Global climate change has become one of the greatest challenges of our times. The UN has started to tackle this global challenge as a security issue. Respecting the initiative and role of the UN, the EU has played a strong leadership role for global climate change by proactively setting international agendas, implementing emissions reductions, and helping poor countries adapt to climate change. Clearly, it has responded more actively to global climate change than any other countries in the world. Although China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, is now seeking to take climate change leadership, its policy response is still limited compared to the EU. This thesis aims to examine which factors make the EU take more active climate change policy. It will find out why a country’s soft power is the main determinant to enable the country to respond more actively to global climate change. For the research, we will look into the following four factors: (1) vulnerability to impacts of climate change on security; (2) understanding of global climate change (as a source of soft power); (3) economic power (as a source of hard power); and (4) democracy in politics and society (as a source of soft power).
Climate change has become one of the greatest global challenges facing the world. The Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says clearly that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal” and that global warming is closely linked to human activities. The report also states that anthropogenic warming with “altered frequencies and intensities of extreme weather” is expected to “have mostly adverse effects on natural and human systems.” The severity of the problem has been strongly outlined by national and international leaders as well as many scientists in the world. Putting the issue as a top priority among many urgent global problems, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has consistently called for more active international efforts to fight climate change as a serious threat to the entire world. He said: “Climate change, and how we address it, will define us, our era and ultimately the global legacy we leave for future generations.”
Hans Günter Brauch argues that “the year 2007 was a turning point in the reconceptualization of security dabate” when the IPCC released its fourth report. According to him, the IPCC report “set the stage for a global debate on the security implications of three different climate-induced worlds: (1) of a global average increase of temperature up to 2°C by 2100 which the European Union hopes to achieve; (2) of a global average increase of temperature up to 4°C by 2100; or (3) of a global average increase of temperature up to 6°C by the end of this century which would seriously impact on the well-being and survival of humankind, and thus also on security policy.” In April 2007, for the first time in its history, the United Nations Security Council invited over 50 delegations around the world and held a debate on “the impact of climate change on security” which aimed at examining the relationship between climate change and security. Respecting the IPCC report, many delegations in the debate called for the UN to urgently address the issue by convening a global summit.
In October 2007, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to both the IPCC and Al Gore for their efforts to fight global climate change. By awarding the prize for the year, the Norwegian Nobel Committee emphasized that climate change was increasingly addressed as a serious security issue by stating that the Committee was “seeking to contribute to a sharper focus on the processes and decisions that appear to be necessary to protect the world’s future climate, and thereby to reduce the threat to the security of mankind.” Those international events show that “since the early 21st century climate change has increasingly been perceived as a security problem” and that “the IPCC has indirectly become a major ‘securitizing actor’ by upgrading climate change to an ‘external threat’ to different referent objects from the international community (global, international and regional security), the state (state or national security), and humankind (human and gender security).”
In 2005, Mark Leonard published a book titled “Why Europe will Run the 21st Century” and stressed out the role of the EU as a global leader to tackle new challenges facing the world. By examining various aspects of the EU, he says that “the need for global institutions is as great now as it was after World War II. And it is the EU that is taking the lead in building and modernizing them.” Most of all, he argues that the EU would be a ‘true’ leader “not because Europe will run the world as an empire, but because the European way of doing things will have become the world’s.”
There is no doubt that the EU has taken a leadership role in setting international agendas and providing advanced ideas for solving global problems. As Jeremy Rifkin says, “we’re going to have to get used to the idea that the European Union has its own global agenda and its own dream about the kind of world it would like to fashion – that dream won’t always coincide with our own.”
Holding climate talks from Rio, Kyoto to Copenhagen, the UN has called for concerted international action to address global climate change. As mentioned above, the UN regards the global challenge as a high priority issue by emphasizing the impacts of climate change on security. Respecting the role of the UN, the EU has taken active climate change policies by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pushing for binding emissions targets at the UN climate meetings. Pinder and Usherwood argue that “the EU’s action with respect to climate change has a powerful impact, both internally and in the wider world” and that, especially for the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, the EU played a strong climate change leadership role. They write:
The EU has made the major contribution to international efforts to deal with global climate change. In 1986, when it had become evident that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) could destroy the ozone layer and thus endanger life on Earth, the EC succeeded inn breaking a deadlock in negotiations for the Montreal Protocol to the UN Convention on Climate Change, thus halting the degradation. Then in 1997 the Union played the leading part in the negotiations for the UNFCCC’s Kyoto Protocol to stem the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which are generating a potentially disastrous degree of global warming. Despite intractable American resistance to targets as well as to the assistance required by developing countries for the necessary technological transformation, the EU ensured that there was agreement on the target of cutting emissions by 8% below 1990 emissions by 2012. It also secured sufficient ratifications, in the teeth of energetic American opposition, for the Protocol to enter into force in February 2005; and the final ratification required was that of Russia, which appears to have been encouraged by the Union’s use of an instrument of its common commercial policy, as the EU almost simultaneously reciprocated with its formal acceptance of Russia’s coveted entry into the WTO.
