Chapter

From Reluctance to Engagement

Diarmuid Torney

in European Climate Leadership in Question

Published by The MIT Press

Published in print September 2015 | ISBN: 9780262029360
Published online January 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780262329606 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/9780262029360.003.0005
From Reluctance to Engagement

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This chapter traces the development of EU-China relations on climate change and makes three principal arguments. First, the more general development of EU climate change policy generated an attempt by the EU to engage with China on climate change, but this was shaped by the development of the broader EU-China relationship. The inauguration of a so-called “strategic partnership” in 2003 generated a dynamic towards the creation of institutionalized EU-China dialogue and cooperation across a wide variety of policy areas. However, as the 2000s progressed the broader EU-China relationship grew increasingly fractious, and this to some extent shaped the development of engagement on climate change as well. Second, EU engagement with China took the form of a combination of institutionalized dialogue and incentive-based capacity building. However, these were limited by a lack of EU capabilities. Furthermore, while climate change was given high rhetorical priority in EU engagement with China, there is no significant evidence that there was a serious attempt to ensure coherence between other policy areas and the EU’s priorities on climate change. Third, the response of the Chinese Government was characterized by limited normative emulation and lesson-drawing, and also by significant instances of resistance. This resistance was particularly evident with respect to the international climate change negotiations and the inclusion of international aviation in the EU-ETS. Thus, the EU exercised very limited leadership through its engagement with China on climate change, and only then under favourable conditions. Moreover, in significant respects China chose not to be influenced by the EU.

Keywords: European Union; China; EU-China; Climate change; UNFCCC; Environment; Leadership; Followership

Chapter.  18627 words. 

Subjects: Environment

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