the Danish Minister for Climate and Energy, Connie Hedegaard, to preside the meetings (ENB 2009t: 1). Parties’ opening statements reflected then well-known rifts: rather than displaying flexibility, they reiterated long-standing positions.36

In the first week, talks in both AWGs resumed where (and as) they had ended in Barcelona. AWG-LCA 8 began with lengthy opening statements, before discussing the methodology of further proceedings. Work was pursued in the habitual contact groups – now referred to as “drafting groups” – plus an overarching contact group to be presided by the LCA Chair Zammit Cutajar (ENB 2009t: 2). The first textual discussions on key issues (mitigation, shared vision) did not result in major advances. On 9 December, the substantial difficulties in advancing talks on these issues were superseded by procedural gridlock in the COP. To discuss the protocol proposals that had been submitted (by Australia, Japan, the US, Costa Rica and Tuvalu), Tuvalu asked for the creation of a new contact group (ENB 2009v: 1). This triggered an intra-G-77/China debate opposing AOSIS and the LDCs to the emerging countries and OPEC. To resolve the conflict, the COP was suspended for informal consultations, stalling talks for more than a day. The AWG-LCA contact groups would not resume before the afternoon of 10 December, but did ← 205 | 206 →not yield any tangible progress (ENB 2009w: 3).37 AWG-KP 10 started on the basis of broad documentation, without even a formal negotiating text (ENB 2009t: 3). Four contact groups were again formed, with the majority of eight time slots allocated to the “numbers group” (ENB 2009t: 4). Discussions in this group first focused on the left-overs from the Barcelona talks, i.e. essentially the level of ambition for aggregate and individual Annex I emission reductions, the use of flexible mechanisms and LULUCFin existing pledges, the length and number of commitment periods and the question of base year (ENB 2009u: 3). Work in small informal groups did not deliver any results during the first days. Despite the perceived pressure, parties were not displaying any willingness to compromise and continued repeating their by then well-known positions. On the issue of base year, for instance, parties spoke out in favour of one legally binding year per party, which implied that each party would be allowed to pledge whatever it felt most suitable to inscribe into the amended Annex B of the Protocol. On the central question of Annex I party pledges on emissions reductions (ENB 2009v: 3), debates opposed Annex I and non-Annex I countries: on 9 December, Japan and Russia stated that it was unrealistic to make and increase pledges if it continued to be uncertain how much and under what conditions other major emitters (i.e. the US and the emerging countries) would act under the parallel negotiation track (ENB 2009v: 3). Developing countries, headed by China, re-iterated their habitual legalistic argument that commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, also for a second commitment period, were legally binding and had to be honoured regardless of what happened elsewhere (ENB 2009v: 1). In this debate, the EU attempted to cut across lines by proposing means of increasing countries’ pledges: (re-)introducing its four comparability criteria (population, GDP, early action, emissions, all weighted equally), it presented calculations comparing available party pledges against an assumed 30% overall emission reduction target for Annex I parties by 2020. If LULUCF rules and the current system of Assigned Amount Units, with its surpluses for countries that were subject to the “hot air” problem, were reformed, pledges could come close to the 25–40% range. Developing countries greeted the EU’s presentation, but discussions during the following sessions of the group remained inconclusive.

Outside these two groups, the Danish Presidency had pursued its talks behind the scenes during the first week of the COP/MOP (Meilstrup 2010). Their intermediate result became known when a draft negotiation ← 206 | 207 →text was leaked on 9 December.38 Framed as a COP decision entitled the “Copenhagen Agreement”, the draft contained seven main parts, largely reflecting the building blocks of the Bali Action Plan (UNFCCC 2009m). On the topics of interest here, it stated a commitment to keep mean temperature rise below 2°C, to strive for a peak by a specific year (2020 mentioned in brackets) and to halve global emissions by 2050 (at 1990 levels). Further, industrialized countries would pledge commitments into an attachment to the COP decision and reduce their emissions by 80% until 2050, while developing countries (LDCs excluded) would commit to NAMAs, “including actions supported and enabled by technology, financing and capacity building”, which “could in aggregate yield a [Y percent] deviation in 2020 from business as usual” (UNFCCC 2009m: 4). To ensure developing country action, adaptation and finance were given a prominent place in the text. On the latter, it stated that “international public finance support [should/shall] reach the order of X billion USD in 2020” and, between 2010 and 2012, “[10] billion” USD per year (UNFCCC 2009m: 6). finally, it was indicated that several subordinate COP and MOP decisions, among others on a “technology mechanism”, a “Climate Fund” and “improvements of existing flexible mechanisms”, would be annexed to this decision (UNFCCC 2009m: 13). The Agreement would be effective immediately, but negotiations also continued to reach a legally binding outcome by “COP XX” (UNFCCC 2009m: 1). The key structure and logic of this draft, based on voluntary pledges without any reference to the scientific benchmark of the IPCC’s FAR, gave a flavour of what talks in parallel to the official negotiations would concentrate on during the remainder of the summit. Upon its leakage, the text sparked vehement reactions from various G-77/China spokespersons, notably the coalition’s Chair Sudan, characterizing the Danish approach as “illegitimate” because it allegedly violated UN procedures (G-77/China Press Conference 9 Dec. 2009).39 This started a series of attacks of G-77/China representatives on the Danish COP Presidency, which – through its attempts to forge an agreement in smaller circles behind the scenes – caused, in the eyes of observers, a growing distrust among parties during the further course of the talks (de Boer 2010; Meilstrup 2010: 128–129; Interviews EU representatives 22, 8).

As the summit was approaching the end of its first week, EU leaders were still bickering back in Brussels about precise financial proposals ← 207 | 208 →for fast-start finance between 2010 and 2012, but also about whether and under which specific conditions to move up its reduction commitment to 30% (DPA 2009a). The first problem would be dealt with swiftly: the EU’s fast-start finance contribution agreed to on 11 December would amount to € 2.4 billion per year between 2010 and 2012, with contributions from the EU’s and all member states’ budgets (European Council 2009c: point 37). With this, the Union launched a major influence attempt, hoping to provide new impetus to the talks. On the issue of targets, more reluctant member states (Germany, with the argument of holding back the 30% commitment as “leverage”, and the Eastern European countries) won over those that favoured the more ambitious unilateral pledge (e.g. the UK, France, the Netherlands) (DPA 2009a).

On the morning of Friday, 11 December, the chairs of the two AWGs attempted to streamline and accelerate talks by issuing new negotiating texts. In joint informal consultations, LCA Chair Zammit Cutajar was the first to present his draft (UNFCCC 2009n). Assuming the adoption of a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, the seven-page document focused on key issues requiring political guidance, with placeholders on elements of the Bali Action Plan on which progress in the drafting groups was considered possible (e.g. technology transfer). Parties were generally to ensure that “the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed [2°C] [1.5°C]” (UNFCCC 2009n: para. 3a). To that end, all “Parties should collectively reduce global emissions by at least [50] [85] [95] per cent from 1990 levels by 2050”, whereas “developed country Parties as a group should reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by [75–85] [at least 80–95] [more than 95] per cent from 1990 levels by 2050” (UNFCCC 2009n: para. 3b and 3c). On the issue of mid-term targets, the COP “agrees” that developed countries shall undertake

individually or jointly, legally binding (…) commitments or actions, [including] [expressed as] quantified economy-wide emission reduction objectives with a view to reducing [them] by at least [25–40] [in the order of 30] [40] [45] per cent from 1990 levels by 2020,

while it only “takes note” that developing country Parties

shall undertake nationally appropriate mitigation actions, enabled and supported by finance, technology and capacity-building provided by developed country Parties, and may undertake autonomous mitigation actions, together aimed at achieving a substantial deviation in emissions [in the order of 15–30 per cent by 2020] (UNFCCC 2009n: para. 11, 20).

Developing country reporting duties, another key issue, were to be met through national communications “and shall be [assessed at the national level] [considered in a [review] [consultative] process under the ← 208 | 209 →Convention], in accordance with guidelines to be adopted by the” COP (UNFCCC 2009n: para. 24). Supported NAMAs “shall be subject to” MRV following COP guidelines (UNFCCC 2009n: para. 25). finally, a distinction was made between fast-track finance, to be ensured through “individual pledges by developed country Parties to provide new and additional resources amounting to [XX] for the period 2010–2012” and mid-term finance (UNFCCC 2009n: para. 44 and 39). Like the Danish proposal that had leaked earlier that week, the draft was framed as a COP decision followed by other decisions (on LULUCF, mechanisms, etc.). While long-standing positions of all coalitions were reflected in the text, it leaned, with comparatively soft formulations on developing country actions (“takes note”), toward demands of emerging countries. AWG-KP Chair Ashe presented his text as content-wise “not new” and drafted on the basis that “nothing will be agreed until everything else is agreed” (UNFCCC 2009o: 1; Observation notes 11 Dec. 2009). It represented in essence a re-structuring of paragraphs long discussed in the AWG. Regarding specific targets for a second commitment period and their modalities (base year, commitment periods), it foresaw a MOP decision with amendments to Articles 3.1, 3.7 and an update of Annex B, into which Annex I parties would insert pledges “with a view to reducing their overall emissions of such gases within the range of [30 to 45] per cent below 1990 levels in the commitment period [2013 to 2018] [2013 to 2020]” (UNFCCC 2009o: Art. 3.1).

Reactions to both drafts were mixed: while the G-77/China was quite positive, industrialized countries remained more cautious. In informal consultations on the AWG-LCA draft, the EU called the text “a step into the right direction”, but criticized the “enormous uncertainty on the steps to get to a legally binding outcome”, and stated that the difference between the Kyoto rules and paragraph 15, cited above, was too pronounced (Observation notes 11 Dec. 2009).40 A second shortcoming it identified concerned paragraphs 20–23 (developing country mitigation): the fact that the COP should simply “take note” of developing country action commitments was considered as “too loose” (Observation notes 11 Dec. 2009). Essentially for this latter reason, the US, which generally considered that the text “could be the basis for talks”, refuted the entire mitigation section, which it regarded as “highly unbalanced” between what was expected from developed and developing countries (Observation notes ← 209 | 210 →11 Dec. 2009). It also spoke out against paragraph 15, which it found to resemble too much the Kyoto Protocol formulas. On the AWG-KP draft, developing countries like China noted “a very solid basis”, while the EU stated that it should not prejudge the outcome, calling for a single legal instrument building on the Kyoto Protocol (Observation notes 11 Dec. 2009).

