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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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Explaining the EU’s Influence during the Period 2007 to 2009

Explaining the EU’s Influence during the Period 2007 to 2009

To facilitate the explanation of EU influence, two sets of assumptions were made when designing the analytical framework for this study: causal mechanisms underlying the exercise of influence (bargaining, arguing), and potential variables that may qualify as conditions enabling or restraining EU influence were identified. Two analytical strategies can be employed that capitalize on these assumptions: pattern-matching and explanation-building (see Chapter 1).

When it comes to pattern-matching, a first observation is that during the decisive final day at COP 15, the post-2012 negotiations conducted in the Friends of the Chair group undoubtedly involved bargaining. The trade-offs in the agreement between the US and the BASIC countries or the finance proposals to get developing countries to approve the deal were indicators of a collective search for compromises to “seal a deal” involving concessions by all major parties. The narrative had shown that the EU was physically present during these instances, but not effectively engaged as a player in this bargaining session. There was no real give-and-take involving the Union: while it certainly gave – it gave up on a legally binding agreement, it gave up on its target proposals, and it gave money – it received nothing in return. The causal mechanism “bargaining” was thus clearly not triggered by the EU’s foreign policy performance during the period 2007 to 2009.

The rare occasions on which the EU was actually influential resulted from “arguing”, i.e. “non-manipulative reason-giving” (Keohane 2001: 10; Kleine/Risse 2005: 9), on the basis of rational, often science-based proposals. On the issue of targets, the EU’s 2°C, previously not part of other major parties’ preferences or positions, was taken over by these ­latter – even if they received nothing in return for it. Umbrella Group and BASIC countries alike seemed simply convinced, in light of the science and the overall negotiation context, that the adoption of such an aim was useful as a yardstick. On finance, notably in the short term, the rationale of EU proposals was – given the overall negotiation context – equally accepted as reasonable. finally, the Union’s leverage over countries’ targets in these negotiations was also the result of successful arguing for the feasibility of fairly ambitious reduction targets paired to a management ← 244 | 245 →approach. It incited, for instance, Australia to change its preferences in the direction of what it perceived as the best argument.

These accounts of the logic of EU influence raise a number of questions as to the scope conditions that did or did not trigger the causal mechanisms. On the one hand, the central question is certainly why the Union could never successfully bargain, especially during the decisive final stages of the talks. On the other hand, the scope conditions for arguing need to be explored, notably on the issue of the 2°C target. To do so, both pre-specified explanatory factors of EU influence and new factors that emerged during the process analysis are considered.

As highlighted in the narrative analysis, significant external events and trends during this time period comprised above all the emergence of the financial-economic crisis in 2008, an overall trend in global (climate) politics toward the creation of smaller fora (e.g. G-20), and the growing importance of the emerging economies. While the financial crisis became a topic in the climate negotiations of late 2008 and early 2009, no indications were found that it permanently impaired talks beyond a non-negligible loss of momentum at that time. It did not modify the EU’s positions or strategy in any major way, despite the fact that more reluctant member states invoked it as a justification for limiting EU climate measures both during the debates of the climate and energy package and at later stages. The shift into smaller fora and the increased role of major emerging countries would, by contrast, have major consequences for the Union. Changing GHG emission profiles of the major emitters meant that the EU was already – and more obviously in a medium-term perspective – becoming less significant to overall global mitigation efforts. At the same time, it now had to face – in addition to the US and some Umbrella Group members – even more players whose principal interest it was to sustain economic growth and who perceived this objective to stand in contradiction to ambitious mitigation policies. Especially in smaller circles outside the UN, it would become more difficult for the Union to promote its more progressive positions. All in all, these events and trends determined EU influence moderately to strongly negatively, as further discussed below.

