Scapegoat European Union?

Institut für Europäische Politik

Severin Fischer, Meike Löhr and Julian Schwartzkopff
 
In Germany, the outcome of the Copenhagen conference led to a variety of different interpretations. Chancellor Angela Merkel and the German government described the result with “mixed feelings”,[1] while environmental associations and opposition politicians called it a “disaster”[2] with a “disillusioning and insufficient result”.[3] Europe gave up its leading role on climate protection without even fighting for it, Reinhard Bütikofer (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) argued,[4] whereas the Social Democrats (SPD) accused China and the United States of not being cooperative enough.[5] Hubert Weiger, head of BUND, one of Germany’s most influential environmental NGOs, clearly expressed his disappointment about the EU being responsible for Copenhagen’s failure. The EU should have been an example for others, but stranded.[6] Germanwatch, another environmental NGO, argued that the “negotiating poker failed due to the misguided strategy pursued by central actors”.[7] Accordingly, the EU did not take over a leadership role.
 
Before the beginning of the Copenhagen conference, the media criticised the EU for not being able to put a concrete offer on the table on how to finance mitigation and adaptation measures in developing countries.[8] During the conference, the EU was blamed for the absence of a common European position in general.[9] After the summit, the EU was accused for having negotiated clumsily.[10] This also corresponds to the German call for improvements in the EU’s strategy and policy. On the one hand, the EU has to avoid misjudgements of global interests and true intentions in the future, especially regarding China and the United States, in order to bring its influence to bear.[11] On the other hand, changes have to be made on CO2 emissions reductions, as the EU failed to set concrete medium- and long-term targets, as environment Minister Norbert Röttgen, Christian Democratic Union (CDU), put it.[12] He claims that the EU now has to take further steps and propose an unconditional 30 percent CO2 emissions reduction by 2020 instead of sticking to its hitherto decided 20 percent reduction in CO2 emissions.[13] Germany’s national target, however, goes even further, aiming at a 40 percent reduction by 2020[14] in order to benefit from early investments in low-carbon technologies.[15] This 40 percent target is generally backed by the government, although some ministers such as Rainer Brüderle,[16] Free Democratic Party (FDP), fear negative impacts for the economy.[17]The Social Democrats (SPD) also support the target, while even aiming towards a 80-95 percent CO2 reduction in the long-term.[18] The Left Party (DIE LINKE) aspires to a reduction of at least 50 percent by 2020.[19] At the same time, the Federation of German Industry (BDI) warns about setting a 40 percent target.[20] BDI-President Hans-Peter Keitl argues that it would negatively affect the competitiveness of German companies, cost jobs and would not improve global climate protection in general.[21] In order to tackle the problem of carbon leakage and accelerate low-carbon investments outside of Europe, France and Belgium started a discussion about the introduction of a carbon border tax. Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen describes trade restrictions as an inappropriate instrument for achieving environmental aims[22] and Matthias Machnig (SPD), economy minister of Thuringia, also disagrees with the effectiveness of this proposal, calling it “eco-imperialism”.[23] In Germany, most politicians prefer other instruments to create a level playing field with international competitors.
 
There is a clear preference for a binding agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on the part of the German government.[24] Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen (CDU) is still optimistic and sees the climate conferences to be held this year in Bonn and Cancún as essential steps towards such an agreement.[25] At the same time, the government admits to having misjudged the real distribution of power in Copenhagen and plans to forge new alliances.[26] Developing countries and emerging economies in particular should thus be engaged more actively by the EU in order to contest China’s role as self-proclaimed leader of the developing world.[27]
 
In order to rectify these mistakes and give new impetus to the UN negotiations, Germany hosted the Petersberg Climate Dialogue together with the Mexican government from 2-4 May 2010 in Bonn, Germany. This informal conference of the 43 countries representing the major negotiating blocks during COP15 was set up to reinvigorate international climate policy and to rebuild trust among the negotiating parties.[28] The parliamentary opposition nevertheless claimed this informal summit to be a failure. According to the Social Democratic[29] and Green[30] parliamentary groups, the conference has not produced any concrete results. On top of that, they argue that the governing coalition is cutting back on climate protection at home and has accordingly lost credibility on the international stage. Civil society groups like Germanwatch, Oxfam and Greenpeace largely agree that the government’s climate policy undermines the international negotiations.[31] At the same time, even the critics concede that the informal process itself has the potential to bring the UNFCCC negotiations forward.[32]
 