The EU agrees that the industrial countries pumped most of the greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere and that they have to be more responsible for reducing them. It is now well aware that climate change is a security issue and one of many serious threats to the world. In March 2008, it issued its first official paper regarding climate change and its implications for international security. The report focused on “the impact of climate change on international security” and examined “the impact of these international security consequences for Europe’s own security, and how the EU should respond.” In the report, the EU regards itself as “a key proponent of effective multilateralism” for climate change cooperation and shows strong willingness of continuing its active role to address the impact of climate change on international security by: (1) enhancing capacities at the EU level; (2) strengthening EU multilateral leadership to promote global climate security; and (3) reinforcing cooperation with third countries.
Among global powers, China is now seeking to play a more active role in fighting global climate change. As the outcome of the Copenhagen summit of December 2009 shows, “China is now a player in the effort to combat climate change in a way it has never been, putting measurable emissions reductions targets on the table and accepting verification.” It seems clear that the world’s largest emitter has been trying to participate more actively in international climate negotiations than ever. Most of all, China’s status and influence in the G-77 have given it prominence in climate negotiations. China has been playing an important role as “a natural godfather to many of the Group of 77 countries” including not only tiny island states but also middle-income nations like Argentina because it has considerable investments in many developing countries in Africa and Latin America, “often involving lucrative deals to bring oil and minerals home.” Moreover, China is likely to continue to lead the developing world in the future climate negotiations.
However, according to Gorild Heggelund, who published an article about China’s climate change policy in 2007, global climate change is still regarded as a remote matter for the Chinese leadership, although China is now an active participant in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). She argues that global climate change is not considered to be a priority issue for the country’s influential policy makers because economic development, poverty alleviation, and social stability are top priorities for the Chinese government. Moreover, energy conservation and energy efficiency are also seen as more important priorities for the Chinese leadership to secure further economic growth. Heggelund concludes that China would not bring major policy changes in the near future focusing mainly on the economic perspective related to climate change.
Some Chinese scholars also believe that climate change has been treated by the central government as a development issue. In addition, they are critical of the fact that some local governments in China have taken their initiative to develop CDM projects. They explain that the main reason why the local governments have become interested in the development of CDM projects is that they expect that the CDM projects will bring financial benefits for local economic development, although they show little concern about climate change. In addition, they clearly point out that “the bottom-up approach that is occurring in the United States where various states and city governments are taking the lead is not seen in China” and that “in most provinces, this radical change (of local government responses to climate change) was neither a direct response to the threat of climate change nor the result of a growing awareness of climate change.”
As described above, China’s policy response to global climate change has been still limited when compared to the EU, although China is becoming more engaged in solving the global problem. The EU is clearly taking the lead in creating a low-carbon world by more actively introducing and implementing climate change polices. This thesis aims at examining why the EU’s policy response to global climate change has been more active than China’s. It would help us have better understanding of which factors of a country are the main factors to enable the country to take more active policy response to global climate change by focusing on: (1) vulnerability to impacts of climate change on security; (2) understanding of global climate change; (3) economic power; and (4) democracy in politics and society. Finally, it will show why the sources of soft power (understanding of global climate change and democracy in politics and society) are the main determinants for the EU’s active policy response to global climate change when compared to China.
As shown in the introduction, the EU has taken a lead in responding more actively to global climate change than any other countries in the world. It has also respected the role of the UN to promote climate cooperation internationally. Most of all, the EU has emphasized the impacts of climate change on security. Facing global climate change, China is now seeking to strengthen its climate leadership by expanding the country’s influence in international climate negotiations as we can see from the UN climate summit in Copenhagen. Its policy response to global climate change is, however, still limited when compared to the EU. This thesis asks why the EU’s policy response to global climate change has been more active than China’s. What are the main factors to influence the active policy response of the EU to global climate change? Among many factors considered for the research, how and to what extent can the sources of soft power influence the policy response to global climate change in both the EU and China?