Climate science, by contrast, had the expected positive impact on the Union’s influence. As it frequently used the science in its argumentation strategy, the fact that the findings of the fourth IPCC report had been more compelling and widely accepted facilitated arguing and contributed to successful influence attempts regarding, above all, the 2°C target. The importance of climate science notwithstanding, differences in the reception of new findings remained. The debates on science references under the two tracks during the Bali COP/MOP illustrated the continued weariness of notably the US to let science and the precautionary principle prevail over conflicting economic interests. When the US government ← 245 | 246 →in 2009 embraced the science to a larger extent, it still interpreted it differently than the EU, stressing mitigation in the long run (2050), despite the IPCC’s emphasis on the importance of medium-term peak years. Nonetheless, advances in climate science constituted an undeniable enabling factor of EU influence during the period up to 2009.

Before tackling the multilateral regime dynamics, the domestic contexts in some of the key countries need to be recapitulated. Most importantly, the story revealed the central role of the US domestic legislative process, which had evident repercussions on global climate politics: the delay of the UN negotiations was in large part the result of internally diverging preferences about climate change between a more progressive administration and the opposition in Congress, unresolved due to an unfavourable political system. In Japan, the situation was quite different: less geared toward the US than in past negotiations, the new social-­liberal government demonstrated in August 2009 that it was possible to cut through internal preference divergences and adopt ambitious mitigation targets. China and India had not only similar positions centred on equity and sovereignty concerns, but these had also resulted from similar internal institutional contexts and debates. In both countries, many agencies and/or ministries were involved in the definition of the position, making it difficult to deviate from long-lived defensive, often anti-Western stances. The involvement of the highest political level in talks at COP 15 reinforced this inflexibility. The uncertainty about positions of key countries during the final stages of the talks rendered debates very complicated and also had a restraining effect for the EU’s capacity to exert influence during the endgame in Copenhagen.

These individual domestic contexts obviously had repercussions at the aggregate level of regime dynamics. The story aptly illustrated the differences in preferences among key parties/coalitions. With regard to the ­issue of emission targets, there was a clear cleavage between the EU, Japan (at later stages in the process) and many developing ­countries on the one hand, and the US, other Umbrella Group members, and the emerging countries on the other hand. While the former insisted on ­legally binding, ambitious, science-based targets, the latter preferred by and large a bottom up approach. On differentiation, the cleavage opposed developed and (major) developing countries. On other important items, like the form of the outcome, matters were even more complex due to the two UN negotiation strands: the EU, with its preference for a single outcome incorporating elements of the Kyoto Protocol occupied the middle ground between the developing countries, who argued for the ­continuation of the Kyoto Protocol and another agreement under the LCA track, and the US, who preferred a single LCA outcome. In all cases, the ­interest and belief constellations were heterogeneous and the EU defended ← 246 | 247 →either a minority or an outlier position. Regarding the predominant logic of ­action of these talks, a potential explanatory factor that emerged from the analyses of the time periods 1995–1997 and 2007–2009, parties’ strategies and initial absence of clear stances resulted in the long persistence in a positioning mode. Many were playing the “waiting game” until the autumn of 2009, when pragmatism and lowered ambitions – steeped in distrust among the large emitters – determined the nature of the talks. During the long period of assessment, position-building and limited engagement by the big players, opportunities emerged for the EU to set the agenda and exert influence. On mitigation, this seemingly worked fairly well vis-à-vis Australia, and it had repercussions for the later stages of the talks when other countries pledged their targets. When the overall logic of action turned into bargaining during the decisive stages of the talks, the Union was, however, marginalized, since no pivotal player was interested in what it had to offer. This absence of interest in the EU’s ­offers during the last stages of talks was certainly in part the result of own miscalculations, but it must also be explained by the relative power of other actors in the global climate negotiations. Since the 1990s, when developing country mitigation was effectively excluded from the regime and the Union was still among the key emitters, the relative power of others has gradually grown. While the story demonstrated the continued power, and capacity to convert it into influence, of the US, it also showed the increased potential of the BASIC countries. As a result, essentially the US and China could behave strategically on the basis of take-it-or-leave-it offers in the negotiations. The EU, by contrast, with ever lower emissions, had to struggle to remain among the most powerful players since the 2000s, and clearly did not succeed in doing so during the analysed period. Altogether, the regime dynamics, especially the power and difficult bargaining positions of other actors, added to the awkward and somewhat inappropriate mediation attempts by the Danish COP Presidency, provide partial explanations for the EU’s absence of influence during the decisive stages of the talks. They can also convincingly account for the outcome of the post-2012 talks. The few examples of EU influence can be explained by the negotiation context during early stages of the talks and the reliance on science, both opening up windows of opportunity.