COP and MOP plenary sessions officially endorsed both drafts on Saturday 12 December (ENB 2009x: 1–2). The first week of talks ended thus without any advances other than two artfully re-arranged compilations of parties’ long-standing positions. For the EU, the week had equally been unsuccessful: it remained stuck with the refinement of its position regarding the crucial topics (legal outcome, red lines on mitigation) as well as many technical issues.

The second week of the summit began as the first had ended: slowly. With the official closure of the two AWGs only about 36 hours away, conflicts over procedure led to a temporary suspension of all contact groups on Monday, 14 December. It followed renewed developing country criticism about the choice of the Danish Presidency to negotiate with a limited number of ministers that had arrived over the weekend (ENB 2009y: 2). After lengthy informal consultations and the assurance that the process would remain “party-driven”, a new working method was agreed to, reflecting calls for stronger political steering. Additional drafting groups under the guidance of two ministers (one from the developed, another from the developing world) were to discuss crunch issues cutting across the two negotiation fora. They began their work on developed country targets under the Kyoto Protocol, in line with G-77/China priorities, and then moved on to AWG-LCA issues (developing country mitigation, long-term emission reductions and long-term financing).41 When ministers would report back from their informal consultations in the afternoon of 15 December, it became obvious that this method had equally failed to produce but clarifications of seemingly insurmountable differences (ENB 2009z: 4).

Stock-taking meetings of the AWG-LCA and AWG-KP before the final plenaries would equally deliver little advances. The AWG-LCA formulated its report in the early morning hours of 16 December (ENB 2009z: 1–2). Despite serious disagreements on key items (notably mitigation) reflected in the persistently high number of brackets, parties decided to forward the draft as “unfinished business” (UNFCCC 2009a; ENB 2009z: 2). The AWG-KP had completed its work a few hours before with an equally unfinished negotiating text (UNFCCC 2009p). Parties ← 210 | 211 →requested the Chair to ask the MOP for another day of time to “clean out” the text to prepare clear options suitable for political decisions (ENB 2009z: 2–3). If parties wanted to avoid complete failure of the talks, already decried by the media, crucial issues (mitigation, finance) needed political scrutiny. This position was also expressed by the EU in the debates on the AWG-KP report in the MOP plenary of 16 December. The G-77/China, by contrast, requested further informal consultations. Similar discussions arose in the COP: after accepting the Chair’s text as basis, parties requested the Presidency to clarify the further working method (ENB 2009aa: 3).

In the meantime, the high-level segment of the summit had already been opened. On 15 December, the UN Secretary General and COP President Hedegaard reminded parties in their speeches that “failure is not an option” and that they should now choose between “fame and shame” when adjusting their behaviour for the final days of the talks (ENB 2009z: 1; Observation notes 15 Dec. 2009). On 16 December, the ministerial part of the high-level segment started with a small surprise: Hedegaard resigned and parties elected Prime Minister Rasmussen to replace her (ENB 2009aa: 1).42 The new President immediately had to deal with a point of order by Brazil, expressing concern that “a text” was being prepared “behind the scenes” to supersede the two AWGs texts (Observation notes 16 Dec. 2009). Brazil’s concern was quite evidently linked to the person of Rasmussen himself, whose approach was not to the liking of the G-77/China, as it foresaw deal-making in smaller circles outside the AWGs (de Boer 2010: Meilstrup 2010: 130). Similar worries were voiced by China, India and the G-77/China Chair Sudan “and others, many of them among the parties whose leaders had shown [Rasmussen] support pre-COP” (Meilstrup 2010: 130; Müller 2010: 10–11). Rasmussen defended himself by stating that he had not yet presented any new texts (officially), and reiterated the Danish commitment to transparency. He also pointed out, however, that his duty was to “get things moving” (Observation notes 16 Dec. 2009). Although this did not satisfy the opponents of his approach, the chaotic discussion was (temporarily) interrupted to pursue the high-level meeting. Following speakers of all negotiation coalitions, many heads of state and government used the opportunity to present their world views, related or unrelated to climate change. An interesting development concerning the EU’s role in the talks occurred when the African Group’s representative, Ethiopian Prime Minister Zenawi, outlined his coalition’s demands regarding finance: USD 10 billion per year between 2010–2012 (40% of which ← 211 | 212 →should go to Africa) and up to USD 100 billion by 2020 (ENB 2009aa: 2). In contrast to the Africans’ previous stance on this issue, he signalled openness to finance suggestions43 – notably to the EU, the most fervent defender of financial proposals of such a magnitude. Speaking only shortly after Zenawi, Commission President Barroso stated – other than the EU’s by then well-known positions and renewed appeals to China and the US – that he had listened “with great interest” to the Ethiopian comments (Observation notes 16 Dec. 2009).44 A meeting scheduled for later that day between the EU Troika and Ethiopia was followed by a joint press conference in which the Swedish Prime Minister reported a very constructive exchange with the African Group that could provide “positive energy for this conference” (EU Press Conference 16 Dec. 2009). Zenawi himself explained: “we in Africa felt that if we could commence to resolve one of the issues, finance, other things could be solved as well” (EU Press Conference 16 Dec. 2009).

With the high-level segment and informal consultations about the working method ongoing, the next to last day of the negotiations, Thursday, 17 December, witnessed the arrival of another important protagonist. At a press conference at midday, US Secretary of State Clinton introduced a new element of her country’s position: responding to G-77/China finance demands, strongly voiced by the African Group the day before, the US envisaged up to 100 billion USD per year in finance for adaptation and mitigation in developing countries by 2020 (Clinton 2009). This money was to be generated from a variety of public and private sources, but Clinton failed to specify what the US contribution would be. Maximum transparency of emission reductions in emerging countries would be the precondition for benefiting from these funds. Replying to the media, she also stated that President Obama “was planning to come tomorrow (…) we hope there will be something to come for” (Clinton 2009). In reaction to her proposal, signs of openness were displayed in the evening when China’s Vice-Foreign Minister indicated that his country would consider voluntary “international exchanges” of information on its climate actions (Broder/Rosenthal 2009). Further, Japan announced that it would be prepared to contribute USD 15 billion fast-start finance between 2010 and 2012 (WWF 2009).

Briefly after Clinton’s statement, the COP and MOP plenary sessions resumed in order to debate the issue of procedure. President Rasmussen suggested pursuing on the basis of the texts delivered from the AWGs and in open-ended drafting groups under the guidance of Hedegaard ← 212 | 213 →(ENB 2009bb: 1). Despite the procedural points raised by the G-77/China Chair Sudan, parties endorsed this proposal. It implied that a “Danish text” from behind the scenes was definitely discarded, and that the two “party-driven texts” would be further considered in the same type of arrangement that had dealt with them for two years. Unsurprisingly, as Hedegaard reported in the evening, it yielded the same meagre results on the crunch issues (ENB 2009bb: 2–4; Müller 2010: 12). At that point, she asked parties therefore for their procedural proposals. The EU was first to suggest setting up a smaller “Friends of the Chair” group to pursue negotiations.45 Despite renewed developing countries’ concerns about lacking transparency of such an arrangement, both COP and MOP officially charged about two dozen parties46 with pursuing talks in parallel to the drafting groups under the two tracks.47 The group debated at heads of state level until about three o’clock in the morning, working on a short, political draft agreement that made recourse to some of the formulas contained in the Danish leaked COP decision and was to provide a “chapeau” for the two negotiating texts – after which ministers took over until the early morning hours (DPA 2009b; Goldenberg/Stratton 2009; Goldenberg et al. 2009).

To conclude the conference, the dramaturgy of the summit had originally foreseen a ceremony at heads of state level, to begin at ten o’clock on Friday, 18 December, its official last day. As nothing had been agreed, this timetable was necessarily altered. Upon his arrival in Copenhagen, US President Obama first invited leaders of key countries to talks in a hotel close to the airport (The Guardian 2009). While this meeting was held, the leader of the other major emitter, China’s Premier Wen Jiabao was, to the surprise of many observers, awaiting the beginning of the proceedings in the half-empty plenary.48

← 213 | 214 →When the heads of state meeting finally began, the first speakers would set the tone for the remainder of the day. Incidentally, the schedule foresaw a rapid succession of leaders from the world’s major countries. To begin with, the Chinese Prime Minister used his speech to recall his country’s climate policies and positions, stressing the fact that its 40–45% energy intensity reduction pledge by 2020 was to be incorporated into “Chinese mid- and long-term plans as a mandatory target” (Observation notes 18 Dec. 2009). He went on to state that his country would improve the internal monitoring and evaluation of its efforts to reach this target, and engage increasingly in “international exchange, dialogue and cooperation”, thus responding positively yet cautiously to the US demand for verification (Observation notes 18 Dec. 2009). Showing no other signs of flexibility, Wen Jiabao concluded by underscoring that China envisaged its “voluntary action” independently of any other parties’ targets/actions, and “will be fully committed to achieving and even exceeding” its target (Observation notes 18 Dec. 2009). Only minutes later, following a speech by Brazil’s President Lula, Obama entered the plenary hall through a back door to deliver a short speech that largely resembled Wen Jiabao’s, equally displaying a low degree of flexibility of the US position. Where many had hoped that he would bring another offer to the table, possibly in terms of a higher target proposal than the 4–5% by 2020 against 1990 levels, Obama had only the following message: according to the US, a “global accord”, “in which we agree to take certain steps, and to hold each other accountable for our commitments” would be the ideal outcome at this stage of the talks, and “the pieces of that accord are now clear (…) mitigation, transparency, and finance” (Observation notes 18 Dec. 2009). He concluded with an appeal that was symptomatic of the US take-it-or-leave-it approach: “America has made our choice. We have charted our course, (…) made our commitments, and we will do what we say. Now it is time for the nations and people of the world to come together behind a common purpose” (Observation notes 18 Dec. 2009).49 With this, he left the plenary again to engage in further informal consultations. For the EU, foreseen later in the programme, Sweden’s Prime Minister reformulated earlier appeals to the two big emitters to go beyond what they had just proposed. Europe, he said, was serious about reaching an agreement and “not just talking about procedures”, a clear side blow at the G-77/China (Observation notes 18 Dec. 2009).

