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How Europe can and should become the guardian of the Paris Agreement on climate change

Abstract : Environmental issues have become one of the most salient topics on the political agenda. This is due to near-unanimous consensus amongst the scientific community that all types of environmental degradation, particularly the release of greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere leading to climate change, represent a threat to life on Earth. Nonetheless, until recently, progress on finding political solutions to environmental problems has been remarkably slow. This is often linked to fears that environmental regulation may hamper economic development. Europe has always been an exception in this regard, as from the 1960s onward, it has gradually succeeded in enacting some of the most comprehensive environmental legislation in the world. All the while, Europe has maintained steady economic development, demonstrating that the two can be reconciled and are in fact mutually reinforcing. Since the 1990s, Europe has relied on this solid base to play a leading role in the emerging global climate regime. This has been critical in shaping the European Union’s identity and incipient foreign policy as a normative power engaged in multilateral diplomacy to shape the international agenda. Following decades of laborious negotiations, the international community finally reached a new accord to tackle climate change during the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) held in Paris in 2015. The so-called ‘Paris Agreement’, signed by 195 countries, represents the most comprehensive and far-reaching climate accord ever achieved. Consequently, President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement in June 2017 sent shockwaves through the international community. How should the EU respond to this setback? This paper will provide recommendations on how Europe can and should become the guardian of the Paris Agreement. The first part of the paper will focus on the historical context of Europe’s role in climate diplomacy up to the Paris Agreement. The second section will analyze the strengths and weaknesses of EU and member state environmental policies, demonstrating how Europe is committed to lead by example, inciting further international climate action. The last section will examine how leading by example will provide Europe with the authority to position itself at the heart of the global climate regime, building a network of robust partnerships with countries around the world to compensate for US disengagement.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, September 11, 2018 - 10:03:44 AM
Last modification on : Friday, July 2, 2021 - 1:59:53 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - 1:01:15 PM

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Arnault Barichella. How Europe can and should become the guardian of the Paris Agreement on climate change. European Issues Fondation Robert Schuman, 2017, pp.1 - 10. ⟨hal-01871608⟩

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