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European Climate Leadership in QuestionPolicies toward China and India$
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Diarmuid Torney

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780262029360

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262029360.001.0001

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From Reluctance to Engagement

From Reluctance to Engagement

The EU-China Relationship

(p.97) 5 From Reluctance to Engagement
European Climate Leadership in Question

Diarmuid Torney

The MIT Press

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

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