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 3: The Indispensable Awkward Partner: The United Kingdom in European Climate Policy

Loren R. Cass


Loren R Cass INTRODUCTION The United Kingdom’s (UK) role in the development of a common European response to global climate change (GCC) presents a fascinating case study of the ability of individual member states to pursue their national preferences within the context of the broader European environmental foreign policy process. During the 1970s and 1980s, European states and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) denounced the UK as the ‘Dirty Man’ of Europe. British governments consistently dragged their feet as their European partners sought to press ahead with international environmental negotiations and the formulation of a common European environmental policy. Though it balked at international environmental commitments, the UK emerged as an overachiever in fulfilling many of those same commitments. It also significantly altered its strategic approach to environmental policy in the 1990s and emerged as a leader in shaping European and international environmental law. This chapter is structured around an analysis of the UK’s role in shaping European foreign policy in the GCC negotiations. Global climate change provides an issue that spans a period of reform in British environmental policy and provides insight into the shifting nature of British environmental foreign policy (EFP) as well as the shifts in its relations with the European Union (EU) on environmental issues. The British, along with the Germans (see Chapter 2), provided the vast majority of CO2 emissions reductions for the EU as a whole. Without the British reductions, it would have been much more difficult for the EU to pursue an...

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