While the government stresses the need to keep negotiating within the UNFCCC, some media commentators criticise the UN process as “inefficient”, “time-consuming” and prone to instrumentalisation for “anti-western propaganda”.[33] They argue that climate negotiations should instead be conducted in the G20 or some other small forum.[34]
 
The German government affirms its willingness to support developing countries in their fight against climate change. Immediately before the Copenhagen conference, Germany offered to provide 420 million Euros per year from 2010 to 2012.[35] This figure stands as the German contribution to the overall EU commitment to provide 7.2 billion US-Dollars over the same period. Originally, the German government had refused to provide clear figures for climate finance before Copenhagen. Officials feared that this would weaken Germany’s capacity to extract concessions from third countries.[36] Therefore, the EU as a whole was not able to enter the Copenhagen conference with a concrete offer on financing, as requested by the Swedish Presidency.[37]
 
The German financial commitments are heavily criticised by the opposition and civil society groups. According to the current preliminary national budget, only 70 million of the climate-related funds for 2010 are new and additional.[38] The bulk of the money will be taken from existing budgets, primarily from development assistance funds. The Social Democratic Party,[39] the Green party[40] and NGOs like Germanwatch[41] and Oxfam[42] all agree in the assessment that this diminishes German credibility abroad and sets an alarming precedent for other industrialised countries.
 
The Federation of German Industry, on the other hand, argues that Germany, as a country with high emissions reduction targets, should not be expected to provide a disproportionately high amount of assistance to developing countries.[43]


[1] EurActiv.de: Schwacher Kompromiss in Kopenhagen, 19 December 2009, available at: http://www.euractiv.de/energie-klima-und-umwelt/artikel/schwacher-kompro... (last access: 26 April 2010).

[2] EurActiv.de: Katerstimmung nach Kopenhagen, 20 December 2009, available at: http://www.euractiv.de/energie-klima-und-umwelt/artikel/katerstimmung-na... (last access: 26 April 2010). See also: Pinzler, Petra: Endlich stark sein, Die Zeit, 11 February 2010.

[3] dradio.de: Unterschiedliche Reaktionen auf Klimakonferenz in Kopenhagen, 19 December 2009, available at: http://www.dradio.de/nachrichten/200912190300/2 (last access: 17 May 2010).

[4] Bütikofer, Reinhard: Kopenhagen: Endstation für Europas “Vorreiterrolle” im Klimaschutz?, Heinrich Böll Stiftung, 21 April 2010, available at: http://www.boell.de/oekologie/klima/klima-energie-reinhard-buetikofer-ko... (last access: 18 May 2010).

[5] Miersch, Matthias/Schwabe, Frank: Klimakonferenz in Kopenhagen. Der Klimagipfel in Kopenhagen ist gescheitert, SPD Fraktion, 21 December 2009, available at: http://www.spdfraktion.de/cnt/rs/rs_dok/0,,50013,00.html (last access: 18 May 2010).

[6] Cf. Fuehr, Herbert: EU hat beim Klima ihre Chance vertan, Nürnberger Nachrichten, 21 December 2009, available at: http://www.nn-online.de/artikel.asp?art=1144028&kat=3 (last access: 26 April 2010).

[7] Germanwatch: Climate summit in Copenhagen misses ist target,19 December 2009, available at: http://www.germanwatch.org/presse/2009-12-19e.htm (last access: 26 May 2010).

[8] Cf. EurActiv.de: EU verhandelt ohne konkretes Angebot in Kopenhagen, 30 October 2009, available at: http://www.euractiv.de/zukunft-und-reformen/artikel/eu-verhandelt-ohne-k... (last access: 28 April 2010).

[9] Cf. Boltzen, Stefanie/Schiltz, Christoph B.: Klima-Gipfel in Kopenhagen wartet auf Europa, Welt Online, 11 December 2009, available at: http://www.welt.de/die-welt/politik/article5494941/Klima-Gipfel-in-Kopen... (last access: 27 April 2010).

[10] Cf. Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung: Krise statt Krönung, 20 December 2009, available at: http://www.presseportal.de/pm/58964/1533648/neue_osnabruecker_zeitung (last access: 27 April 2010).

[11] Cf. Hönighaus, Reinhard: Die Lehren für Europa aus dem Klimagipfel, Financial Times Deutschland, 22 December 2009, available at: http://www.ftd.de/politik/international/:weltordnung-die-lehren-fuer-eur... (last access: 27 April 2010).

[12] Cf. Röttgen, Norbert: Den Klimawandel gestalten, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 30 April 2010, available at: http://www.bmu.de/presse/artikel_und_interviews/doc/45954.php (last access: 17 May 2010).