To complement this more structuralist view, the EU’s own activities need to be injected into the overall picture. Apparently, the Union was itself not well-prepared for the final bargain. By contrast, its leadership and problem-­solving strategy predisposed it for exerting influence through arguing. Regarding the EU’s actor capacity, the internal conditions for position-­building had become even more complex over time. Heterogeneous beliefs and preferences of the 27 member states and the Commission led to proposals such as the 20/30% reduction offers, ← 247 | 248 →essentially a compromise agreement, and to quasi-permanent strategic discussions on the more political issues, resulting in some significant instances of incoherence (e.g. the backloading of finance proposals). A potential institutional remedy to these problems had been introduced in 2004 with the system of lead negotiators and issue leaders under the Environment Council. While this did seem to improve the Union’s internal coordination and external representation to some extent, producing much more refined positions on the more technical issues and an overall broader outreach strategy, the evolution of the external arena constantly provided new challenges. The diversification of fora and of bilateral exchanges led to new transaction costs: information had to be shared among EU negotiators, assessed and fed back into the Union’s decision-making machinery. Yet, with only a preparatory and representative function, the new lead negotiators system could not by itself alter the negotiation positions of the EU. This implied that it was still necessary for member states to coordinate ad hoc and at length on the spot during many UN sessions. As in the past, a trade-off between internal coordination and foreign policy implementation could thus be detected. Despite continued problems of this type, both EU and non-EU negotiators and observers perceived the Union, by and large, as a unified actor for most of the talks (Interviews EU representatives 9, 20, 25, non-EU representative 18, Observers 3, 19, 25). This unity was, however, hampered by the implication of heads of state during final informal talks at COP 15, when the large members dominated the scene alongside the Presidency. Although they reportedly also tried to distribute tasks in the Friends of the Chair group, the task-sharing system that functioned at the level of negotiators would not work well at the highest political level. Despite its undeniable actor capacity during this time period, the EU’s adaptive capacities came thus under strain toward the end of 2009, especially when there was a rapid succession of negotiations functioning according to a bargaining mode. The limits to its adaptive capacity reflected and reinforced a lack of coherence and strategic thinking, producing thus less positive preconditions for exerting influence.

As a final explanatory factor to consider, the EU conceived its foreign policy implementation much broader and, at first sight, more coherent than in the past. It combined a proactive problem-solving approach relying on diplomatic tools with economic instruments and broader outreach activities. Yet, while it was attempting to build support for its preferences through this form of outreach, its positions remained very static, qualitatively seemingly unaltered by the information it assembled in all its exchanges with third countries. This suggests that it was not so much the actually fairly developed efficiency of its foreign policy implementation (the EU did the things it wanted to in a correct manner) or a lack of outreach that limited its influence, but rather the lower quality and ← 248 | 249 →effectiveness of its overall approach. As seen from the narratives of this and previous negotiation periods, the EU’s position regularly strongly determined its strategy, to a point that “making proactive proposals”, i.e. having a front-runner position, was almost considered equivalent to possessing a strategy. Yet, a strategy for a dynamic negotiation process has to be – per definition – flexible, something that can hardly be said of the EU’s positions. The Union’s (absence of) influence during this period must thus partially be explained by the strategy underlying its foreign policy implementation. Proactive positioning did yield limited influence in early stages of the process when other parties were still building their own positions, as discussed above. Yet, several examples from the narrative point to an inadequate conception of this strategy when it came to anticipating the final stages of the talks. As the post-2012 negotiations evolved, and although clashes of ideas failed to appear, the Union’s strategy remained as if this inactivity did not challenge its leading-by-­example approach based on mobilizing others’ support for its own policies. What is more, it negotiated the final months on the assumption that the outcome of talks would be legally binding even after this had effectively been discarded by the November 2009 APEC summit. In the endgame, it had nothing to contribute to the bargain: no one was interested in its offer to move to 30% reductions; no party gave anything in return for its finance offers; and it had no coalition partner to put pressure on major players during the final hours of COP 15. All these examples can only be explained by the fact that the Union must have assumed that other parties would be prepared to follow its example and step up their efforts at the very end of the negotiations. In retrospect, this proved wrong: the EU’s strategy and foreign policy implementation seemed to be built on incorrect premises, insufficiently geared toward the arguably very intricate and evolving negotiation context. Together with the latter, a deficient strategy can thus partially also explain the lack of EU influence in Copenhagen. Obviously, foreign policy strategy, position and actor capacity are closely linked. One could therefore also assume that an actor capable of defining a proactive position is able to define and adapt a strategy for defending that position. If this assumption is accepted as valid, the Union’s under-performance in the post-2012 negotiations is not so much the result of problems related to its actor capacity and an inability to forge common positions, but of wrong choices the 27+1 took regarding the positions they did adopt. The EU’s strategy had been updated in the period 2005–2007 on the basis of past experiences, especially with the Kyoto Protocol negotiations, and past global transformations, but had clearly not anticipated potential future constellations.← 249 | 250 →