Before examining our research question, let us first look at the concept of soft power. Soft power is the concept coined by Joseph S. Nye, who is University Distinguished Service Professor and former Dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. It has been now widely used by many scholars in international politics. In his 2002 book titled “The Paradox of American Power: Why The World’s Only Superpower Can’t Go It Alone,” he defined the concept as follows:
What precisely do I mean by soft power? Military power and economic power are both examples of hard command power that can be used to induce others to change their position. Hard power can rest on inducements (carrots) or threats (sticks). But there is also an indirect way to exercise power. A country may obtain the outcomes it wants in world politics because other countries want to follow it, admiring its values, emulating its example, aspiring to its level of prosperity and openness. In this sense, it is just as important to set the agenda in world politics and attract others as it is to force them to change through the threat or use of military or economic weapons. This aspect of power – getting others to want what you want – I call soft power. It co-opts people rather than coerces them.
And he further developed the concept by publishing another book in 2004 and has since then argued that soft power is “the means to success in world politics” as the title of the book indicates. Table 1 shows three types of power defined by Nye.
Table 1: Three Types of Power
Source: Nye 2004
In his 2004 book, Nye explains that “all three sources of power – military, economic, and soft – remain relevant, although in different degrees in different relationships.” However, he argues that “if the current economic and social trends of the information revolution continue, soft power will become more important in the mix.” According to him, the soft power of a country rests on primarily on three sources: its culture (in places where it is attractive to others), its political values (when it lives up to them at home and abroad), and its foreign policies (when they are seen as legitimate and having moral authority). In this sense, he regards that “democracy, human rights, openness, and respect for the opinion of others” are significant sources of soft power, along with culture and other domestic values. As we can see from Table 1, if a country’s soft power is stronger, it is likely to be more active in setting international agendas and promoting multilateral diplomacy.
What does Nye think of the EU’s soft power? He views that the EU has powerful soft power in term of its attractive culture, domestic values, multilateral cooperation, and public diplomacy. Most of all, he emphasizes that many European domestic policies including “policies on capital punishment, gun control, climate change, and the rights of homosexuals” are appealing to young people in modern democracies. And what does Nye think of China’s soft power? In an article published in 2005, he argued that China’s soft power was clearly rising with its military and economic power and that it was time for the United States to pay more attention to the rise of China’s soft power. However, he pointed out in the article: “China’s soft power still has a long way to go.” And he explained why China’s soft power was still limited compared to the US and the EU:
It lacks the many non-governmental organizations that generate much of America’s soft power. Politically, China suffers from corruption, inequality, and a lack of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. While that may make the ‘Beijing consensus’ attractive in authoritarian and semi-authoritarian developing countries, it undercuts China’s soft power in the West. Although China’s new diplomacy has enhanced its attractiveness to its neighbors in Southeast Asia, the continuing belligerence of its hard power stance Taiwan hurt it in Europe in early 2005. China’s efforts to persuade the Europeans to relax an embargo on the sale of arms imposed in the aftermath of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre foundered after its enactment of an anti-secession law mandating the use of force against Taiwan.
This research will start with examining the following dependant variable. It will show that the EU’s policy response to global climate change has been active than China’s by measuring several indicators:
DV: Active policy response of the EU to global climate change compared to China
Indicators to measure the degree of policy response to global climate change are:
Setting (or existence) of emissions targets and other commitments under the Kyoto Protocol
Setting of future emissions targets and other commitments for the post-Kyoto world
Financial offer for poor countries vulnerable to climate change after the Copenhagen summit (2010-2020)
After measuring the above dependant variable, we will then examine four independent variables chosen for the research as described briefly in the introduction. To examine each independent variable, we will measure related indicators by using reliable statistics, indexes, and other sources. The process of identifying and measuring the selected indicators will occur as below:
IV1: Vulnerability to impacts of climate change on security
Indicators of the degree of vulnerability to climate effects on security are:
Food security (> Food supply and Global Hunger Index)
Other climate effects
IV2: Understanding of global climate change (as a factor of soft power)
Indicators of the degree of understanding global climate change are:
Position of governments towards the relationship between climate change and security (> The UN Security Council’s first-ever debate on impacts of climate change on security)
Public awareness of global climate change (> Gallup poll)
IV3: Economic power (as a factor of hard power)
Indicators to measure economic power are:
GDP and economic growth rate
GDP per capita and standard of living
Preparation of Economy for a Low Carbon World (> Low Carbon Competitiveness Index)
IV4: Democracy in politics and society (as a factor of soft power)
Indicators of the degree of democracy in politics and society are:
Type of regime
Degree of corruption (> Corruption Perception Index)
Degree of freedom (> Freedom in the World)
Finally, the research will then evaluate the following hypotheses by comparing the EU and China:
H1: The degree of vulnerability of a country to impacts of climate change on security is not a main determinant to influence the country’s active policy response to global climate effects.
