Hot Issues, Cold Shoulders, Lukewarm Partners: EU Strategic Partnerships and Climate Change

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Series Details Report 2, November 2012
Publication Date 27/11/2012
ISBN 9789038220604
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Few issues have climbed the international political agenda, from low to high politics, as climate change has done over the past two decades. It is now widely recognised at the global level that action must be taken to prevent or mitigate climate change and environmental degradation.

Climate change is affecting every country indiscriminately – even if some countries are more vulnerable than others – and so it requires a collective response. Possible solutions are being negotiated at the multilateral level, in particular within the UN framework, and in various other formats. But consensus-building takes time, and time is not on our side.

The 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen was a wake-up call for Europe. If the EU is to have weight in international negotiations, it should develop a strategic approach, especially in its relations with the other major actors involved, such as the United States and the BASIC countries. The Copenhagen debacle is usually perceived as one of the triggering factors for the renewed European interest in its so-called strategic partnerships.

This ESPO report aims to contribute to the debate on the value of bilateral partnerships in addressing major issues on the global agenda. Do strategic partnerships make a difference in the EU’s pursuit of its objectives on climate change? Despite the abundant literature on climate change, this dimension has so far remained largely unexplored. It is important, however, to shed some light on the interconnections between climate talks and the EU’s redefined approach towards other global players. This report focuses on BASIC group countries which belong to a specific coalition that has been particularly vocal in climate talks.

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