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Jon Birger Skjærseth

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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Jon Birger Skjærseth

Because unanimity is required on new long-term climate- and energypolicy goals, the relationship between Poland and the EU is crucial. This chapter examines Poland’s implementation of the EU climate and energy-policy package to attain 2020 goals: the extent to which and how these policies have been implemented to date, why and with what consequences for Poland’s positions on new EU climate policies. Indigenous coal accounts for nearly 90 per cent of the country’s electricity production and 50 per cent of its total CO2 emissions. A first observation is that there have been significant implementation problems concerning Poland and the ETS, RES and CCS Directives. The EU package cannot be said to have been a ‘game-changer’ – Poland has mainly opposed the package, or absorbed it to make it fit with existing policies and energy mix. Secondly, implementation challenges arise from EU adaptation pressure and ‘misfit’ with national policies, negotiating position and energy mix. Domestic politics has also proved important: continued governmental prioritization of coal, opposition to climate policy by state-owned energy groups, privileged access to decisionmaking for these groups and fragmented administrative organization. Moreover, poor experiences with implementation have made Poland increasingly resistant to long-term EU policies, as partly reflected in the new 2030 climate- and energy-policy framework adopted by the European Council in October 2014. Still, there are some signs of changes that may drive Poland towards a ‘greener’ pathway in the future.
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Jon Birger Skjærseth and Jørgen Wettestad

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Per Ove Eikeland and Jon Birger Skjærseth

The chapter outlines the EU’s leadership-by-example ambition in climate policy and raises intriguing questions that are addressed in this book. How did the various member-states manage to agree on increasingly ambitious common targets and policies? Have the policies been implemented domestically – and have they served to trigger a transformation towards decarbonization? What are the consequences of these implementation experiences for the adoption of new EU policies to 2030 and beyond? The chapter introduces a pioneering new analytical approach in explaining policymaking, implementation and reform by combining negotiation theory on issue-linkages with theories on EU policymaking and implementation. It offers insights into how climate ambitions can be raised under the most demanding decisionmaking rule – when unanimity is required. Further, the research design and the structure of the book are presented.
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Jon Birger Skjærseth and Per Ove Eikeland

Here the authors outline the analytical framework that guides their empirical enquiry into how and why the EU has been able to initiate, decide, implement and reform increasingly ambitious climate/energy targets and policies. Implementation is affected by domestic politics and the content of the EU policies that were adopted in the first place. Domestic implementation experiences of short-term policies are also likely to affect national positions on new long-term policies. Various theory strands are combined – including negotiation theory on issue-linkages and theories of EU policymaking and implementation – to examine the whole policy-cycle. The starting point is the following paradox: EU climate policy has come close to the positions of the ‘most ambitious’ pivotal actors, even when the decisions have been adopted by unanimity. One compelling explanation can be found in theories on issue-linkage: that agreement can be reached by combining different issues in a policy package. Theories of EU integration and policymaking are also needed to explain how policies developed in the first place. Here, two approaches are applied: Liberal Intergovernmentalism and Multi-level Governance . The chapter also explores how international events and regimes external to the EU can influence the development, implementation and reform of EU policies.
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Per Ove Eikeland and Jon Birger Skjærseth

As background for understanding the subsequent policy initiatives presented in the ensuing chapters, this chapter outlines the development of EU climate and energy policies until 2005. In this period, the European Community unsuccessfully sought to craft a climate and energy package of policies in order to show ‘leadership by example’ at the 1992 Rio Conference. Key principles underlying today’s climate and energy policies were formed, but the development of EU climate and energy policy continued as isolated processes. Separate policymaking resulted in conflicts between energy and climate concerns from the end of 2003, a barrier to effective policymaking. The low level of ambition evident in energy policies adopted throughout this period is mainly in line with the tenets of Liberal Intergovernmentalism. The outcomes reflected the diversity of interests among the member-states. The development of the key climate policy instrument – the EU ETS – is more in line with expectations that follow from Multi-level Governance. The Commission initiated the EU ETS with support from certain industries, largely independent of the member-states that either opposed or were indifferent to emissions-trading. The Kyoto Protocol also facilitated the initiation of the EU ETS.
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Lars H. Gulbrandsen and Jon Birger Skjærseth