Once the major speeches had been delivered, talks entered into their decisive stage: informal consultations between members of the Friends of the Chair group included an early afternoon exchange of ← 214 | 215 →Wen Jiabao and Obama (The Guardian 2009). In the course of the day, the political agreement sought by leaders would undergo significant transformations, reflected in several draft versions. To allow for a process-trace,50 the most significant ones will be examined here with regard to the key topics under analysis.

While an overnight version of the political agreement had been unanimously refused as “too weak” by the EU (Becker/Nelles 2009), another, untitled version of the text became public around midday (UNFCCC 2009q). It resembled in some ways the Danish draft text rendered public the week before. “affirming our firm resolve to adopt one or more legal instruments (…) as soon as possible and no later than COP 16/CMP 6”, the parties formulated brief consensus language on key elements of the Bali Action Plan. The draft contained the recognition of climate science (“increase in global temperature ought not to exceed 2 degrees”) (para. 1), but retained a marked differentiation between parties: Annex I parties would “commit to implement” quantified targets so that reductions would be in the order of “X per cent by 2020 compared to 1990 and Y per cent compared to 2005”, laid down in an annex (para. 4).51 Non-Annex I countries would “resolve to implement mitigation actions”, which “shall be reflected through their national communications (…) every two years” (para. 5). Paragraph 5 on MRV contained an attempted compromise between the insistence on “voluntary” action by developing countries and international verification demands by the US and other Annex I countries.52 On finance, paragraph 8 read: “Parties take note of the individual pledges by developed country Parties to provide (…) 30 billion dollars for the period 2010–2012” and “support a goal of mobilizing jointly 100 billion dollars a year by 2020”. Money should go primarily to LDCs. Moreover, parties called for “a review of this decision and its implementation in 2016”, indicating their desire to adopt the text as a COP decision. The final paragraph reaffirmed their commitment to extend the mandates ← 215 | 216 →of the two AWGs to arrive at “one or two legal instruments under the Convention”, thusly shifting most issues to a later stage (para. 12, 13). Negotiations on the document, which lacked some crucial EU positions (mid-term 25–40% reduction range, long-term target), continued.

Another draft of the text negotiated by the Friends of the Chair reflected the status of the talks in the afternoon (ca. 4:30 pm, UNFCCC 2009r). Now entitled “Copenhagen Accord”, in line with the wording chosen by Obama in his speech earlier that day (“global accord”), the draft had slightly changed on the key issues. The most marked difference concerned the parties’ desire to adopt a legally binding outcome at a later stage, which had been completely dropped. Instead, the review of the accord had been predated to 2015 (para. 12). Language around the 2°C goal had been strengthened (para. 1 and 2), whereas a collective Annex I party target had been taken out. Countries could now pledge individual targets into an appendix by 1 February 2010 (para. 4), in line with US preferences. Non-Annex I parties would do the same with their “mitigation actions” (para. 5). The wording on MRV and finance had remained largely unchanged (para. 5, 8), but the idea of a “Copenhagen Green Climate Fund” was newly inserted into paragraph 10.

At about the same time, an informal European Council was consulting in situ on the draft and the question of whether the Union could give a last-minute impulse to the talks. As in the EU coordination meeting the night before, the UK and France proposed to move the unilateral emissions reductions pledge up to 30%, but met with opposition from, notably, Italy and Poland.

Talks on the 4:30 pm draft continued into the evening, with heads of states, assisted by high-ranking negotiators, engaging personally in concrete textual work (The Guardian 2009). The next intermediate outcome of these efforts was circulated at about 7:30 pm (UNFCCC 2009s). Although the prospect of a legally binding agreement had not been re-inserted, the final paragraph stated that the review (in 2016) would consider strengthening the long-term goal in order to limit global temperature increase to “1.5 degrees”, a strong AOSIS and LDC demand. Paragraph 2 mentioned, instead of the 2°C aim (now only in para. 1), the G-8 agreed long-term target of halving global emissions by 2050 (below 1990 levels). Further on mitigation, Annex I parties “commit to reducing their emissions (…) by at least 80 per cent by 2050” (without mentioning a base year), while the individual pledges immediately inserted into an appendix would be summed up into “X percent” in 2020 of 1990 levels and “Y percent” of 2005 levels, thus combining the formulas used in previous drafts (para. 4). Largely untouched, the section on mitigation actions by non-Annex I countries contained a placeholder “[Consideration to be inserted US and China]” on MRV (para. 5). Key changes concerned the ← 216 | 217 →targets and reflected industrialized countries’ positions and formulas endorsed by the G-8 in previous years. This was not the end of the story, however (for an overview, see Table 4).

Table 4: The Negotiations of the Copenhagen Accord

← 217 | 218 →image

← 218 | 219 →Note: The table concentrates on key analytical units of this study (mitigation by different groups of countries) and closely linked topics (MRV, finance and legal bindingness). It covers key draft versions and indicates the approximate time at which each draft was circulated.

← 219 | 220 →Obama and Wen Jiabao were still supposed to meet in order to clarify the issue of verification of developing country emission reduction actions and thus lift one of the final brackets in the draft text (Melstrup 2010: 132; The Guardian 2009). Upon Obama’s arrival at the venue where he was to encounter the Chinese Premier, the latter was in a meeting of the BASIC countries (Broder 2009). According to US and Brazilian sources, Obama (and Secretary of State Clinton) interrupted that meeting and (were)53 asked to join in (Broder 2009; Müller 2010: 13). In this exchange, obviously very difficult to reconstruct here, (essentially) China and the US reportedly worked out the terminology regarding MRV. In return for Chinese acceptance of formulas going into the direction of US preferences, the US (and the Friends of the Chair group) would have to accept Chinese (and BASIC) demands of deleting passages containing the G-8 formula of “halving global emissions by 2050”, 80% reductions by Annex I countries and the 1.5°C target reference dear to AOSIS (Merkel 2009; Lynas 2009; Spiegel 2010).54 None of those were found back in an otherwise largely unmodified draft of the accord of about 10:00 pm (UNFCCC 2009t). When the Maldives, supported by the majority of the Friends of the Chair, later defended the 1.5°C reference, China had to accept its re-insertion, but not without considerably weakening the language around that target (Lynas 2009). For the rest, the final “Copenhagen Accord” resembled very much the previous version of the text, with the exception of the date by when parties would inscribe their pledges into the appendices (31 January) (para. 4, 5) and a stronger emphasis on the Green Climate Fund (para. 8, 10). finally, the text endorsed the outcomes of the AWGs, without specifying what to do with these or how their work would be continued.

While parties were still discussing final details, and those that had not been involved in the Friends of the Chair group had not actually seen the final draft, one of the key players of the day reported already to the press. Calling the Accord “a meaningful and unprecedented breakthrough”, US President Obama emphasised that for the first time “all major economies have come together to accept their responsibility to take action to confront” climate change (US Press Conference 18 Dec. 2009).55 After ← 220 | 221 →acknowledging that progress was “not enough”, he went on to express his hope for the “beginning of a new era of international action” and concluded on a pragmatic note (“it’s important for us, instead of setting up a bunch of goals that end up just being words on a page and are not met, that we get moving”), before returning to Washington (US Press Conference 18 Dec. 2009).

EU leaders, who had last met in an informal European Council to discuss the draft of 7:30 pm, took a bit more time before coming in front of the press. Both UK Prime Minister Brown and German chancellor Merkel stated that the Accord marked a “first step”, which was far from perfect (Brown 2009; Merkel 2009). It would take another few hours before the EU Troika would give insights into the final hours of the negotiations as well as into the delegation’s feelings at the end of this summit. Swedish Prime Minister Reinfeldt admitted that this was “not a perfect agreement”, and that it would not limit global temperature increase to 2°C (EU Press Conference 19 Dec. 2009). On the EU’s role, he commented that “we were very well prepared, but we saw that there was not the same level of preparation on other parts” (EU Press Conference 19 Dec. 2009). Commission President Barroso did not want to “hide his disappointment”56 and already turned to the future: “we need to take this process into a new phase and learn the lessons from here” (EU Press Conference 19 Dec. 2009). Asked about the EU’s implication in the process during the final hours, Barroso stated that “in ambition, we were always leading, but we were not leading when it was the point of lowering the ambition (…) it is true that others were much more influential when it was about reducing the ambitions” (EU Press Conference 19 Dec. 2009). Reinfeldt completed: “We have not been chased by others to go to 30%”, and concluded: “It seemed sometimes that we were not in a climate change negotiation” (EU Press Conference 19 Dec. 2009).