1The distinction between “prior to” and “during” the negotiations is fuzzy because reform talks had been ongoing ever since 2005, but it is fair to say that the official post-2012 negotiations commenced with the 2007 Bali COP.

2For one of the first times, George W. Bush mentioned climate change as a “serious challenge” in his State of the Union Address of 23 January 2007 (Bush 2007: 5).

3To highlight but two examples (Romàn/Carson 2009), at state level, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) of 2005 joined ten states from the East Coast together in a cap-and-trade system covering utility sector emissions. Similar initiatives were created by five Western states and in the Midwest (six US states plus Manitoba). At the local level, the US Council of Mayors signed a Climate Protection Agreement in 2005: covering more than 900 cities in early 2009, the mayors committed their communities to individually complying with the Kyoto targets.

4A key feature of the bill was the proposal of a national cap-and-trade scheme covering electric utility, manufacturing and transportation industries. Emission trading would remain the policy tool of choice of US lawmakers in the period thereafter.

5In mid-2009, this rise in US public support of domestic and international climate policies had already come to a halt again (Nordhaus/Shellenberger 2009).

6Russian emissions had dropped steeply after the breakdown of the energy-intensive economic system of the Soviet Union. This meant that it possessed enough “hot air” to meet its target and engage in selling emissions rights.

7BASIC did not emerge as a negotiation group before the autumn of 2009; it is used in this section to demonstrate the similarities between these emerging countries.

8Among the departments were also the Chinese Academy of Science and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

9This despite the fact that per capita emissions of the Indian middle class had been growing to about 5 t per capita, a level that was comparable to the global average in the mid-2000s, earning India the criticism that it was “hiding behind the poor” (Greenpeace 2007; Müller 2006: 29; Rajamani 2008: 23).

10Nonetheless, the EU-15 was well on its way towards meeting its Kyoto target of 8% GHG reductions over the period 2008–2012: in 2008, it lay 6.2% below 1990 levels, while the EU-27 fared, with over 13% below 1990 levels and thanks to Eastern Europe’s “hot air”, even better (Phillips 2009b).

11From 2008 on, the economic crisis would blur this dividing line to some extent by reinforcing the concerns of more sceptical countries, while also impairing the commitment of some of the historically progressive players.

12During the analysed period, the European Parliament demonstrated an increased interest in the EU’s foreign climate policy. In April 2007, it created a Temporary Committee, whose task was inter alia to coordinate the Parliament’s “position in relation to the negotiations for the post-2012 international climate policy” (European Parliament 2007). It would regularly adopt resolutions on global policies.

13The Environment Council, with input from the Economy and finance Council (ECOFiN), would adopt the negotiating positions in the months preceding the COPs.