H2: The better aware of global climate change a country is, the more actively the country is likely to respond to global climate effects.
H3: The active policy response of a country to global climate change depends only partially on the country’s economic power.
H4: The higher the degree of democracy in a country is, the more active the country’s policy response to global climate change is expected to be.
By examining the four hypotheses, our expected result for the research would be:
The sources of soft power (IV2 and IV4) of a country have more influence on the country’s active policy response to global climate change, rather than the degree of vulnerability of the country to impacts of climate change on security (IV1) and the source of hard power (IV3). Therefore, this explains why the EU’s policy response to global climate change has been more active than China’s.
The main theory applied for the research is Nye’s soft power as explained already. As he argues, soft power will be more important than hard power including military and economic power. It is quite clear that both the US and the EU have strong soft power among many global powers. The Chinese government has already started to put more importance on improving its soft power to take a strong leadership role in the world. As Leonard writes, “one of the hottest buzz-words in Chinese foreign policy circles is ‘ruan quanli’ – the Chinese term for ‘soft power’. It is being promoted with far more zeal in Beijing that in Washington DC.” The soft power of China and other Asian countries including Japan, India, and Korea is likely to increase in the future. However, Nye says clearly that those Asian countries still lag in soft power resources behind the US and Europe.
If a country has strong soft power, the country is likely to take advantage of its attraction and agenda-setting role and promote multilateral diplomacy (See Table 1). On the contrary, if a country focuses mainly on hard power and has limited soft power, the country is likely to take limited polices for global issues using a mixed tool of coercion, deterrence, and inducement. Based on these clear differences in government policies for global issues affected by soft power, Figure 1 provides us with better understanding of why and how a country’s soft power can influence the country’s policy response to global climate change.
Figure 1: Soft Power and Policy Response to Global Climate Change
For the main research methodology, as we can see from the explanations above, this research will make a comparative study of the EU and China. According to the four independent variables, their selected indicators and, if necessary, sub-indicators will be carefully researched and comparatively measured. This will help test correlation between the independent and dependent variables by using reliable information from various national/international organizations, research institutes and NGOs. For example, for a data analysis of the (different) climate effects on security in China and the EU, the research will depend on and investigate the official documents and publications by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC: www.ipcc.ch) as well as the recent statistics and publications released by Ministry of Environment Protection of China (The main government body for environment: http://english.mep.gov.cn), Europa (The official website of the EU: http://europa.eu) and Eurostat (The statistical office of the EU: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu).
The mainly analyzed research materials are:
Publications of environment ministries, environmental NGOs, the EU institutions, the international organizations such as IPCC, UNEP, IMF, WTO, WHO, etc.;
Academic papers, journals, and books dealing with climate change and security issues;
Reliable indices (CPI, GHI, LCCI, etc.) issued by international institutions, research institutes and NGOs;
Articles from Foreign Affairs (published since 1970s), The New York Times (since 2007), BBC News (since 2007) and other influential media.
Chapter 3 makes comparative studies by examining the selected dependant and independent variables. First it will examine the dependant variable by demonstrating how the EU and China have responded to global climate change in different ways (3.1). Then it will examine the four independent variables by measuring related indicators: vulnerability to impacts of climate change on security (3.2), understanding of global climate change (3.3), economic power (3.4), and democracy in politics and society (3.5). This chapter will also show how and to what extent each independent variable can influence the dependant variable.
The first international agreement on cutting global greenhouse gas emissions established by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was not an easy task. One of the main reasons would be that greenhouse gas emissions are not evenly produced by countries. North America, Europe, and Asia now account for over 90% of the global industrially produced carbon dioxide. In addition, historically rich nations have emitted much more carbon dioxide than poor countries. That is why it is internationally agreed that rich countries should take main responsibilities of reducing global emissions and helping poor countries for their efforts to fight global climate change. The Copenhagen Accord of December 2009 also state clearly:
(Article) 3. (...) We agree that developed countries shall provide adequate, predictable and sustainable financial resources, technology and capacity-building to support the implementation of adaptation in developing countries.
