The Domestic Politics of Global Climate Change

The Domestic Politics of Global Climate Change

Key Actors in International Climate Cooperation

New Horizons in Environmental Politics series

Edited by Guri Bang, Arild Underdal and Steinar Andresen

Why are some countries more willing and able than others to engage in climate change mitigation? The Domestic Politics of Global Climate Change compiles insights from experts in comparative politics and international relations to describe and explain climate policy trajectories of seven key actors: Brazil, China, the European Union, India, Japan, Russia, and the United States. Using a common conceptual framework, the authors find that ambitious climate policy change is limited by stable material parameters and that governmental supply of mitigation policies meet (or even exceed) societal demand in most cases. Given the important roles that the seven actors play in addressing global climate change, the book’s in-depth comparative analysis will help readers assess the prospects for a new and more effective international climate agreement for 2020 and beyond.

Chapter 4: EU climate and energy policy: demanded or supplied?

Jon Birger Skjærseth

Subjects: environment, climate change, environmental politics and policy, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, international politics


Since the 1990s, the European Union has sought a leadership-by-example role in international climate negotiations. How has it managed to get a relatively ambitious climate policy accepted by 28 member states with widely differing energy economic situations? Energy security concerns spur a need for energy efficiency and higher energy production, but member state views differ regarding how shifting to a low-carbon economy will promote energy security. The institutional setting provided an enabling context, stimulating consensus-seeking and long-term policy development. Because EU policies were adopted by consensus from 2007, explanations for change focus on how climate and energy policies and issues were combined in new ways that enabled cost sharing, promoted new low-carbon opportunities and gave something to all major ‘veto players’. The linkage between climate and energy policies has mainly been policy supply–driven, but broad support for EU-level climate policies has been important for legitimizing the decisions taken. The EU’s new 2030 climate and energy policy framework represents a policy ‘re-packing’ compromise to satisfy the main veto players, with substantial concessions to Poland and other CEECs. Whether new policies can put the member states collectively on the path towards a low-emission economy, however, will depend on new legislation as yet to be adopted and implemented.

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