European Climate Leadership in Question: Policies toward China and India (Earth System Governance)

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An analysis of the European Union's engagement with China and India on climate change policy that sheds light on Europe's claim to international climate leadership.

The European Union has long portrayed itself as an international leader on climate change. In this book, the first systematic assessment of Europe's claim to climate leadership, Diarmuid Torney analyzes the EU's engagement with China and India on climate policies from 1990 to the present.

Torney develops an analytical framework for assessing EU climate leadership that charts the factors driving the EU's engagement with China and India, the form of the engagement, and the Chinese and Indian response. He argues that EU engagement was driven by a desire to build its international role, growing concern regarding climate impacts, and an interest in the economic opportunities provided by the transition to a low-carbon global economy. European engagement with China and India took the form of institutionalized dialogue and capacity-building, with more extensive contact with China than with India. He finds little evidence of coherence between the EU's external climate change policies and other policy areas. Indeed, the overriding priority in both relationships was the deepening of trade.

Torney shows that China responded to the EU with limited normative emulation and lesson drawing; India's principal response was resistance. He argues that both European leadership on climate change and Chinese and Indian "followership" were severely constrained by a variety of factors, including the nature and extent of the EU's capabilities and the domestic politics, normative frames, and material interests of China and India, which did not align with the EU's agenda.

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About the Author:

Diarmuid Torney is Lecturer in International Relations in the School of Law and Government at Dublin City University.


This book is a stunning achievement. At a time of growing tensions in the international climate negotiations, Torney's European Climate Leadership in Question examines Europe's troubled efforts to engage emerging powers in a global climate deal. Based on a carefully crafted empirical study of EU relations with China and India, this book offers novel insights into what it takes to be a successful leader in global environmental politics.

(Robert Falkner, Associate Professor of International Relations, London School of Economics and Political Science, and editor of The Handbook of Global Climate and Environment Policy)

By shedding light on the EU's dealings with China and India on climate change, this important book makes a weighty contribution to advancing our understanding of increasingly prominent bilateral relations in international climate politics and in world politics at large.

(Sebastian Oberthür, Academic Director, Institute for European Studies, Vrije Universiteit Brussel)

Climate leadership is desperately needed and widely discussed yet poorly understood. In this rich and empirically grounded comparative study of the EU's bilateral climate relations with China and India, Diarmuid Torney provides some much needed conceptual clarity on the relationship between would-be leaders and followers, and how climate leadership might be better achieved by the EU in its external relations. This book provides valuable lessons for not only climate diplomats but also climate champions in all walks of life who are seeking to build political support across national boundaries.

(Robyn Eckersley, Professor and Head of Political Science, University of Melbourne)

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