7. (...) Developing countries, especially those with low emitting economies should be provided incentives to continue to develop on a low emission pathway.
8. (...) Funding for adaptation will be prioritized for the most vulnerable developing countries, such as the least developed countries, small island developing States and Africa.
We will now have a closer look at how the EU and China have responded to global climate change. To measure the degree of policy response to global climate change, we will examine the following factors:
Setting (or existence) of emissions targets and other commitments under the Kyoto Protocol
Setting of future emissions targets and other commitments for the post-Kyoto world
Financial offer for poor countries vulnerable to climate change after the Copenhagen summit (2010-2020)
3.1.1. Setting (or Existence) of Emission Reduction Targets and Other Commitments under the Kyoto Protocol
In December 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was first negotiated in Kyoto, Japan. On 16 February 2005, the Kyoto Protocol entered into force finally after its long negotiations when Russia accounting for 17 percent of 1990 emissions ratified the treaty, which could meet the requirement that at least 55 countries, representing at least 55% of the world’s total emissions for 1990, signed up to it. The goal of the Kyoto Protocol is to reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions to 5.2 percent below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. Although the US and Australia didn’t put their names to Kyoto, a majority of developed countries signed and ratified the international agreement to tackle global climate change. The major feature of the Kyoto Protocol is that it sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European Community for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Maslin argues that “the Kyoto Protocol must be recognized as a ground-breaking agreement as over 180 countries signed the global warming pact.” He emphasizes that “global warming can only be solved by binding international agreements to cut global greenhouse gas emissions.”
In 1998, the EU signed the Kyoto Protocol shortly after it was drawn up in Kyoto in 1997. It has set its binding target of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases by 8 percent during the period 2008-2012 compared with 1990 levels. And it has turned the treaty into law for all Member States to keep the EU’s emissions within the target. When the EU ratified the Kyoto Protocol on 31 May 2002, Margot Wallström, EU Commissioner for Environment, said:
This is an historic moment for global efforts to combat climate change. Following today's ratification by the EU and its Member States, the countries responsible for an important share of the industrialized world's emissions in 1990 are legally committed to the global framework to address climate change. The scientific evidence on climate change is stronger than ever. We all know that even the targets in the Kyoto Protocol are only a first step if we want to prevent the severe consequences that climate change could have. All countries have to act, but the industrialized countries have to take the lead. Climate change can only be tackled effectively through a multilateral process. I urge our partners both in the developed and in the developing countries to also ratify the Kyoto Protocol soon.
In 2005, the EU introduced the world’s first Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to control its greenhouse gas emissions more flexibly. The EU ETS allocated emissions permits among over 5,000 of the EU’s major industrial polluters, allowing those that use more, and thus creating a ‘carbon market’ which determines the cost of carbon within the EU. However, the emissions permits were evidently issued too generously. The European Commission is now finding ways to make the ETS function more effectively.
While individual targets for each of the EU-15 countries have been agreed under the EU burden sharing agreement (Council Decision 2002/358/EC), the new Member States have differing targets and often differing base years under the Kyoto Protocol. According to a technical report issued by the European Environment Agency in 2009, total greenhouse gas emissions in the EU‑15, without LULUCF (Land-Use, Land-Use Change, and Forestry), were 4.3 percent (181 million tonnes CO2‑equivalents) below 1990 levels, mainly because Germany and the UK, the EU’s two largest emitters accounting for about 40 percent of total EU-15 greenhouse gas emissions, have considerably reduced their emissions: Germany (21.3 percent) and the United Kingdom (17.4 percent). The report says that even though “Member States show large variations in greenhouse gas emission trends,” the EU’s emissions targets under the Kyoto Protocol “can be achieved by a combination of existing and planned domestic policies and measures, and using carbon sinks and Kyoto mechanisms.”
Table 2: EU Greenhouse Gas Emissions in CO2-Equivalents from 1990 to 2007 (excluding LULUCF) and Kyoto Protocol Targets for 2008–2012
* For the EU‑15, the base year for CO2, CH4 and N2O is 1990; for fluorinated gases 12 Member States have selected 1995 as the base year, whereas Austria, France and Italy have chosen 1990. As the EC inventory is the sum of Member State inventories, the EC base‑year estimates for fluorinated gas emissions are the sum of 1995 emissions for 12 Member States and 1990 emissions for Austria, France and Italy. Under the Kyoto Protocol, the EU‑15 took on a common commitment to reduce emissions by 8 percent between 2008 and 2012 compared to emissions in the 'base year'. As Cyprus, Malta, and the EU‑27 do not have targets under the Kyoto Protocol, they do not have applicable Kyoto Protocol base years.
