The European Union in International Climate Change Politics: Still Taking a Lead?, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The European Union in International Climate Change Politics

Still Taking a Lead?, 1st Edition

Edited by Rudiger K.W. Wurzel, James Connelly, Duncan Liefferink


312 pages | 7 B/W Illus.

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In recent years climate change has emerged as an issue of central political importance while the EU has become a major player in international climate change politics. How can a ‘leaderless Europe’ offer leadership in international climate change politics - even in the wake of the UK’s Brexit decision?

This book, which has been written by leading experts, offers a critical analysis of the EU leadership role in international climate change politics. It focuses on the main EU institutions, core EU member states and central societal actors (businesses and environmental NGOs). It also contains an external perspective of the EU’s climate change leadership role with chapters on China, India and the USA as well as Norway. Four core themes addressed in the book are: leadership, multilevel and polycentric governance, policy instruments, and the green and low carbon economy. Fundamentally, it asks why we have EU institutional actors, why certain member states and particular societal actors tried to take on a leadership role in climate change politics and how, if at all, have they managed to achieve this?

This text will be of key interest to scholars, students and practitioners in EU studies and politics, international relations, comparative politics and environmental politics.


'This is a clear, well written, sophisticated and comprehensive assessment of the EU’s role in international climate change politics. Bringing together the leading experts, it explores all the various facets of this role – including how it is perceived by others – and manages to do so in a theoretically informed way that adds to our understanding of leadership in in international politics. I recommend it wholeheartedly.' - Anand Menon, Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs, King’s College London, UK

'This book addresses a topic of high political and academic relevance, based on a highly innovative analytical framework – a standard read for anyone interested in international climate change politics.' - Christoph Knill, Professor of Empirical Theories of Politics, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany

'This volume makes substantial contributions to our understanding of the EU roles in global politics, Europe’s ability to provide global leadership, and the impediments to such leadership. Rather than simply assume or assert EU leadership, authors explore different leadership types and styles, enabling analyses that find clear leadership success in some cases and circumstances, while identifying failure and limitations elsewhere. The book should be read by scholars, students and European policymakers alike.' - Stacy VanDeveer, Professor of Political Science, University of New Hampshire

Table of Contents

Part I: Introduction

1. Introduction: European Union Climate Leadership [Rüdiger K.W. Wurzel, Duncan Liefferink and James Connelly]

2. Global Climate Politics: Can the EU be an Actor? [John Vogler]

Part II: EU Institutions

3. The Commission’s Shifting Climate Leadership: From Emissions Trading to Energy Union [Jon Birger Skjærseth]

4. The European Parliament and Climate Change: A Constrained Leader? [Charlotte Burns]

5. The Council and the European Council: Stuck on the Road to Transformational Leadership [Claire Dupont and Sebastian Oberthür] 

Part III: Member States and Neighbouring European States

6. Denmark: Small State with Big Voice and Bigger Dilemmas [Mikael Skou Andersen and Helle Ørsted Nielsen]

7. French Climate Policy: Diplomacy in the Service of Symbolic Leadership? [Pierre Bocquillon and Aurélien Evrard]

8. Germany: Innovation and Climate Leadership [Martin Jänicke]

9. The Netherlands: A Case of Fading Leadership [Duncan Liefferink, Daan Boezeman and Heleen de Coninck]

10. Poland’s Clash Over Energy and Climate Policy: Green Economy or Grey Status Quo? [Karolina Jankowska]

11. Spanish Climate Change Policy in a Changing Landscape [Israel Solorio]

12. The United Kingdom: A Record of Leadership under Threat [Tim Rayner and Andrew Jordan]

13. Norway: A Dissonant Cognitive Leader? [Elin Lerum Boasson and Bård Lahn]

Part IV: Civil Society: Business and Environmental Groups

14. Business: Greening at the Edges [Wyn Grant]

15. Environmental NGOs: Pushing For Leadership [Rüdiger K.W. Wurzel, James Connelly and Elizabeth Monaghan]

Part V: Europe and the Wider World

16. United States: The Challenge of Global Climate Leadership in a Politically Divided State [Guri Bang and Miranda Schreurs]

17. China: From A Marginalized Follower to an Emerging Leader in Climate Politics [Xinlei Li]

18. India: The Global Climate Power Torn Between ‘Growth-First’ and ‘Green Growth’ [Kirsten Jörgensen]

Part VI: Conclusion

19. Conclusion: Re-Assessing European Union Climate Leadership [Rüdiger K.W. Wurzel, Duncan Liefferink and James Connelly]

About the Editors

Rüdiger K.W. Wurzel is Professor of Comparative European Politics and Jean Monnet Chair in European Union Studies in the School of Law and Politics, University of Hull.

James Connelly is Professor of Political Theory, School of Law and Politics, University of Hull.

Duncan Liefferink is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Sciences of the Environment, Institute of Management Research, at Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in European Foreign Policy

It is a timely moment to launch a new series on European foreign policy. Europe and the EU now face multiple challenges including: conflict in the Middle East and the rise of radical jihadist groups like Islamic State; assertive Russian action in Ukraine and other countries on the EU’s eastern borders; the strategic ambitions of rising powers; and the euro crisis’ impact on the EU’s global power.

Additionally, the Union’s own internal institutional processes have undergone far-reaching change in recent years and a plethora of new strategies has been introduced covering Asia, trade, counter-terrorism, democracy and human rights, geo-economics, and other regions and topics.

This series will address the standard range of conceptual and theoretical questions related to European foreign policy. At the same time, in response to the intensity of new policy developments, it endeavors to ensure that it also has a topical flavor, addressing the most important and evolving challenges to European foreign policy, in a way that will be relevant to the policy-making and think-tank communities.

Key topics include:

  • The EU’s responses to the emergence of a new geopolitics in the Middle East;

  • European and EU policy towards the east, as it grapples with conflict in Ukraine and instability elsewhere across the region covered by the Eastern Partnership;

  • Europe’s changing engagement with rising powers, and in particular with Asia;

  • Transatlantic relations;

  • The foreign policy impact of the EU’s internal crisis;

  • The new Energy Union, energy security and climate change;

  • Europe’s relationship to its southern neighbours in the Mediterranean and in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa.

If you have an idea for a new book in Routledge Series on Dissent and Crises in World Politics, please send a written proposal to the Series Editors:

Professor Richard G. Whitman is Professor of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent.

Professor Richard YOUNGS is Professor of International Relations at the University of Warwick and Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.



For guidance on how to structure your proposal, please visit:


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