EU and U.S. Avoiding Crucial Questions in the Politics of Global Climate Change Governance

Written by | Monday, December 8th, 2014

In autumn 2015, another UN summit will take place in Paris whose common theme will be the climate change. A recently published study by the leading Italian research institute Istituto Affari Internazionali argues that despite the efforts of the scientific community, which warns against the direct effects of climate change and the pressure from states that are starting to be directly existentially threatened, it does not seem the world forum could unite and agree on common binding steps designed to mitigate the impact of climate change. The reduction of CO2 emissions, which are the main contributor to global warming, is the primordial task.

The EU and U.S. have quite a developed strategy on combating climate change. What is missing is stronger joint efforts in the international arena, which would be able to exert pressure on other major global players. For quite a long time, it has no longer been the case that the U.S. and the EU were the major contributors in emissions. Instead, India, Brazil or states collectively called the “Asian Tigers” jumped or moved closer to the original leaders in the rankings. According to data from 2012, China is actually in the first place.

The unwillingness of China and other countries to join the desired effort that could slow or halt climate change is one of the main arguments put forward by the U.S. government in explaining why they have a reserved attitude towards new agreements. The forthcoming trade convention (TTIP) between the U.S. and the EU is also an interesting factor that will affect the future agreement.

We cannot talk about some common struggle by western countries against climate change. The main points of bilateral negotiations still remain economic growth and energy security. In the future, the latter priority would also shape the U.S. decision on the extraction of shale gas. Nevertheless, these circumstances cannot reverse the ongoing climate change and will have minimal impact on the reduction of the emissions.

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