Keywords: climate change, policies, Europe, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, national planning, EU policies, European Union
Climate change policies in Europe: national plans, EU policies, and the international context
Climate change policies in Europe can be characterised by two broad, though certainly not universal, consensuses. The first is that climate change is a serious problem. The second is that we should not do anything serious about it. This paper examines the characteristics of, and pressures on, each of these two consensuses, and explores where the obvious tension that is embodied in them may lead. Four main themes are addressed: (i) development of the scientific debate since 1990, the year in which all the major political declarations in Europe were made and in which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) produced its First Assessment Report; (ii) the international processes that influence national positions: the IPCC itself, and the processes associated with the Convention and the first meeting of the Conference of Parties in March 1995 in Berlin; (iii) the national plans and projections on climate change submitted by countries under the Convention, and what they and other factors indicate about the prospects for national trends and policies; (iv) the role of the European Union and prospects for European wide policies.