Despite the (reluctant) endorsements by major leaders, the conference was not yet over: the Accord negotiated by the Friends of the Chair still had to be agreed – by consensus – in the formal decision-making body under the Convention, the COP. This proved extremely difficult (Müller 2010: 13–17). Resuming shortly after 3 am, the overtired delegates engaged again in a battle of words about the nature of the process and its outcome. The Danish Prime Minister tried to get the Accord, elaborated by a “representative group of leaders”, quickly accepted, giving parties only limited time to consider their reactions. To this end, he opened the final MOP plenary with the intention to suspend it and pursue discussions on ← 221 | 222 →the Accord an hour later (ENB 2009cc: 7). Several parties raised points of order, however, in which they expressed disagreement with the working method and the Accord itself. For Tuvalu’s representative, this method was “disrespectful of the UN”, which is why “Tuvalu cannot accept this document” (Observation notes 19 Dec. 2009). Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba and Nicaragua equally resisted. As there was no consensus, Costa Rica suggested having the Accord issued as an “information document” (INF), while Nicaragua proposed to issue it as a “miscellaneous document” (MISC), i.e. a party submission (ENB 2009cc: 8). After a first interruption, Rasmussen proposed to consider the text as MISC document, which was refused by, inter alia, India on grounds that such a document was too informal given the fact that the Accord had been negotiated by its head of state (ENB 2009cc: 8). After many other parties, including the EU, the LDCs, the African Union, Japan, the US, Grenada and the Maldives, had supported the Accord, UK Environment Minister Miliband – reportedly alerted by his staff to regain the conference premises in the face of the problematic development of the talks (Pearce 2009) – suggested that it be adopted as a COP decision, after which Slovenia proposed a COP decision with a footnote stating the dissenting parties. This was further opposed by five countries (Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Tuvalu). When Rasmussen was at the point of concluding the session without results at 5:30 am, the UK moved for an adjournment (ENB 2009cc: 8). Two and a half hours later, Rasmussen had been replaced by a COP Vice-President who proposed that the conference “takes note” of the Copenhagen Accord and that those parties supporting the Accord could associate themselves with it. He then quickly gavelled this decision through. Following another debate on the operationalization of the agreement, a decision was taken to continue work under the AWG-LCA on the basis of agreements reached in Copenhagen (UNFCCC 2009v). The COP closed shortly after two o’clock in the afternoon. The MOP then adopted a decision on the further work of the AWG-KP (UNFCCC 2009w; ENB 2009cc: 11). With this, the Copenhagen summit closed at 3:30 pm on Saturday, 19 December 2009, almost 24 hours after its scheduled ending.

The Outcome: the Copenhagen Accord

The main product of the two-year negotiation process culminating in COP 15 was the “Copenhagen Accord” (CA), a document best characterized as a political declaration. Unlike the originally envisaged legally binding agreement (i.e. an international treaty that would, at least in principle, be enforceable), this two and a half-page document had only moral value: for those that had negotiated it – as well as for whoever would associate with it –, it would be politically inopportune to not strive for its implementation. This implementation was, however, seriously threatened. ← 222 | 223 →By framing the texts discussed by the Friends of the Chair as COP decisions, the Danish Presidency had hoped to obtain an outcome with soft law status (Rajamani 2010a, 2009). It came differently: due to the resistance of several countries (Tuvalu, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba) in the final plenary, the COP only “took note” of the Accord. This, in the words of UNFCCC Secretary General de Boer, represented a “way of recognizing that something is there, but not going so far as to directly associating yourself with it” (UNFCCC Press Conference 19 Dec. 2009). It also meant that the Accord was not an official UN document and certainly not the “agreed outcome” stipulated in the Bali Action Plan, with two main consequences (Müller 2010: 1; Rajamani 2010a): 1. Certain provisions requiring a reliance on UN structures and procedures could not be “immediately operational”; 2. Negotiations would, as the two associated COP decisions on the work of the AWGs suggested, have to continue (UNFCCC 2009v, w).

A brief discussion of the key provisions of the Accord relevant for this study concentrates on the sections on mitigation commitments and actions by developed and developing countries and their verification as well as on finance. Recalling Article 2 UNFCCC, the document first concretized the objective of the climate regime: to stabilize GHG “at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, we shall, recognizing the scientific view that the increase in global temperature should be below 2 degrees Celsius (…) enhance our long-term cooperative action to combat climate change” (para. 1). This formula was repeated and specified in the subsequent paragraph with a reference to the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report. Providing for an implicit link between the 2°C target and the mitigation scenarios developed in that report, it amounted to an indirect recognition of the relevant emissions reduction trajectories (of 25–40% by 2020 and 50–85% by 2050 compared to 1990 by industrialized countries), promoted especially by the EU and the majority of the G-77/China ever since the Bali COP. The essential approach to mitigation, a “pledge and review” of the most voluntary kind, reflecting US and emerging countries’ preferences, was, however, in no ways capable of ensuring that this weakly formulated aim would be attained (Rajamani 2010a). Moreover, the Accord stipulated that Annex I parties should submit commitments “to implement individually or jointly the quantified economy-wide emissions targets for 2020” and non-Annex I parties NAMAs, both “in the format given in” two appendices “to the secretariat by 31 January 2010 for compilation in an INF document” (para. 4, 5 CA). LDCs and AOSIS members “may undertake actions voluntarily and on the basis of support” (para. 5 CA). In addition to the bottom up approach inherent in the pledges, shifting the information on commitments/actions (i) to the future and (ii) into an INF (informal) document ← 223 | 224 →of no other than an informational value underscored the weak engagement parties made with this agreement. Nonetheless, these provisions, notably with regard to emerging country actions, have been interpreted as the major novelty and “breakthrough” of the post-2012 negotiations (Purvis/Stevenson 2010). For the first time, non-Annex I parties would bind themselves, albeit politically, to NAMAs. Yet, the differentiation between groups of countries, also reflected in the language of the Accord (Annex I vs. non-Annex I), was retained. Verification of target fulfilment and actions, a third important item in the Accord, was equally differentiated. A lengthy paragraph, reflecting US concerns and compromises with BASIC, spelled out the details for developing countries (see Table 4): actions would be reported every two years and “subject to (…) domestic [MRV]”. Reports on their implementation would be subjected to “international consultations and analysis under clearly defined guidelines that will ensure (…) national sovereignty” (para. 5 CA). NAMAs “seeking international support will be recorded in a registry along with relevant technology, finance and capacity building support”; “supported (…) actions will be subject to international” MRV in accordance with COP guidelines (para. 5 CA). By contrast, developed country commitments “will be measured, reported and verified in accordance with existing and any further guidelines adopted by the” COP (para. 4 CA). This type of MRV applied not only to mitigation, but also to finance, the final key component of the agreement. On this issue, the deal foresaw the provision of fast-track financing via the “collective commitment by developed countries (…) to provide new and additional resources (…) approaching USD 30 billion for the period 2010–2012” as well as long-term financial resources. “Developed countries commit to a goal of mobilizing jointly USD 100 billion dollars a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries”, which would come from public and private, bilateral and multilateral sources (para. 8 CA). Besides a “Technology Mechanism”, the Accord stipulated the creation of a “Green Climate Fund (…) as an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the Convention” (para. 11, 10 CA). Due to the uncertain legal status of the Accord, the operationalization of both as well as of the financial proposals in general was, however, unclear (Rajamani 2010a).

Besides these – for the purpose of this study – central elements of the Accord, paragraph 12 called for the assessment of its implementation in 2015, at the mid-point between its adoption and the delivery of the 2020 targets and after the next IPCC report expected for 2014. At the insistence of AOSIS, this paragraph also contained a loose reference to their preferred temperature limit: the 2015 assessment would include “considerations of strengthening the long-term goal (…), including in relation to temperature rises of 1.5 degrees Celsius”. finally, the CA also endorsed ← 224 | 225 →two related decisions to continue the work of the two AWGs, but without any deadline or indications as to the further working procedures of these bodies. The two decisions themselves were a bit more concrete about these proceedings. The COP decision stipulated “to extend the mandate of the [AWG-LCA] to enable it to continue its work with a view to” finalizing it for COP 16 (UNFCCC 2009v: point 1). Talks would be continued on the basis of the negotiating text as it stood at the end of COP 15. The respective MOP decision stipulated the same for the AWG-KP and its negotiating text (UNFCCC 2009w). Although “cleaned” on many technical items, both negotiating texts still resembled compilations of party positions on a range of key issues.

In the final analysis, the Accord appeared weak on its targets and form, and unspecific regarding its operationalization and implementation. To allow for a full assessment of the document, but also of EU influence in the next section of this chapter, it is instructive to briefly highlight what it did not achieve besides legal certainty. Several issues discussed at length between Bali and Copenhagen were simply not reflected in it. Most prominently, this concerned the reference to emission reduction goals for 2020 and 2050 for different groups of countries. Closely related to this was its silence on a (common) base year. finally, amid many other technical points, accounting rules (regarding LULUCF and flexible mechanisms) were not specified. All this would render the calculation and comparison of targets extremely difficult. It would form the basis of continued negotiations from 2010 on.

The EU’s Influence Attempts: Extracting Patterns

The process-trace of the negotiations between COP 13 and 15 allows for an extraction of patterns of the Union’s external activities during the post-2012 talks. To begin with, a brief consideration of global climate politics seems, however, in order so as to place the EU’s influence attempts into a broader context. The story testifies to the gradual transformation of global climate policy-making into a complex multi-site process, with two main tracks under the UN umbrella and a partial delocalization of talks into restricted arenas outside the UN regime (G-8+5, Major Economies Forum, G-20, Greenland Dialogue). Closely linked to this was a gradual “high-levelization” of talks. As seen, the finale of the post-2012 talks was characterized by the involvement of the highest political level in a process of combining selected bits of texts prepared within the UN regime and in fora outside the UN realm.

