Europe and Global Climate Change
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Europe and Global Climate Change

Politics, Foreign Policy and Regional Cooperation

Edited by Paul G. Harris

The core objective of this book is to better understand the role of foreign policy – the crossovers and interactions between domestic and international politics and policies – in efforts to preserve the environment and natural resources. Underlying this objective is the belief that it is not enough to analyze domestic or international political actors, institutions and processes by themselves. We need to understand the interactions among them, something that explicit thought about foreign policy can help us do.
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Chapter 1: Europe and the Politics and Foreign Policy of Global Climate Change

Paul G. Harris


Paul G Harris INTRODUCTION The Earth is experiencing unnatural atmospheric warming that is leading to changes in climate and a host of mostly adverse side effects for humankind and the ecosystems upon which we depend for our wellbeing (see Houghton et al. 2001; Houghton 2004). Of this there is now little dispute.1 The world’s governments, as well as many nongovernmental actors, have started to address the problems of global climate change (GCC) – global warming and resulting climatic changes. Alas, their responses to these problems have been modest at best relative to the scale of painful future changes to environmental and socio-economic systems that are anticipated by scientists. Europe is a crucial actor in the GCC debate and related diplomacy and policy responses. Like the United States (US), as a group the countries of Europe are a primary source of ‘greenhouse’ gases (GHGs) causing global warming, meaning that the extent to which they limit those emissions will be important for future climate change.2 They also possess technological and financial resources that are necessary to reduce GHG emissions globally and to assist those countries most vulnerable to GCC so that they can better adapt to its undesirable effects. While the European reaction, like that of the US, has not fully met the challenge of GCC, nowhere has the response to this problem been greater than among the member states of the European Union (EU).3 As a group they have taken greater steps at the national, regional and international levels to reduce...

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