This chapter examines the Netherlands’ implementation of the EU climate- and energy-policy package to attain 2020 goals: the extent to which and how these policies have been implemented to date, why and with what consequences for Dutch positions on new EU climate policies. The Netherlands is one of the EU’s most fossil-fuel-dependent member-states, with over 90 per cent of its energy mix based on fossil fuels. The authors find that the EU climate and energy package has provided greater stability for Dutch climate and energy policies, establishing both short-term and longer-term targets. However, the Dutch renewables sector has developed slowly, and the Netherlands is lagging considerably behind its EU targets as well as with the pace of renewables deployment in neighbouring countries. Domestic politics proves important in explaining implementation problems: shifting government coalitions with changing priorities; strong industrial interests in maintaining energy affordability; a consensual Dutch policy style that promotes incremental, stepwise changes rather than large-scale industrial and societal transformation; and local opposition to CCS and on-shore windpower development. Mixed experiences with implementation have made the Netherlands prefer a re-packing compromise for 2030 based on a single climate target and the EU ETS.
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Jon Birger Skjærseth and Per Ove Eikeland

The final chapter summarizes the empirical findings of Chapters 3 to 10, extracts analytical implications and presents some reflections on the future road for EU climate and energy policy. Concerning the road ahead, the EU will need to reform and tighten the 2030 climate and energy framework in several policy rounds in order to deliver on its 2050 decarbonization goal. The challenge is indeed formidable: to facilitate and shape a transformation towards decarbonization among 28 member-states with widely differing energy economies by the year 2050. How the future will look is veiled in great uncertainty. Institutionalized cooperation might gather momentum through a ‘snowball effect’ generating positive feedback from implementation and facilitating further steps. Or the future situation might be more in line with the economists’ ‘law of diminishing returns’. Here, the first steps are likely to be the ‘easy ones’ in which marginal benefits clearly exceed marginal costs. This ‘law’ indicates that it will become increasingly difficult to promote new joint policies, and that governments will gradually become more reluctant as regards implementing them. As the EU’s long-term plans now stand, the decarbonization challenge lies increasingly with implementation in the member-states. To ensure longer-term collective success, climate, energy and possibly other policies will have to be regionalized or linked through repeating policy-cycles in ways that can serve to create positive experiences and benefits among all the diverse member-states of the European Union.
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Per Ove Eikeland, Jon Birger Skjærseth and Lars H. Gulbrandsen

The authors examine the initiation of the EU climate and energy package for 2020. The Commission initiated the package based on two issue-linkage mechanisms. First, issues that were differently valued among individual and collective policymakers as regards energy security and climate mitigation were combined, in order to unify support from pivotal actors within the Commission, among the member-states and powerful industrial actors. Secondly, there was considerable emphasis on synergies between climate and energy policies. Synergies were to be created by climate and energy goals that were mutually reinforcing, so as to reduce air pollution, create green jobs and stimulate technological innovation. Trade-offs were largely ignored. The Multi-level Governance and the Liberal Intergovernmentalist approaches can explain different aspects of why and how the package came about. The package was initiated also as a response to external energy events and international commitments – specifically, the rise in oil prices, the Ukraine/Russia dispute over gas supplies and the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol.
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Jon Birger Skjærseth, Per Ove Eikeland and Lars H. Gulbrandsen

How and why were new, binding EU climate and energy policies unanimously agreed in 2008? The first conclusion is that linkages between issues and policies provided broad scope for mutual concession during the negotiations. Secondly, the package provided side-payments to compensate less wealthy member-states. Finally, issues and policies that might obstruct the basis for agreement were decoupled from the core package and negotiated independently. Related issues and policies were de-linked from the package, to reduce complexity and avoid magnifying differences in interests. As EU energy policymaking has traditionally been more intergovernmental in nature than has climate policy, the combined energy and climate package came to reflect a blend of Liberal Intergovernmentalism and Multi-level Governance. In addition, the Kyoto Protocol’s flexible mechanisms served to reduce abatement costs for European countries and for industries.