The EU was prominently represented in all these arenas and at multiple levels, mostly through the Climate Troika, but also through key countries. Although a logistical challenge – given the number of ← 225 | 226 →meetings held notably in 2009 – the Union thus made adequate use of its ample diplomatic resources. The internal coordination between different actors involved in the various fora, however, did not always function smoothly (Interviews EU representatives 8, 10). In fora outside of the UN, the EU attempted to influence talks through the promotion of its overall position without, however, taking any specific initiatives. Notable exceptions existed only when EU members held the G-8 Presidency (in parallel to the EU Presidency), as in 2005 (the UK) and 2007 (Germany). In both cases, the presidencies undertook – in close coordination with the rest of the EU – significant attempts to engage other major emitters: the US and the emerging powers through the G8+5 Gleneagles Dialogue from 2005 on, and the US specifically at the summit in Heiligendamm in 2007 with regard to the 50% reduction goal by 2050. Mostly, however, the EU’s participation in fora outside the UN was a reaction to invitations from other parties (e.g. the MEF as a US initiative). More important than the participation in these fora was arguably its increased bilateral diplomatic activity. Although the process-trace could highlight only the most significant examples of these efforts, the EU appeared as more energetic in the promotion of exchanges with third countries or other world regions than in the past. While many of these took primarily the form of exchanges of positions aimed at trust-building and promoting mutual understanding, some bilaterals also went further (Interviews EU representatives 8, 10). As briefly discussed for the period 2005 to 2007 (see Chapter 4), the Union applied specific strategies with regard to a limited number of countries. Vis-à-vis the emerging powers China and India (and later: Brazil and South Africa), identified as crucial for global (climate) politics, concrete cooperation projects were initiated.57 In its relations with the LDCs, examples of practical cooperation based on economic and other aid were alluded to in the process analysis (e.g. during COP 14). These concrete approaches all served one overarching aim: promoting the Union’s objective of concluding a comprehensive global climate treaty (Interviews EU representatives 12, 22, 10). Although the EU thus defended its overarching positions in many arenas of global climate policy and through many channels, key influence attempts were targeted, as in the past, at the UN negotiation process. They would come in the form of positions expressed through Environment and European ← 226 | 227 →Council conclusions, internal legislation, written submissions to the UN and the oral defence of positions in the AWGs, COPs or MOPs and through the media. To further analyse the logic of the EU’s approach, several key influence attempts linked to the UN talks can be identified:

1.MARCH 2007: Following the January 2007 Commission proposal, the European Council determines the EU’s position for the post-2012 process. The EU attempts to affirm its leadership ambition even before the official start of reform talks through a unilateral 20% reduction offer, linked to the conditional 30% offer that it hoped to employ as leverage.

2.AFTER COP 13 (January/March 2008): In January, the Commission publishes its proposal for a climate and energy package, which the Spring European Council endorses. Right after the Bali COP, the EU thus reconfirms and strengthens its commitment for the post-2012 process. Even if it would take the entire year to adopt legislation, the proposals sent clear signals to the outside world about the Union’s seriousness and approach. They would form the backbone of its communication strategy and be dispersed via submissions to the UN.

3.COP 14 (December 2008): Although not a major influence attempt, the content and timing of the EU’s commitment to invest into renewable energy projects in Africa announced in Poznan stands emblematically for its attempts to rally parties behind its position.

4.AFTER COP 14 (January 2009): Through the Commission communication “Towards a comprehensive climate agreement in Copenhagen”, the EU attempts to set the agenda on the crucial topic of finance by identifying crunch issues and possible solutions (fast-start finance, quantification of overall amount of finance required, sources). The proposals would be concretized in the autumn of 2009. Although member states would not finalize the concrete finance position until COP 15, the Union used its general proposals as basis for appeals to other countries, notably the US and China, to reveal and/or increase their ambitions.

5.COP 15 (December 2009): As first Annex I party, the EU reveals its proposal for fast-start finance and recalls its commitment to contribute a “fair share” to an overall amount of € 22–50bn funding by 2020.

Although each of these influence attempts merits recognition by itself, emphasis will be placed on the central proposal, the 20/30% reduction demand and offer, before moving on to discuss the overall picture that emerges in light of the story, which allows for the further extraction of patterns concerning the EU’s broader foreign policy approach.

← 227 | 228 →Regarding the Union’s conditional target offer, the approach chosen for this negotiation round displayed a certain parallel to the 1997 target proposal: at that time, 15% reductions were publicly promised as the target the EU would adopt (and that it demanded from other industrialized countries), while the internal burden-sharing covered only 10% of these efforts, which signalled to a certain extent the bargaining character of the position. In 2007, the EU applied the more cautious version of the very same construction, proposing only what it had agreed to internally (20%), but demanding nonetheless 30% from others. From a foreign policy (and here notably a bargaining) perspective, the two approaches had different virtues: while the former could (and did) help the EU to pull other major emitters (the US, Japan) towards the higher end of the proposed targets, the conditional offer for the post-2012 talks did not give the EU any leverage over other parties because, as the Swedish Prime Minister had to realize right after the conclusion of the Copenhagen Accord: “We have not been chased (…) to go to 30%”. In other words, parties completely neglected the Union’s 30% offer.

Diverging from its strategy in past talks, the Union relied not only on formal diplomatic tools, but combined these with economic foreign policy instruments, partially in the UN regime (as finance became such a key issue in the talks), but also outside of it. From an analytical perspective, the Union complemented thus its still predominant problem-solving approach (in the language of the WEIS coding scheme: “to make proposals”) by “offering and or granting economic rewards”, coupled to concrete demands (Smith 2003: 52–68; Wilkenfeld et al. 1980). This also meant that its influence attempts were not only, as mostly in the past, structure-focused (targeting regime structures), but also actor-focused (targeting other actors’ behaviour, preferences). Furthermore, the central strategy of the past, the positing of politically strong and (with regard to the targets) ambitious positions to “lead by example”, was explicitly strengthened and expanded through a legal and economic approach. Internal legislation was developed not only to underscore the EU’s seriousness with regard to mitigation, but also with the express purpose of utilizing them to exert influence at the global level, since many of its new policies comprised specific external dimensions.

Most prominent in this regard was certainly the notion of a global carbon market, for which the ETS could be the “prototype” (van Schaik/van Hecke 2008: 17), and “linkage” to which the EU intended to employ “as political leverage”, essentially vis-à-vis other developed countries (Benwell 2009: 105). The US was approached with a strategy that highlighted that climate change was manageable without economic losses, possibly even with gains (using the ETS and own legislation as references) (Interviews EU representatives 26, 12). Other industrialized countries were asked to ← 228 | 229 →follow the EU’s model internally to increase their mitigation ambitions and to cooperate toward setting up joint carbon emissions schemes.58 Vis-à-vis LDCs, the market also played a key role in the Union’s finance proposals regarding aids for adaptation and mitigation measures. Numerous other concepts that it introduced into the international negotiations also originated from internal policies: the EU’s “effort-sharing” was essentially based on Commission proposals around the principles of “fairness and solidarity”, taking into account, inter alia, GDP/capita (Vogler 2008). Even if derogations were allowed in the end for some member states in the EU’s internal deal, it advanced its criteria-based approach as an example of how common but differentiated responsibilities could be practically implemented internationally (E3G 2009: 4). Similarly, other proposals introduced during the UN talks would include combined indicator-based approaches that intended to balance out different interests by taking into account varying national circumstances (Swedish Presidency 2009). For instance, to assess the comparability of other parties’ efforts that would have allowed the EU to move to a 30% reduction under a future global climate agreement, the criteria it proposed were: ability to pay (GDP/capita), reduction potential (GHG emissions/GDP), population trends and domestic early action (European Commission 2009i: section 3.1; Council 2009b). Beyond ideas stemming from internal legislation, the EU would also make other, often technical proposals in an effort to promote problem-solving in the global talks. In AWG debates, it made a range of advances to rationalize negotiations or to occupy the middle-ground between the G-77/China and the Umbrella Group. A key example of this would be its attempt to combine bottom up pledges for mitigation targets (preferred by Annex I parties) and compare them to top-down numbers proposed by IPCC science (favoured by the G-77/China).

What the analysis of the Union’s influence attempts during the analysed time period ultimately boils down to is a reproduction of previous patterns, subjected to a few significant adaptations:

1. an update of its traditional proactive leadership approach: ambitious, early target proposals exploiting, in the Commission’s view, “The Power of Example” (Runge-Metzger 2008) were now backed up by internal legislation and linked to conditionality, with an attempt to employ the 30% proposal as leverage over other industrialized countries and to appeal to others on the basis of scientific benchmarks (25–40% for developed countries, 15–30% deviation from BAU for major developing countries); 2. continued rational argumentation aimed at problem-solving through ← 229 | 230 →concrete technical and policy solutions, often targeted at reconciling other parties’ diverging positions, and now based on a cost-effective, managerial rather than a policy and measures approach, which tried to use the ETS as an incentivizing (model) and/or coercive (club good) foreign policy tool; 3. new forms of alliance-building with bilateral partnerships on the basis of economic and technological incentives; 4. broader diplomatic outreach to disperse its messages more widely, corroborating its arguing strategy.

With this combination of a diplomatic and a managerial approach, the Union was arguably able to ensure a role in agenda-setting in the UN process. It did not, however, render itself independent of its long-standing overreliance on the quality and timing of proposals. As in the past, the leadership approach was based on the premise that the EU could posit its (ideal) position and that other major players were either already on the same wavelength regarding the desirability of a legally binding post-2012 agreement centred on market instruments, or prepared to follow the EU at a later stage. This belief was largely unwarranted. The story also reveals, however, other “blind spots” and trade-offs of the EU’s influencing strategy. Given their potential significance when it comes to explaining its actual impact on these talks, they require closer inspection. The most evident downside of “frontloading” detailed propositions was a limited room for manoeuvre towards the end of the negotiations. Inflexibility during the final stages in the process was further increased through the high-­levelization of talks. Their move from the negotiators’ to the heads of state level meant that the EU had to coordinate ad hoc among non-­experts, which impaired decision-making and outreach. This was especially the case because the coordination between negotiators and the foreign policy community and cabinets of heads of state was unprecedented and, thus, regularly insufficient (Interviews EU representatives 8, 10). The same problem occurred also with the increased overall EU outreach: information was not always shared coherently so that negotiators in the UN process and EU representatives in other processes did not consistently possess the same type and/or degree of insights into the ongoing talks at different levels (Interviews EU representatives 22, 8, 10).59 Partially as a result of this, the EU also had difficulties in adapting its negotiation position and strategy to the evolving negotiation processes. Shortly before Copenhagen, issues that had been pending for months remained unresolved. On finance, the absence of a common position was disguised as a strategic move of “backloading” for the final bargaining session. This led to incoherence in its approach that arguably weakened its position← 230 | 231 → in Copenhagen (Interview EU representative 22; Observation notes Dec. 2009). The question of when and under what conditions to move to 30% reductions equally remained unanswered. Further, the EU continued to negotiate on the assumption that the outcome of COP 15 would be legally binding, although this had de facto been discarded by APEC.

