Case Study: The Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change

Caroline Fehl

in Living with a Reluctant Hegemon

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199608621
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731730 | DOI:
Case Study: The Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change

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In the negotiations preceding the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, the European Union accommodated US demands for softer emission reduction targets and flexibility provisions to win its backing. Yet when the new Bush administration rejected the agreement, the EU took the leadership to bring it in force without US participation. The chapter shows that these responses to US climate policy are well explained by concerns for treaty effectiveness. While accommodating the US in the original negotiations came at a high environmental cost, it would have been more detrimental to lose the largest emitter of greenhouse gases. After the US withdrawal, however, non-hegemonic cooperation was more beneficial than the alternative of abandoning the protocol, particularly because European negotiators hoped for an eventual US return to the Kyoto framework. The perception that the US withdrawal violated norms of equity and appropriate diplomatic conduct additionally hardened the European resolve to rescue Kyoto, despite business concerns about potential competitive disadvantages.

Keywords: climate change; global warming; Kyoto Protocol; emissions trading; hot air; equity; European Union

Chapter.  14282 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: International Relations

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