Source: European Environment Agency 2009
While developed countries like the EU have started to ‘act first’ to address global climate change with their binding emissions targets under the Kyoto Protocol, developing countires are ‘free’ under the climate regime. The Kyoto Protocal doesn’t include developing countries for legally binding targets as it recognizes that “developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity” placing “a heavier burden on developed nations.” However, this condition has become a serious concern for international efforts to fight global climate change because China, India, and other developing countries have been pumping increasinlgy more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, even though their per capita emissions are still relatively low.
In 2007, China overtook the US as the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter. On 19 June 2007, the Guardian reported: “The surprising announcement will increase anxiety about China's growing role in driving man-made global warming and will pile pressure onto world politicians to agree a new global agreement on climate change that includes the booming Chinese economy. China's emissions had not been expected to overtake those from the US, formerly the world's biggest polluter, for several years, although some reports predicted it could happen as early as next year.” Table 3 makes comparison between the world’s two greatest emitters of greenhouse gases by providing selected statistics including their greenhouse gas emissions.
Table 3: Comparison of the World’s Top 2 Greenhouse Gas Emitters
Source: CRS 2008
China’s main positions in the internaitonal climate negotiations are that “the industrialized countries must take repsonsibillity for the present situation” and that “the poorer countries must be allowed to increase their emissions in order to develop their economices.” In addition, adhering to the principle of “common but differentiated respnsibilities” agreed in the UNFCCC, China maintains that developed countries “should assist developing countries to mitigate emissions and adapt to climate change.”
In 1992, the Chinese National People's Congress (NPC) formally ratified the UNFCCC and the Chinese government, or the State Council, confirmed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2002. In 1998 China created the National Coordination Committee on Climate Change to “deal with coordination of climate change activities.” However, China’s climate change policy is under the control of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) which is the country’s most influential government body for introducing and implementing all domestic policies. In June 2007, the NDRC issued its first comprehensive national plan related to climate change called China’s National Climate Change Programme which aimed at “outlining objectives, basic principles, key areas of actions, as well as policies and measures to address climate change for the period up to 2010.” In the national climate change program, the NDRC states: “As a country of responsibility, China will seriously fulfill its commitments under the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol.”
Levi argues that China “is already taking significant steps to cut emissions – much more than most Americans think” by seeking to improve its energy efficiency and that the world’s largest emitter has (1) ambitious fuel-economy standards for its cars and trucks; (2) fairly advanced codes for energy efficiency in its buildings; (3) significant investments by its power companies in ultra-efficient conventional coal power and in wind power generation; and (4) economic incentives for investments in renewable energy and for cutting industrial emissions. However, he points out two major problems for China: First, such measures “are not enough to deliver the emissions cuts the world needs over the coming decade.” Second, the Chinese government “often lacks the ability to enforce the rules that are already on the books.” China’s energy policy should be understood as “a crucial determinant for its climate policy” because the country’s growing energy consumption has been a critical factor in its development process. Heggelund shows a critical view of the role of the NDRC which has the primary responsibility for China’s economic development issues:
Delegating the responsibility to the NDRC signified that climate change was no longer perceived solely in scientific terms, but increasingly in political and economic terms. Moreover, it signified that the domestic discussion about China’s potential contribution to the international efforts to combat climate change had taken a moderate, and not very proactive, direction. The NDRC (together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, MFA) emphasized economic development and sovereignty concerns in the climate negotiations, which has resulted in a limited Chinese response.
The EU has also showed its leadership in taking proactive and ambitious climate change policies for the post-Kyoto world. In 2006 the European Council first decided that the EU must achieve a 60% cut by 2050 to tackle global climate change. In January 2007, the European Commission put forward an integrated energy-climate change proposal to address the issues of energy supply and climate change. The proposal was endorsed by European Heads of States in March 2007. On 17 December 2008, the EU adopted a 20-20-20 Renewable Energy Directive which aimed at setting climate change reduction goals for the year of 2020. According to the Directive, the overall 20-20-20 targets call for: (1) a 20 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 compared with 1990 levels (30 percent if an international agreement is reached committing other developed countries to comparable emission reductions); (2) a 20 percent cut in energy consumption through improved energy efficiency by 2020; (3) a 20 percent increase in the use of renewable energy by 2020. There are now “some very exciting political moves happening, beyond the vision of the Kyoto Protocol” in the EU.