These three examples also form a pattern choosing to live with its own ambiguities, the EU left crucial decisions more than once to ad hoc coordination on the spot (e.g. the European Council informals at COP 15) or, oftentimes, to parallel meetings in Brussels (e.g. during the Poznan COP). Where an absence of fall-back positions and preparation of alternative scenarios to the one it envisaged further impaired its adaptive capacity, the parallelism of talks in the UN climate regime and in Brussels confused negotiation partners and EU negotiators alike.

The EU’s Influence in the Post-2012 Climate Negotiations until 2009

To determine the EU’s influence in the talks leading to the Copenhagen Accord, and thus answer research question 2 for this time period, it is now necessary to zoom in on the main turning points on the two analysed issues (mitigation targets, differentiation). The process-trace provided not only a comprehensive overview of the EU’s influence attempts during this time period, but also a detailed reconstruction of the talks on the selected core issues. In this regard, it represents also the documentation of a failure: the climate negotiations between 2007 and 2009 inside and outside the UN had remained, for an exorbitantly long time, stuck in a positioning and loose formula-building phase. Within the UN, virtually no options were eliminated from draft texts before the final COP. A few trend-setting decisions were, however, taken by smaller groups of major players outside the UN and would later feed into the AWG talks. Nonetheless, crucial decisions were “backloaded” so that real detailing began only in Copenhagen. This implies (i) that the story of the post-2012 negotiations did not contain many evident turning points, and (ii) that the ones that can be identified primarily occurred outside UN fora. On the two analysed issues together, which – as core pillars of the climate regime – would become crunch issues of the talks, the narrative reveals a total of four major turning points. As during the Kyoto Protocol negotiations, a first turning point on both analysed issues could be observed early in the process at the agenda-setting COP 13/MOP 3 in Bali. A second turning point with regard to the issue of targets occurred then outside the UN process in July 2009 when the G-8 and the MEF met in L’Aquila and major emitters would rally behind the 2°C stabilization target. Thirdly, when negotiations steered towards failure because central players (US, ← 231 | 232 →China, India) hesitated to disclose elements of their position (notably on mitigation), the APEC summit of mid-­November 2009 clarified that the outcome of COP 15/MOP 5 would by no means be legally binding, clearing the way for last-minute target pledges and moving negotiations into the detailing phase. finally, talks held at the highest political level in a small group of parties on the last official day of COP 15 represented arguably the major turning point regarding ultimate decisions on both key issues analysed here. Focusing on these four turning points allows for determining if, how and to what extent the EU was influential in the post-2012 talks until 2009. Central for the final outcome was certainly the last turning point, as it superseded previous decisions. Nonetheless, as the post-2012 talks did not end with COP 15, all turning points would potentially remain of importance.

Where the 1995 Berlin Mandate had set the agenda for talks leading to the Kyoto Protocol, the Bali Roadmap provided steering for the post-2012 negotiations. Yet, while the former had de facto eliminated already some options from the negotiations (notably regarding differentiation between groups of parties), the latter identified mostly broad topics (“building blocks”) that talks were to focus on. Nonetheless, crucial concepts were pre-defined in Bali, which, in retrospect, set the post-2012 negotiations on certain rails which ran right into the Copenhagen Accord. For that reason, COP 13 marked a first significant turning point on both key issues. On the issue of differentiation, the Bali Roadmap arguably provided a first step toward overcoming the “wall” separating Annex I and (major) non-Annex I parties in terms of their respective obligations in the regime. The notion of “NAMAs” provided the necessary, sufficiently broad concept for major developing countries to accept further talks about own mitigation efforts and also brought the US, effectively disengaged since 2001, back to the negotiation table. While the EU arguably attained its (intermediate) aims of engaging both the US and the BASIC in systematic negotiations on their future contributions to the climate regime with the Roadmap (goal attainment), it had not been the first and most vocal player to demand the reform of the differentiation enshrined in the CBDR principle and in the Kyoto Protocol. The revision of the Annex I/non-Annex I divide had been a long-standing US and Umbrella Group request, which the EU had only – certainly purposively and very actively – articulated from the 2000s on (purposive behaviour, interaction). This observation already excludes the fulfilment of one other condition (absence of temporal sequence). A check of the negative pole of the concept (test on absence of auto-causation) then reveals that the EU did indeed not exert any significant influence on the item of differentiation as the central component of the Roadmap. Asked in counterfactual manner, did the EU effectively alter other key players’ behaviour on this issue and at ← 232 | 233 →this point in time, notably that of the major emitters that had resisted the kick-off of a new negotiation process in the years before, i.e. essentially the US, China and India? And had the EU not been as active in calling for a post-2012 regime reform, including the overcoming of the Annex I/non-Annex I divide, would these players have behaved differently? On the basis of the analysis of the general global context and domestic developments of the year 2007, the answer to these questions must be negative. In the US, the George W. Bush administration’s previous positions on climate change had become domestically untenable under the impression of the fourth IPCC report. It was therefore prepared to subscribe to a new negotiation process, provided it could ensure the fulfilment of its long-standing sine qua non condition of engaging major emerging countries in serious talks about emission reduction efforts (Ochs 2008: 4). This interpretation is supported by the change of course the US delegation made during the final COP plenary which adopted the Bali Action Plan. After having refused to accept a formula that could have meant an unbalanced approach in favour of the developing countries at first, it later joined consensus when obtaining further assurances from the emerging economies. The latter, essentially China and India, as the discussion of their domestic circumstances revealed, were already experiencing problems resulting from climate change and beginning to undertake domestic actions anyway, i.e. whether there was an international regime reform process or not (Ochs 2008: 3). For them, it was therefore possible to bow to external pressure – from, ever since 1995, the US and the Umbrella Group, but later also from the EU – and agree to talks on something as diffuse as NAMAs. In conclusion, as the most vocal and pushy agenda-setter, the Union certainly contributed to an existing overall “wind of change” during the year 2007, helping to build political momentum for discussing the start of a new negotiation process in Bali, as argued in Chapter 4. Yet, EU influence on this crucial, but intermediate outcome regarding a possible re-interpretation of the CBDR principle was not discernible.

As far as the talks on the concrete issue of the magnitude of mitigation targets were concerned, a clear link was established under both tracks between future target discussions and/or NAMAs on the one hand and climate science as reported by the IPCC on the other. As seen, the reference to the IPCC scenarios (with the 25–40% emissions reduction range for industrialized countries associated with temperature rise of max. 2°C) was directly (AWG-KP) or indirectly (AWG-LCA) referred to in the documents composing the Bali Roadmap. On this item, the EU did exert influence. firstly, it largely, albeit not completely (given the weakened outcome under the LCA), achieved its aims (goal attainment) (Interviews EU representatives 20, 27, 22; Observers 3, 19, 25). It had been the first major industrialized party to embrace the scientific findings of the IPCC in its ← 233 | 234 →positions, ever since the 1990s (temporal sequence). Its science-­inspired positions were repeatedly defended through often proactive outreach activities in 2007, which had prepared grounds for what would later happen in Bali (purposive behaviour, interaction). On this basis, and in coalition with many developing countries (notably AOSIS), the Union successfully managed to alter the behaviour of previously very reluctant industrialized countries (Canada, Russia) under the Kyoto Protocol track (test on absence of auto-causation). In the debates under what would become the AWG-LCA, resistance to the EU and G-77/China proposals in Bali was more fierce, however, including also the US and Japan. The Union therefore had to concede a substantial weakening of the reference to the science in the final decision. Even as a footnote, the reference would, however, remain on the negotiation table for future talks. In sum, by exerting influence on the link between IPCC science and the mitigation target negotiations in both arenas, the EU contributed to heightening the chances that the post-2012 reform process would be guided by climate science, and impacted thus on the talks leading to the Copenhagen Accord. The diverse contexts under the two tracks illustrate, however, the limits to the EU’s impact: in the face of US-led opposition, its influence was considerably restrained. Beyond these two issues, the overall approach of the Bali Roadmap, although it did not preclude any outcomes, largely reflected earlier EU ideas on the process expressed in the second half of 2007. In a similar vein, the Union would become an important agenda-setter on various items beyond those focused on here through its proactive, problem-­solving approach in the post-2012 negotiations. Its positions would, however, not necessarily find their way into final decisions.

A second key turning point, exclusively with regard to the issue of emission reduction targets, occurred in mid-2009 outside the UN climate regime. While the Bali Roadmap had only (weakly) indicated reduction ranges for industrialized countries, talks on shared vision and mitigation under the AWG-LCA would remain inconclusive regarding clear emissions reductions paths and targets until the very end of the negotiation process. In July 2009, industrialized countries gathered for the G-8 summit in L’Acquila would then “recognise the broad scientific view that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed 2°C” (G-8 2009b: point 65). They would be joined by other key global economies when the Major Economies Forum endorsed the same formula a day later. This outcome represented a major achievement for the EU (goal attainment), which had actively built its position and outreach around the 2°C target from the mid-1990s on, and further used it to justify its submissions on emission reduction ranges after the IPCC’s FAR (temporal sequence, purposive behaviour, interaction). Would the other players have adopted this objective without the EU pushing for it (test on ← 234 | 235 →absence of auto-causation)? The answer is two-fold. At that stage in the process, after lengthy debates about a shared vision of the future regime in the AWG-LCA, many options had been pondered and other industrialized parties seemed – judged by their submissions to the UN – convinced that a numerical target would be beneficial to advance negotiations. The fact that the choice made by key Annex I parties in the G-8 fell on the 2°C formula (and not on another temperature, an objective expressed in ppm or in percentage cuts) can be attributed to the EU’s repeated lobbying for this target. In the past, e.g. at the 2007 G-8 summit in Heiligendamm, the Union had already – via key member states – successfully convinced major industrialized players of similar targets (at that time, the US subscribed to 50% cuts by 2050, arguably also under the impression of the fourth IPCC report). To also persuade the emerging countries in L’Aquila, the dramaturgy of the two-part meeting certainly helped: the MEF met after the industrialized countries had endorsed the 2°C target. Together, the G-8 members could convince the emerging economies to also accept this aim. Indirectly, the EU was thus also the key influence-wielder when it came to changing the latter countries’ previous preferences for not stating such a goal. If the adoption of the 2°C goal, which would later become part of the Copenhagen Accord, represented an instance of EU influence, the question regarding the significance of this achievement needs nonetheless to be raised. A temperature range by itself does not have much effect if it is not associated to either a stabilization target expressed in ppm or a reduction aim expressed in percentages. The IPCC’s FAR provides for linkages between temperature scenarios and reduction prescriptions, and references to it were made under the Bali Roadmap. In that sense, the affirmation of the target could (have) become significant under the UN negotiation process (Mrusek 2009). Its importance would, ultimately, largely depend on a shared understanding of its nature, however. Here, UN talks testified to deep differences between those parties who interpreted the temperature goal as “aspirational” (e.g. India, Russia) and other parties, like the EU, who wanted to translate it into concrete targets and measures. Similar problems of interpretation would arise after the conclusion of the Copenhagen Accord, and are taken up in the discussion of turning point 4.

