The European Union Bubble: Differentiation in the Assignment of Greenhouse Gas Emission Targets

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Series Details Volume 25, Number 2, Pages 151-163
Publication Date June 2003
ISSN 0703-6337
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Under the Kyoto Protocol, the European Union has committed itself to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 8 per cent below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. Given current emission trends of the fifteen member states, such a target is only likely to be met under Article 4 of the Protocol, which makes provision for groups of countries to redistribute a commonly accepted target among themselves.

This article considers two alternative explanations behind differentiated target allocation and tests which more successfully explain the current European Burden Sharing Agreement. The first uses the concept of a normatively fair distribution of the cost burden, while the second is based on the power of member states. Power proves to be less determinant than notions of fairness, a finding which ultimately offers a counter-argument to Intergovernmentalist positions traditionally dominating European Union studies.

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