14The member states in the Troika during this period were: in 2007, Germany and Portugal (1st semester), Portugal and Slovenia (2nd semester); in 2008, Slovenia and France (1st semester), France and Czech Republic (2nd semester); in 2009, Czech Republic and Sweden (1st semester), Sweden and Spain (2nd semester).

15For the negotiations until 2009, representatives from the Commission’s DG Environment took the lead in the discussions under the Kyoto Protocol track (AWG-KP), while the EU’s lead negotiator under the second, “long-term cooperative action” track was Mars Goote, a civil servant from the Dutch Ministry of Environment, backed up by a team of issue leaders with representatives from the UK, Germany, France, Spain and the Commission (Interviews EU representatives 7, 9).

16The review of the Protocol at MOP 4 in 2008 would be concluded “without any substantive outcome” (ENB 2008l: 18). As the procedures under Article 9 KP would thus not gain much significance in terms of regime development in this time period, this plot will not be further pursued in the remainder of this chapter.

17“We seek your leadership, but if, for some reasons, you are not willing to lead, leave it to the rest of us. Please, get out of the way.”

18As this change of course was minor, concerning a few words in a document that started an open negotiation process – words that were, moreover, subject to different interpretations – what some called the US “u-turn” should not be overestimated (Müller 2008: 3–4). It did, however, signify US re-engagement in UN climate talks.

19Already the original 2003 ETS Directive had comprised a call to conclude agreements with other Annex I parties (EP/Council 2003: Art. 25.1). The 2004 “Linking Directive” stated then that the Commission should pursue agreements with Kyoto Protocol parties to “provide for the recognition of allowances between the Community scheme and mandatory [GHG] trading schemes” (EP/Council 2004: para. 18).

20Following this approach, it had initiated, e.g., the International Carbon Action Partnership in 2007, involving US states, Canadian provinces, Norway and New Zealand, to lobby for the idea of an OECD carbon market, for which its own ETS could provide a blueprint (Benwell 2009: 102–103; van Schaik/van Hecke 2008: 17).

21The Commission proposed: “Once a future international agreement on climate change has been reached, CDM credits shall only be accepted in the EU ETS from third countries that have ratified the international agreement” and that therefore the EU “should only authorise project activities where all project participants have headquarters (…) in a country that has concluded the international agreement relating to such projects, so as to discourage ‘free-riding’ by companies in States which have not concluded an international agreement” (European Commission 2008d: point 5, para. 26; van Schaik/van Hecke 2008: 16). This formula found its way into the directive ultimately adopted in 2009 (EP/Council 2009: para. 33, 32).

22During the preparations of the Article 9 review of the Kyoto Protocol scheduled for the Poznan COP, the Umbrella Group demanded, as in previous sessions, a more comprehensive review so as to start a discussion on revising the differentiation between Annex I and non-Annex I parties – without success (ENB 2008d: 15–16).

23Among the other issues that the COP dealt with the operationalization of the adaptation fund was regarded as one of the key outcomes (Santarius et al. 2009: 4).

24The solidarity clause foresaw that 10% of allowances would not be auctioned, but reserved for the poorest EU members; another 2% would go directly to the new members (Agence Europe 2008m: 5). Polish power plants were exempted from paying for allowances until 2020, whereas Germany, finland and Italy, for instance, obtained that allowances would be completely free between 2013 and 2020 for industries with the greatest risk of carbon leakage (cement, chemicals, wood) if no adequate international agreement was reached (Agence Europe 2008m: 4).

25The European Parliament endorsed the package shortly after the COP, clearing the path for the final formal Council approval in April 2009 (Phillips 2008).

26In an op-ed, the Australian Minister for Climate Change, Penny Wong, explained the rationale behind this approach: “I hope the ambitious commitments of Australia and the European Union will encourage other developed countries to make comparable commitments, building momentum in international negotiations” (Wong 2008).

27This showed also in the new President’s appointments: Obama filled positions that would be crucial for the climate dossier with the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Carol Browner, as White House coordinator on climate change, and Todd Stern, who had already negotiated for the US in Kyoto, as State Department “Special Envoy for Climate Change” (Romàn/Carson 2009: 21).