The third turning point in the post-2012 negotiations could be observed only a few weeks before the Copenhagen summit. At the final AWG preparatory meeting in Barcelona, major parties had refused to disclose key elements of their positions, let alone to engage in compromising. As a result, although not everyone would publicly acknowledge it, key players began to realize that COP 15 could not lead to a legally binding, comprehensive agreement. Nonetheless, the most vulnerable countries (AOSIS, LDCs), but also the EU, still appeared to desire keeping up the pressure for a more ambitious outcome. Their efforts would be rendered futile ← 235 | 236 →when negotiations were catapulted into a new phase at the APEC summit in mid-November 2009. The summit marked a major turning point in two regards: it not only pre-determined the form of the Copenhagen outcome (and thus of both the form of the core norm of a target and of the type of differentiation adopted with this outcome), but also triggered a process during which parties would finally release missing components of their positions, notably relating to the issue of emission reduction targets.

When the APEC country leaders gathered in Singapore, they jointly called for the adoption of a “politically binding” agreement at the Copenhagen summit, followed by a legally binding outcome at a later stage. The process analysis highlighted the role of the Danish Presidency on this occasion. Following Prime Minister Lokke Rasmussen’s preference for searching for pragmatic solutions in small-scale meetings of major parties, the Danish proposals had been geared toward the preferences of, notably, the US, which was domestically unprepared for concluding a legally binding international agreement. Not surprisingly, US representatives immediately embraced the Danish suggestions, creating – together with the other major Pacific countries – a fait accompli that other players involved in the UN negotiations, including the EU, simply had to accept. From this point on, legally binding emissions reduction targets were thus de facto excluded for COP 15. It goes without saying that the Union could not and did not exert influence on this crucial decision. Before having the major Asia-Pacific players decide on its proposal, the Danish Presidency (after all an EU member state) had apparently not even consulted with the rest of the Union (Interviews EU representatives 22, 10). Although the formal proposal came from the Danish, US influence over all other parties to the UNFCCC at this turning point was undeniable. Since the beginning of the year 2009 (and in actual fact ever since the Bali COP), many US actors, from the administration over Congress to the ENGOs and think tanks (such as the renowned Pew Center for Climate Change) had argued that the US would domestically not be “ready” by COP 15. This message turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. Yet, the US did not have to exert much pressure, finding natural coalition partners in the emerging economies, notably China and India, which were equally reluctant to agreeing to anything legally binding at that stage. While the APEC decision thus buried hopes for a legally binding outcome, it also had a positive effect on the negotiations: liberated from the “burden of bindingness” and extremely high public expectations, key parties began to reveal missing parts of their positions, especially on mitigation targets and finance. In this process of gradual disclosure of positions between mid-November and the Copenhagen summit, limited EU influence could be detected. Already beforehand, the Union’s active promotion of its long-standing unilateral mitigation ← 236 | 237 →pledge and its clearly formulated expectations to other groups of countries (30% from developed countries, 15–30% deviation from BAU from developing countries) had provoked reactions. As seen in the story, the EU’s model, including the management approach centred around emissions trading, had deliberately been followed by Australia in late 2008 (Wong 2008). Arguably, the improved –25% target proposal by Japan of August 2009 – which implied that the Union was not the most ambitious industrialized actor any more – was also facilitated by EU target promises. After the APEC summit, many other countries would disclose their targets: Brazil, South Korea, Russia and, finally, the US, China and India. While the APEC summit, but also traditional negotiation tactics of “backloading” had determined the timing of those pledges, the EU arguably influenced the magnitude of some of the proposals. On all occasions, the three conditions purposive behaviour, temporal sequence and interaction were fulfilled (the EU was the first to make proposals, used its “leading-by-example” approach explicitly as a foreign policy strategy), and its goals partially attained (the emerging countries, Japan and Russia lay within the emission reduction ranges prescribed by the EU). The question needs, however, again to be posed whether any of these countries would have acted in the same way without the Union’s proactive, demanding approach? The answer needs nuancing: it is unlikely that Australia would have chosen for the exact same modalities (conditional offer, emissions trading) (Wong 2008; Interview EU representative 22). Moreover, Japan or Russia would most probably not have proposed targets of this magnitude in the absence of EU activity, with Russia even publicly acknowledging to having aligned itself with the Union (absence of auto-causation) (Spencer et al. 2010: 3). By contrast, it is difficult to assume any EU leverage on major developing country pledges: the EU’s proposals for emerging country emissions reductions in the 15–30% range compared to business-­as-usual may have served as a benchmark, but this cannot convincingly be affirmed. The fact that the EU had some limited impact on the decisions of major Annex I parties is not to insinuate that it was the only cause of these countries’ decisions. Yet, it was certainly a key contributing factor in the overall mitigation debate. This reasoning could even be extended to the US, where more progressive forces used the Union (its approach, rather than level of ambition) as an example, at least in early 2009, as the brief discussion of the EU’s outreach in Washington, DC, demonstrated (Egenhofer 2010: 167; Interviews EU representatives 30, 26, Observer 23). Nonetheless, like in the case of China and India, where the former’s pledge had strongly informed the latter’s, domestic factors and the reception of scientific knowledge were certainly predominant in the determination of the US position. In essence, the EU therefore exerted (albeit limited) influence ← 237 | 238 →over the important debate on the magnitude of the target pledges – with repercussions in some Annex I countries, but not so much in the US and the BASIC countries – which would later become unaltered pledges in the Copenhagen Accord. One cannot help but notice parallels between the post-2012 and the Kyoto Protocol negotiations in this regard.60 While the EU had leverage over the magnitude of the emission targets adopted in 1997, it failed to influence the key structures of the Protocol. Twelve years later, limited influence over the target ambitions, facilitated by other factors (e.g. IPCC report), was observable, but the modalities of the agreement (e.g. regarding the binding character of those targets) seemed even more out of the Union’s control, due in part to an increasing delocalisation of the negotiations out of the UN regime and into smaller bodies in the Asia-Pacific.

The fourth, and for the final outcome of the analysed negotiation process most significant turning point was detected at the end of COP 15/MOP 5. No key issues had been resolved in the official meetings of the AWGs so decisions had to be taken at heads of state level. In the Friends of the Chair group, the text developed by the Danish Presidency since the autumn of 2009 was combined with formulas that had first emerged in the G-8 or MEF meetings and items from the AWGs’ negotiating texts. The turning point concerned both analysed key issues, coupled to two other major topics, which were all inter-linked in a package deal involving differentiated targets/actions for Annex I and non-Annex I parties, MRV provisions and finance. Due to their intertwinement, EU influence on each of those items needs to be assessed.

On mitigation, the key overarching provision of the Copenhagen Accord was the recognition of the view that stabilization at 2°C should be pursued, which was coupled to a reference to the IPCC’s FAR (para. 1, 2 CA).61 For the rest, major indicative target ranges expressed in percentages (e.g. 50% for all countries by 2050, 80% for industrialized countries by 2050), dear to the EU, were dropped at the last minute on the insistence of China and the other BASIC countries. On this key pillar of the climate regime, the EU exerted thus only limited influence. The inclusion of the 2°C aim in the Accord represented a confirmation – and thus an indirect result – of the EU’s successful influence-wielding at the G-8 and MEFin L’Aquila in July 2009 (turning point 2). Moreover, the Union had been responsible for the reference to the IPCC science, which had first ← 238 | 239 →been mentioned in the Bali Roadmap and was integrated in all negotiating texts ever since COP 13/MOP 3, on the EU’s and the G-77/China’s joint insistence (turning point 1). Yet, the weak formulations of the reference implied that the 2°C aim continued to be essentially unrelated to any emission reduction target ranges, which considerably relativized this achievement, at least in the short term. finally, as observed for turning point 3, the EU also exerted limited influence on the magnitude of some other countries’ mitigation pledges, which would be confirmed by those countries when they made their submissions under the Accord in January 2010. Obviously, the fact that non-delivery on those pledges could never be sanctioned under the Accord considerably weakened the significance of this successful instance of influence-wielding. In essence, if the Accord reflected some, albeit limited degree of EU influence over the key norm of the regime (emission reduction target), the Union did not achieve this outcome at Copenhagen, but through previous decisions taken in non-UN bodies that the world’s leaders had referred back to when making the deal in the Danish capital.

Differentiation between Annex I and non-Annex I countries de ­facto remained part of the climate regime with the Copenhagen Accord, both in the types of mitigation commitments and in their verification. Nonetheless, all major emitters were reunited under one single agreement. With this, the EU partially reached one of its aims, but not as a result of its own influence. As argued for turning point 1, it had been clear since its failed Kyoto Protocol ratification that the US would not have committed to any, even voluntary measures without the major developing countries doing their share, and vice-versa. The final outcome represented thus a compromise between the US and the BASIC countries, notably China. It was this compromise that also led to the elimination of the target references for mid-century, on the insistence of the emerging countries, and against the explicit will of the EU.