[13] Ibid.

[14] Cf. Die Klimapolitik der Bundesregierung, official website of the German government, available at: http://www.bundesregierung.de/Webs/Breg/un-klimakonferenz/DE/Klimapoliti... (last access: 6 May 2010).

[15] Cf. Stabenow, Michael: EU will “Koalition der Gleichgesinnten”, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 22 December 2009, available at: http://www.faz.net/s/RubC5406E1142284FB6BB79CE581A20766E/Doc~E3A0812B9C5... (last access: 28 April 2010).

[16] Cf. Kauch: CO2-Reduktion durch Auslandsprojekte muss zusätzlich sein – Höhn: Da wird sehr viel getrickst, Pressemappe, Phoenix, 3 December 2009, available at: http://www.presseportal.de/pm/6511/1523695/phoenix?search=fernsehen//// (last access: 17 May 2010).

[17] Cf. Süddeutsche Zeitung: Brüderle bremst beim Klimaschutz, 26 May 2010.

[18] Cf. SPD: Die Konferenz in Kopenhagen, available at: http://www.spd.de/de/politik/Weltklimakonferenz/Klimakonferenz.html (last access: 17 May 2010).

[19] Cf. CO2-Handel.de: Linke wollen Klimaschutzziele gesetzlich festschreiben, 5 May 2010, available at: http://www.co2-handel.de/article186_14218.html (last access: 25 May 2010).

[20] Cf. Bonse, Eric: Streit über Strafzölle für Klimasünder, Handelsblatt, 23 December 2009, available at: http://www.handelsblatt.com/politik/international/europaeische-union-str... (last access: 28 April 2010).

[21] Cf. Fichtner, Nikolai: Röttgen legt sich mit Industrie an, Financial Times Deutschland, 27 December 2009, available at: http://www.ftd.de/politik/deutschland/:klimaziel-40-prozent-roettgen-leg... (last access 29 April 2010).

[22] Cf. Stabenow, Michael: EU will “Koalition der Gleichgesinnten”, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 22 December 2009, available at: http://www.faz.net/s/RubC5406E1142284FB6BB79CE581A20766E/Doc~E3A0812B9C5... (last access: 28 April 2010).

[23] Cf. Liebert, Nicola: CO2-Zölle sollen das Klima retten, taz, 17 January 2010, available at: http://www.taz.de/1/zukunft/umwelt/artikel/1/co2-zoelle-sollen-das-klima... (last access: 28 April 2010).

[24] Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety: Röttgen: “Wichtiger Schritt für die internationalen Klimaverhandlungen”, press release No. 014/10, 2 February 2010, available at: http://www.bmu.de/pressemitteilungen/aktuelle_pressemitteilungen/pm/4559... (last access: 14 May 2010).

[25] Handelsblatt: Streit über Strafzölle für Klimasünder, 23 December 2009, available at: http://www.handelsblatt.com/politik/international/europaeische-union-str... (last access: 14 May 2010).

[26] EurActiv.de: Katerstimmung nach Kopenhagen, 20 December 2009, available at: http://www.euractiv.de/energie-klima-und-umwelt/artikel/katerstimmung-na... (last access: 14 May 2010). See also EurActiv.de: Schwacher Kompromiss in Kopenhagen, 19 December 2009, available at: http://www.euractiv.de/energie-klima-und-umwelt/artikel/schwacher-kompro... (last access: 14 May 2010).

[27] Röttgen, Nobert: Den Klimawandel gestalten, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 30 April 2010, available at: http://www.bmu.de/presse/artikel_und_interviews/doc/45954.php (last access: 14 May 2010). See also Norbert Röttgen: Es geht um die Zukunftsmärkte, interviewed by Holger Möhle, Generalanzeiger Bonn, 5 February 2010, available at: http://www.general-anzeiger-bonn.de/index.php?k=news&itemid=10028&detail... (last access: 14 May 2010).

[28] Röttgen, Nobert: Den Klimawandel gestalten, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 30 April 2010, available at: http://www.bmu.de/presse/artikel_und_interviews/doc/45954.php (last access: 14 May 2010). See also: Wyssuwa, Matthias: Subglobale Allianzen der Willigen, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, available at: http://www.faz.net/s/Rub8ABC7442D5A84B929018132D629E21A7/Doc~EDA0686B892... (last access: 14 May 2010).