However, the EU needs to make some changes to its pioneering ETS to meet the new ambitious targets for emissions cuts. While the EU decided to allocate most of the emissions permits to power plants and energy-intensive industries for free in the first and second ETS trading periods from 2005 to 2012, it proposed that these industries would have to buy all their permits at auction from 2013. European industrial lobbies, however, strongly opposed the proposal by complaining that it would cost too much for them at a time of economic crisis. In early 2009 the European Commission announced that it was willing to “link the ETS to other carbon trading systems” and also to “include emerging economies by 2020.” Michael Grubb, chief economist for the Carbon Trust and a member of the UK Committee on Climate Change, says in his article for BBC News that the EU has been “more successful than expected in cutting its own emissions, partly in response to the EU ETS and other policies,” but warns that “to create a market that collapses once is unfortunate. Twice is careless; thrice would be outright foolish.” Emphasizing the strong policy-making role of Germany and the UK for the EU’s climate change leadership in the world, he suggests in the article that “these two pioneering countries of global climate change action” should find and use “the keys in their hands” to improve the carbon markets.
The UN climate summit in Copenhagen failed to produce a binding international agreement to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. Although President Obama pledged at the Copenhagen meeting that the US would cut its emissions by 17 percent by 2020 compared with 2005 levels, Premier Wen Jiabao maintained China’s strong position that it would not accept any legally binding emissions reduction target as a developing country. Instead, President Hu Jintao unveiled China’s first firm target in his speech in the UN announcing that China would aim to reduce its carbon intensity, which is the amount of carbon emissions per unit of GDP, by 40-45 percent by 2020 below 2005 levels. Shortly after the announcement, the BBC News reported that the target was “a commitment to make Chinese factories and power plants use fuel more efficiently and get better results.”
However, the ‘voluntary’ target has been heavily criticized by some scholars and specialists in the field of climate change. In an interview with the Washington Post, Michael Levi, a senior fellow for energy and the environment at the US Council on Foreign Relations, called the announcement “disappointing” because “the US Energy Information Administration estimates that existing Chinese policies will already cut the nation's carbon intensity by 45 to 46 percent.” He pointed out: "It does not move them beyond business as usual.” John Watson, who chaired a National Academy of Sciences committee that examined energy futures and air pollution in urban China and the US, also criticized the use of carbon intensity entirely by calling it “a diversion from the need to reduce emissions.” He emphasized: "You can have carbon emissions increase substantially, but carbon intensity still goes down. The real key for global warming is the absolute number, not that relative number." A 2008 US Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, which dealt with China’s greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation policies, concluded:
While China is still considered a developing country, it has grown rapidly enough in recent years for some to begin challenging that label; the old “developed/developing” dichotomy among countries that is embedded in much of the climate change debate may be too simplistic for practical and equitable solutions. (...) Progress on meeting targets in its National Climate Change Program and other mitigation measures appears to demonstrate that the Chinese government is making an effort to improve the country’s environmental reputation. Greater questions arise, however, over the ability of China to meet its goals for 2010 and later, given their ambitiousness and limits to enforcement.
3.1.3. Financial offer for Poor Countries Vulnerable to Climate Change after the Copenhagen Summit (2010-2020)
Although the Copenhagen summit ended with setting “no goal for conclusion of a binding international treaty,” “one real accomplishment” of the UN climate meeting “turned out to be cash.” It has been officially agreed ‘for the first time’ since the start of UN climate meetings that some ‘big’ money will flow from developed to developing countries. The Copenhagen Accord states:
(Article) 8. The collective commitment by developed countries is to provide new and additional resources, including forestry and investments through international institutions, approaching USD 30 billion for the period 2010-2012 with balanced allocation between adaptation and mitigation. (...) In the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation, developed countries commit to a goal of mobilizing jointly USD 100 billion dollars a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries. (...) A significant portion of such funding should flow through the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund.