28The MEF continued the “Major Economies Meetings” under a new name.

29The key proposal, the “American Clean Energy and Security Act”, foresaw a cap-and-trade system which would reduce US GHG emissions by 17% by 2020 (from 2005 levels). This represented a 4% reduction from 1990 levels.

30The Union’s objective since at least 2007 had been a “comprehensive post-2012 agreement, which would build upon (…) the Kyoto Protocol architecture” (European Council 2007: 11, emphasis added).

31This was by no means the case, though, as the EU continued to be open for a two-track outcome (Interviews EU representatives 22, 8). In preparing its statement, however, it had apparently underestimated G-77/China reactions.

32Differences reportedly included substantial rifts over who would contribute how much to the EU’s share, with the new member states trying to limit their expenses, and strategic discussions as to when to put money on the table, with above all Germany wanting to hold it back as a bargaining chip (Charter/Webster 2009).

33The Danish Presidency had been actively consulting with parties throughout 2009. A shift in its approach was remarked when the Prime Minister gradually engaged in the talks. Where Climate Minister Hedegaard had opted for a broad multilateral approach, Lokke Rasmussen preferred small-circle solutions among big emitters (Interview EU representative 22; de Boer 2010; Meilstrup 2010).

34The new Danish strategy and Rasmussen’s proposal at this meeting had apparently not been coordinated with the rest of the EU (Interviews EU representatives 22, 8), nor was it to the liking of Connie Hedegaard, who would have preferred pressuring the US until COP 15 (Meilstrup 2010: 125).

35The US further pledged to reduce emissions by 30% by 2025, 42% by 2030 and 83% by 2050 (compared to 2005) to provide “a significant contribution to a problem that the U.S. has neglected for too long” (White House 2009d). The numbers reflected the discussions on climate and energy legislation held at that time in the Senate.

36The only real novelty of the first day came therefore from the US, where the Environmental Protection Agency had formally declared CO2 a public danger, sending an important signal to negotiation partners: even if no climate legislation was adopted in Congress, the US executive would be able to regulate emissions (Goldenberg 2009c).

37This scenario was repeated on 10 December in the MOP (ENB 2009w: 1–2). While Tuvalu wanted to ensure the adequate treatment of its proposal (built around a 1.5°C scenario), the larger G-77/China members refuted the notion of a new legally binding protocol outside the Kyoto Protocol. The MOP was suspended until further notice.

38It would kick off a series of negotiating text leakages, published primarily through the website of “The Guardian” (for the story of those leakages: Vidal/Watts 2009).

39According to UNFCCC Secretary General de Boer, this criticism was, however, unwarranted: key members of the G-77/China, including Sudan, had been consulted on this draft, which apparently dated from 27 November (UNFCCC Press Conference 9 Dec. 2009; Meilstrup 2010: 128; Müller 2010: 10).

40The EU’s concern was that the US would not be subject to the same accounting principles as the Kyoto Protocol parties. Within the EU, the texts stimulated also broader strategic debates: where the Commission and some states (UK, Sweden) did not yet want to accept the idea of two outcomes, others argued for accepting the texts as basis to proceed with discussions. This controversy also brought up the question of EU red lines on other issues (target pledges, finance).

41For three of these groups, EU ministers (from Spain, Germany and the UK) were appointed as co-facilitators.

42Officially, this move was to ensure that all participants during the high-level segment would be of equal levels of political seniority. Unofficially, it underscored the different approaches that had marked the Danish Presidency in 2009. Hedegaard continued her consultations as the President’s “Special Representative” (Meilstrup 2010: 130).

43Zenawi would come under criticism from the African Group for having given in on the firm position the coalition had defended on this item beforehand (Nazret 2010).

44The agreement had apparently been prepared in contacts between Ethiopia, France and the UK before the Copenhagen summit (Phillips 2010; Nazret 2010).

45Behind the scenes, the original initiative had reportedly also come from the EU.