[29] SPD parliamentary group: Glaubwürdige Klimapolitik sieht anders aus, press release, 6 May 2010, available at: http://www.spdfraktion.de/cnt/rs/rs_dok/0,,52033,00.html (last access: 14 May 2010).

[30] Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, parliamentary group: Petersberger Dialog: Vertrauen schaffen braucht mehr als schöne Bilder, press release, 4 May 2010, available at: http://www.gruene-bundestag.de/cms/presse/dok/338/338618.petersberger_di... (last access: 14 May 2010).

[31] Presseanzeiger: Germanwatch, Oxfam, WWF und Greenpeace kommentieren Petersberger Klimadialog, 2 May 2010, available at: http://www.presseanzeiger.de/meldungen/politik/339707.php (last access: 14 May 2010).

[32] SPD parliamentary group: Glaubwürdige Klimapolitik sieht anders aus, press release, 6 May 2010, available at: http://www.spdfraktion.de/cnt/rs/rs_dok/0,,52033,00.html (last access: 14 May 2010). See also Presseanzeiger: Germanwatch, Oxfam, WWF und Greenpeace kommentieren Petersberger Klimadialog, 2 May 2010, available at: http://www.presseanzeiger.de/meldungen/politik/339707.php (last access: 14 May 2010).

[33] Frankenberger, Klaus-Dieter: Neue machtpolitische Realitäten, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 7 January 2010, available at: www.faz.net/s/Rub7FC5BF30C45B402F96E964EF8CE790E1/Doc~EE8241915F6A24F9A9... (last access: 14 May 2010). See also Hönighaus, Reinhard: Die Lehren für Europa aus dem Klimagipfel, Financial Times Deutschland, 22 December 2009, available at: http://www.ftd.de/politik/international/:weltordnung-die-lehren-fuer-eur... (last access: 14 May 2010).

[34] Minkmar, Nils: Erspart uns doch endlich den Kitsch, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 20 December 2009, available at: http://www.faz.net/s/RubCF3AEB154CE64960822FA5429A182360/Doc~EB4B2FC8630... (last access 14 May 2010). See also Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung: Kommentar zum Klimagipfel, 20 December 2009, available at: http://www.presseportal.de/pm/58964/1533648/neue_osnabruecker_zeitung (last access 14 May 2010).

[35] Spiegel Online: Milliarden-Versprechen: EU bessert Klimahilfe für Entwicklungsländer nach, 11 December 2009, available at: http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/natur/0,1518,666573,00.html (last access: 14 May 2010).

[36] Bolzen, Stefanie/Christoph B. Schiltz: Klima-Gipfel in Kopenhagen wartet auf Europa, available at: http://www.welt.de/die-welt/politik/article5494941/Klima-Gipfel-in-Kopen... (last access: 14 May 2010).

[37] EurActiv.de: EU verhandelt ohne konkretes Angebot in Kopenhagen, 30 October 2009, available at: http://www.euractiv.de/zukunft-und-reformen/artikel/eu-verhandelt-ohne-k... (last access: 14 May 2010).

[38] Seidler, Christoph: Gekürzte Finanzhilfen: Regierung knausert bei Klimaschutz-Zahlungen an arme Länder, Spiegel Online, 5 March 2010, available at: http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/natur/0,1518,681989,00.html (last access: 14 May 2010).

[39] SPD parliamentary group: Klima-Zusagen aus Kopenhagen werden nicht eingehalten, press release, 5 March 2010, available at: http://www.spdfraktion.de/cnt/rs/rs_dok/0,,51212,00.html (last access: 14 May 2010).

[40] Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, parliamentary group: Schwarz-Gelb bricht Kopenhagen-Zusage, press release, 5 March 2010, available at: http://www.gruene-bundestag.de/cms/presse/dok/330/330538.schwarzgelb_bri... (last access: 14 May 2010).

[41] Germanwatch: Koalitionsfraktionen verwässern Klimaversprechen der Bundesregierung, press release, 5 March 2010.

[42] Oxfam: UN-Klimaabkommen: Kommentar zum Haushaltsausschuss des deutschen Bundestags, press release, 4 March 2010, available at: http://www.oxfam.de/presse/100304-un-klimaabkommen-kommentar-zum-haushal... (last access: 14 May 2010).

[43] Federation of German Industry: Klimaschutz nach Kopenhagen – mit Investitionen und Innovationen auf dem Weg in eine Low Carbon Economy, position paper, available at: http://www.bdi-online.de/BDIONLINE_INEAASP/iFILE.dll/X323FFA10CD33430B98... (last access: 14 May 2010).

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