Closely linked to this, the issue of finance, which had provided the enabling condition for many developing countries to accept own mitigation actions, marked probably the strongest instance of EU influence at this final turning point. The notion of “fast-start finance” had emerged from EU proposals put forward by the Commission in early 2009, as highlighted in the narrative, and later taken over in the Danish proposals and their consultations, for instance with the Commonwealth countries right before Copenhagen. Also, the magnitude of these short-term financial provisions adopted in the Copenhagen Accord had been influenced by EU positions, as the Union had been the first to make a public, quantified pledge during the first week of COP 15, with the explicit aim of convincing the developing countries to join a larger agreement (purposive behaviour, temporal sequence, interaction). On the magnitude of long-term ← 239 | 240 →finance, the EU had taken up and increased earlier proposals of 100bn USD, discussed in the first half of 2009 in the MEF, by suggesting to raise 100bn € by 2020 (purposive behaviour, temporal sequence). The positive response of the African Group to the proposals of 10bn USD per year in 2010–2012 and 100bn USD by 2020 during the last days of COP 15, enabled through a close coordination between France, the UK and the African Group Chair Ethiopia (interaction), would clear the way for an agreement of the majority of smaller and poorer G-77/China members to the final agreement. With its proposals and proactive behaviour on both short- and long-term finance, the EU could have thus exerted influence over these items. The fact that the numbers it proposed would also find their way into the Accord regarding both time horizons further implies that the Union reached its aims (goal attainment). The question needs to be posed, however, whether other actors would have behaved differently without the EU’s interventions on this item (test on absence of auto-causation). The fact that money would become an important factor for reaching agreement was certainly acknowledged by all major players. Yet, the precise amount of the finance provisions ultimately adopted with the Copenhagen Accord must at least in part be attributed to the Union’s activities: it changed the previous behaviour of the US and other Annex I countries (who had remained mostly silent on this agenda item until the last days of COP 15) as well as of the African Group (as the most vocal solicitor of funds among the G-77/China, with previous demands far above those finally agreed to). All in all, the EU certainly did exert influence over the concept of short-term financing and the magnitude of both short- and long-term finance. Yet, finance was not an end in itself for the Union. It wanted to use it as leverage and “sweetener” for developing countries to support its desired comprehensive, legally binding outcome. This did not work out: while the EU attained its aim with regard to the finance issue in itself, it received no meaningful commitments in return. Ironically, it actually strongly contributed to “buying” developing countries into an agreement that it had itself difficulties accepting.

In conclusion, the EU’s overall influence on the key pillars of the Copenhagen Accord was low. While a leverage over the 2°C target is non-negligible, the immediate “‘success’ of having a 2°C target referenced in the Accord seems somewhat irrelevant” considering that with the reduction pledges in early 2010, “the world is headed for a global warming of 3.5°C by 2100” (Curtin 2010: 6). In this perspective, the EU’s limited leverage over the magnitude of some countries’ targets equally appears as insufficient. Moreover, even if its influence over the finance provisions was probably indispensable for getting to an agreement, it did not yield impact on the main components of the regime. This latter observation leads to an important consideration, however, namely ← 240 | 241 →the question of whether the EU was actually crucial to getting an agreement at all. The number of instances on which the Union had set the agenda during this negotiation process might point in this direction. The EU was the most proactive and demanding industrialized actor. It invested considerable resources into this negotiation process and, from a very broad perspective, also attained its aims: an agreement which involves the US and the major developing countries into (some form of) global mitigation efforts (purposive behaviour, interaction, temporal sequence, goal attainment) (Interviews EU representatives 8, 10, 16). In this sense, the EU could have indeed exerted influence over the overall outcome, ­albeit not its specifics. But even this is uncertain. A counterfactual analysis reveals that many other factors may have played a role: climate science and media attention, the change in US government, with an administration that had become more interested in a global agreement on this issue, an overture of the major developing countries responding to the US. While the EU contributed to the fact that there was “something to agree to” in Copenhagen, claiming that without the Union there would have been no such agreement would be overstretching the interpretation of the ­evidence (test on absence of auto-causation: negative).

Synthesizing the findings of the preceding section allows for determining the Union’s overall influence on the development of the global climate regime during the analysed period. Regarding emission reduction targets, the analysis revealed that the EU had limited leverage over the magnitude of targets in a few countries, but not in others. Further, it had very little influence on the approach taken to the targets: its own preferences of science-oriented, relatively high legally binding targets arguably provided a benchmark for many parties in the negotiations, but was not retained in the Copenhagen Accord. The only substantial item of importance in terms of a key pillar of the regime on which the EU did exert influence was the 2°C target, mentioned in the Accord, but with the discussed limits. Concerning the issue of differentiation, no influence was discerned. finally, one can claim that the EU contributed to the overall result of concluding an(y) agreement, not so much through its general approach, but through rallying developing countries behind the aim of sealing a deal through its finance proposals. In that sense, the EU co-prepared the soil for an agreement. This would never have seen the light of day without many factors being reunited, however, above all new scientific findings, but also internal developments, notably in the US and some other key countries. As a result, and despite instances of EU influence on one key pillar of the regime and indications of impact on agenda-setting during the early stages of the talks (Purvis/Stevenson 2010), the Union’s overall influence has to be evaluated as very low because it did not attain its aims on the assessed items (legally binding QELROs and ← 241 | 242 →NAMAs) and in general (one single legal instrument based on the KP) (very limited extent of goal-attainment). Moreover, the outcome was as voluntary as could be imagined (very low degree of durability). The assessment of EU influence as very low at the critical juncture of COP 15 is confirmed not only by many observers’ commentaries on the post-2012 negotiations (Egenhofer/Georgiev 2009; Curtin 2010; Purvis/Stevenson 2010; Spencer et al. 2010), but also by reputation analysis with EU and non-EU negotiators at different levels. Commission President Barroso’s view of the talks was that “it is true that others were much more influential when it was about reducing the ambitions” (EU Press Conference 19 Dec. 2009). The Swedish Environment Minister called the outcome a “disaster” for the EU (Pawlak 2009) and the AWG-KP lead negotiator from the Commission referred to the EU as the “unpopular class goody-goody” of the climate talks (Agence Europe 2010: 24). Other negotiators highlighted EU influence on agenda-setting and the fact that it did attain its minimum objectives (a basic, potentially science-guided agreement with all major emitters on board), but acknowledged that the outcome fell way short of its broader expectations, indicating a clear lack of influence (Interviews EU representatives 22, 8, 10). The same tenor came from outside of Europe (Reuters 2010; Interview US representative 2).

Having determined the extent of the EU’s influence, further analytical operations can help to specify the type of influence exerted by the Union regarding both the time horizon and the underlying logic of its impact. Other than during the Kyoto Protocol negotiations, the EU’s influence attempts were targeted at the medium to long term. Relying on a science-based argumentation strategy coupled to economic incentives (ETS, partnerships, finance proposals) and timid allusions to coercive instruments (ETS, border adjustment taxes), the Union expressed a clear vision of the future shape of the climate regime, specifically with regard to its key components: ambitious mid- and long-term targets and pathways for getting to those target (a regulatory approach centred on market instruments). Although its position contained more potential “give and take” through its economic instruments than in previous negotiation rounds, the continued absence of bottom lines rendered bargaining very difficult. It was further complicated by the fact that clashes of positions necessitating bargaining were held back collectively by the parties until the very last moment. At this crucial moment in Copenhagen, as the narrative indicated, the Union was effectively sidelined by other major parties (US, the BASIC group). Its offers lined up for bargaining (essentially the finance proposals and the 30% reduction offer) were gratefully accepted (finance) or neglected (30% target) by other parties, but stood in no real relation to a concrete service in return to the EU. By consequence, one cannot conclude that the Union’s influence was bargaining-based. ← 242 | 243 →Rather, on the few items on which the EU did exert influence (the link between the objective of Art. 2 UNFCCC and the 2°C target, magnitude of targets in some countries, finance), this influence was, if anything, argumentation-based. Influence attempts involving arguing based on the science or economic rationales had convinced other parties to adhere to what originally were ideas promoted by the EU. Further, although its influence was low, it was, contrary to the Kyoto process, potentially enduring and surely incidental. The EU had the described limited leverage over the potentially – in the long run – significant 2°C objective, which might form the nucleus of a future science-based regime. On the finance proposals, its influence was only incidental, contributing to start-up finance and the conclusion of an “immediately operational” deal. Altogether, it did not, however, as it had desired, achieve an enduring reform of the climate regime on the whole.

By way of comparison, and to set the EU’s influence into a broader context, it is interesting to briefly reflect on the other major players’ influence in this negotiation process, focusing on the US and the emerging countries. The US had already determined the regulatory approach of the Kyoto Protocol, which dominates debates until the present. Reproducing past patterns, it also exerted influence over the voluntary “pledge and review” approach of the Copenhagen Accord. Right down to the title of this document (“Accord”), it effectively created structures (or prevented the creation of alternative structures) by uploading its own preferred policy approach to the global level. This approach had already been inherent in the proposal for an “implementing agreement” of May 2009 and reflected exclusively domestic institutional necessities. Besides attaining the objective of having loose medium-term commitments anchored only in domestic rather than in international law, it also achieved its long-standing aim of engaging major non-Annex I countries in (yet very general) mitigation efforts. At the same time, its influence was limited – by the opposition of the BASIC group – when it had to sacrifice its desired long-term targets for 2050 in the Copenhagen Accord. The major developing countries, especially China and India, exerted influence on the issue of differentiated responsibilities. Using a legalistic strategy based on arguments centred on Article 3 UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, and successfully engaging partners from the G-77/China in their foreign policy strategy, they managed to employ structures they had created in the 1990s to retain a substantial differentiation between Annex I and non-Annex I parties regarding mitigation efforts and their measurement. On issues that opposed them to the US, other Annex I countries and parts of their own coalition, these countries further demonstrated their much-increased clout, rooted both in their growing standing in world politics and in their current and future GHG emissions profiles. This was most evident for the decisions ← 243 | 244 →on the mid-term targets. Fearing to be bound by such goals a few decades later, (especially) China attempted to influence talks by demanding the deletion of the relevant paragraph from the final draft of the Accord. In so doing, it effectively altered the behaviour of industrialized countries and betrayed the interests of many players in the G-77.