Reflections on the Durban outcome and the EU’s role in brokering a deal

Over on his website, Simon Maxwell looks at the outcome of the climate talks in Durban, focusing  on the central role played by the EU. Simon notes:

“The most interesting aspect for me is the role of the EU in brokering this deal, first by developing the idea of a ‘road-map’ to a post-Kyoto framework, and second by stitching together an alliance across the traditional dividing lines of Annex 1, Annex 2 and non-Annex 1 countries, as well as large and small emitters. I can’t say that I have studied the internal EU processes in any detail, nor been able to disentangle the role of European institutions versus Member States, but at first sight Connie Hedegaard, the EU Climate Commissioner, deserves a great deal of credit. There are a couple of implications.

First, Durban may well provide a case study of why it is sensible for Member States to work together through the EU, and of how to do it. At a time of political crisis in Europe, there are valuable lessons about the benefits of developing an EU-wide vision and set of targets, as well as specific instruments like the European Emissions Trading Scheme, however flawed (but NB worth celebrating and defending, especially given the current row with the Chinese, Americans and others about bringing airline emissions into the Scheme). Are there implications for development ministers working on climate change, but also more widely?

Second, it is interesting to speculate whether and how EU momentum will be sustained. Is it sensible to think, for example, that the global public good would be served if EU Member States concentrated more of their climate change energy through Brussels institutions rather than bilaterally – giving Connie Hedegaard more bargaining power in the negotiations over a new treaty? From a development angle, there might be implications for the funding of the EU’s Global Climate Change Alliance, so far very poorly funded, and for the allocation of bilateral funds, like the UK’s International Climate Fund.”

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