46Roughly 25 countries were permanently involved, i.e. most countries that had attended the Major Economies Forum (Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and the European Commission (these three as EU Troika), the UK, the US, and Denmark) plus several parties representing different coalitions. According to a statement by Grenada in the final COP plenary, these were: Ethiopia, Algeria (both for the African Group), Bangladesh, Lesotho (both for the LDCs), the Maldives, Grenada (both for AOSIS), Colombia, Norway, Saudi-Arabia (for OPEC) and Sudan (for the G-77/China).

47Unofficially, informal (bilateral) talks had been ongoing the entire time, as heads of state and government arrived in Copenhagen. From the EU side, the UK, Germany or France engaged in bilaterals, with, e.g., China and Brazil, while the EU Presidency itself was reportedly less and less involved in outreach activities.

48Wen Jiabao’s absence from this meeting was explained in different ways: US sources said he had “refused” to meet informally, sending low-level officials instead; China claimed not to have received an official invitation (Müller 2010: 12). Reportedly, the country was represented at the meeting by Ethiopia.

49That this was maybe not entirely the case was demonstrated by a press conference given by Republican members of the US House of Representatives on the same day in Copenhagen, in which several of them denied climate science and opposed its international regulation (Press Conference US House of Representatives 18 Dec. 2009).

50As at the Kyoto COP, talks moved increasingly into the backrooms of the Congress Centre. Unlike in Kyoto, however, media presence and the wide use of social media (Blogs, Twitter) allowed for closely monitoring the evolving negotiations. Moreover, confidential audio tapings of the talks in the Friends of the Chair group – released in the spring of 2010 by the German news magazine “Der Spiegel” – confirm other reports about the difficult proceedings in this group. They also demonstrate that the debates among the world’s leaders resembled much to those held at negotiators’ level (Spiegel 2010). Although a few details of the high-level exchanges cannot be reconstructed, a clear overall message on the story and EU influence assessment emerges.

51This reflected the existing and the US-favoured base years.

52Supported NAMAs would be “registered in a registry (…) and shall be subject to international measurement, reporting and verification in accordance with guidelines elaborated by the COP (…) The Parties take note of the information on enhanced mitigation actions by non-Annex I Parties” (UNFCCC 2009q: para. 5).

53The sources diverge on whether Obama forced his entry into the meeting or was asked to join in.

54China’s rationale in demanding the scratching of those Articles was arguably based on a fear of having moved to the rank of Annex I countries and having to comply with this rule by mid-century (Lynas 2009; Müller 2010).

55As one commentator noted, the “White House mounted a surgical strike of astounding effectiveness (and cynicism) that saw the president announcing a deal live on TV” to make “anyone (…) not particularly interested (…) believe that a deal (…) had been done, with the US providing leadership to the global community” (Black 2009).

56This was certainly an understatement of how many EU negotiators felt about this outcome. Some, certainly completely overtired after nights with little sleep, were seen crying after learning of the final “Copenhagen Accord” (Minten 2009).

57Though not specifically traced here, it has to be noted that, especially vis-à-vis these larger trading partners, a certain parallelism between genuine EU outreach and activities of (big) EU member states like the UK, Germany or France existed. While these countries’ activities did not necessarily go against EU objectives in the UN talks, they certainly operated with different approaches, giving at times the impression of fragmentation of the Union’s approach (Interviews EU representatives 1, 12).

58This strategy arguably bore fruit vis-à-vis countries of the Pacific (Australia, but also Japan), and – to a more limited extent – Russia. It requires further consideration in the context of the assessment of EU influence.

59The most obvious example of this was the Union’s involvement in the Friends of the Chair meetings at COP 15, during which its key negotiators in the AWGs were more or less sidelined by members of the cabinets of the heads of state.

60Another striking parallel is that the pledges and/or policies adopted in the late 2000s were abandoned or scaled down at later stages by new governments in several countries (e.g. Australia, Japan).

61The Maldives, for AOSIS, and supported by developed countries, managed to retain a reference to the 1.5°C target in the paragraph of the CA that dealt with its review in 2015. This reference was retained in later negotiation documents at COPs 16 and 17.