COP21 podium at press room 3

COP21 podium. Photo credit: Mark Dixon

Developing countries need a robust deal at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris, as well as an ambitious action plan to ramp up action afterwards. The EU can help finalise the deal by offering more in the key negotiating fora, especially on adaptation support and finance.

This briefing note from the European Think Tanks Group (ODI, DIE, ECDPM, FRIDE and IDDRI) looks at the challenges and opportunities for EU climate action. Climate change and energy have become central issues in foreign and security policy, and the EU needs to look beyond 2030 and focus on sustainability issues up to 2050, both within Europe and beyond its borders.

The EU played a clever game at the climate talks in South Africa last year, but faces a difficult task this yeaSad Earth_jpgr in Doha. In this blog, Louise van Schaik asks if Connie Hedegaard, the EU Commissioner for Climate Change, will be able to hold the progressive alliance together, and build momentum for a global deal in 2015? Or will the talks end once more in recrimination between developed and developing countries?

A new Working Paper by Louise van Schaik for ODI and the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) examines the behaviour of the EU in international climate talks and explores how the EU could act as a positive force for creating consensus around collective action in the future.

The paper uses international relations theory to analyse the EU’s alliance with groups of developing countries in December 2011. This alliance facilitated a significant breakthrough in the talks: agreement on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, which commits Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to agreeing an inclusive global climate deal by 2015.

Read the paper here.

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.”

To read more, click here.

The Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) was created by the European Commission in 2007 to support poor developing countries most vulnerable to climate change through dialogue and financial and technical cooperation. In this new study, Elizabeth Colebourn, examines the history and activities of the GCCA and reflects on some of the key challenges facing the alliance.

To read the full study click here

ODI participated in the final EDC2020 event on Friday 11th February in Brussels. This was an opportunity to present the results of three years of collaborative research from think-tanks across Europe.  The project had three areas of focus: The impact of new actors in international development; energy security, democracy and political development; and climate change and European development cooperation.  For more information, and to find EDC2020 publications, visit the project’s website here.

For a copy of EDCSP’s trip report of the final event, click here.