As stated above, developed countries have agreed to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries address climate change. An initial fund worth $30 billion would operate for the period from 2010 to 2012. In addition, the Copenhagen agreement has called for the establishment of the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund to support immediate action to help developing countries adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change. Although Robert Bailey, a senior spokesman for Oxfam International, was critical of the agreement by indicating that “the amount of $100 billion was only half of what was need,” Kumi Naidoo, the executive director of Greenpeace, said that the funding pledge showed that “the principle that poor countries with least responsibility for climate change need resources for adaptation has been recognized.”
On 11 December 2009, the EU leaders have agreed to pay $10.6 billion over the next three years to help developing countries adapt to climate change. According to a report from BBC News, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt announced that all 27 EU member nations would contribute with voluntary pledges and that the EU was doing its "fair share.” After French President Nicolas Sarkozy offered around $2 billion, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown also promised to pay $2 billion. German Chancellor Angela Merkel also announced that Germany would “equal the commitment” by France. In a press conference in Brussels, Merkel said: The EU’s pledge to contribute to the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund “is a very clear message indeed to Copenhagen that we are more than ready to assume our share of responsibility.”
Although the EU’s funding pledge is one of the biggest financing efforts announced until now, China and many developing countries of the G-77 said that the proposal failed to “address the issue of setting up long-term financing mechanisms.” It seems that China has been ‘enjoying’ its position as a developing country to benefit from international climate regimes. China is likley to remain one of the main beneficiaries taking advangtage of international financing mechanisms for tackling global climate change. For example, it would participate more actively in the CDM established under the Kyoto Protocol. As Heggelund indicated, “inially skeptical, China has become one of the most active and attractive countries for CDM projects and its projects have increased rapidly” because it is expected that the CDM projects will generate more investment in China.
As analyzed above, it is quite clear that the EU, which is the most influential policy-making leader in the world, has responded more actively to global climate change than China. It has played a strong leadership role in tackling climate change by proactively setting international agendas, implementing emissions reductions, and helping poor countries adapt to climate change. Although China and other developing countries may often complain about what the EU has been promising and proposing for the creation of a low carbon world, most of the achievements from Rio, Kyoto to Copenhagen would have been impossible without the initiatives and commitments of the EU. Schreurs and Tiberghien say specifically:
If the EU succeeds in meeting its burden sharing target, then the EU will have achieved something of a moral victory vis-à-vis the US. If the EU fails, then cynics are likely to charge that while Europe is good at setting lofty goals, it is poor at actually implementing them. On the other hand, it could be argued that even if the EU fails to fulfill its goals completely, it will still have influenced policy change and innovation both at home and internationally through the power of example in the areas of energy efficiency improvements, renewable energy development, carbon emissions trading, energy taxes, and joint implementation. The EU, moreover, will have made a strong case for international cooperation in addressing a serious threat to the planet. The signing and ratification of the Kyoto Protocol has helped to put a variety of new policies and measures in motion. It has also helped to initiate joint projects among developed and transition countries.
We will now move on to examine how and to what extent the policy response of the EU and China to global climate change have been affected by the four factors selected for the research: (1) vulnerability to impacts of global climate change on security; (2) understanding of global climate change; (3) economic power; and (4) democracy in politics and society. We will then find out why the EU’s strong soft power is the main determinant for its active policy response to global climate change by measuring several indicators for each factor.
In classical terms, security meant the protection of national sovereignty and territorial integrity against external threats. However, the concept of security has been extended over time. Being different from the narrow concept of security, “the extended concept proceeds from a differentiation of security objects (individual, national, regional and international security) and a differentiation of the factors impacting on security (poverty, environmental degradation, illegal arms trade, international drug trafficking etc.).” The broader concept of security, which is used in current security debates in international politics, deals with not only economic and social dimensions, but also environmental aspects of security.
Figure 2: Climate Change and Security - Threat Multipliers and Threat Minimizers
Source: UN Secretariat
The UN has played a key role in the process of extending the concept of security. It is now tackling the issue of climate change by using the extended concept of security. As shown in Figure 2, the UN has tackled global climate change by focusing on impacts of climate change and their implications for security. It is quite clear that poor countries are more vulnerable to adverse impacts of climate change than rich countries. Unstably fluctuating weather trends, together with high vulnerability in many of the developing countries, have been causing a sharp increase in the number of environmental disasters in the world. Heggelund argues that “China can be characterized as highly vulnerable to climate change, and the vulnerability issue may become more important if the climate becomes more extreme.” The Chinese government has already identified many potential impacts of climate change looking at the vulnerability issue with great attention. It has officially stated in its National Climate Change Programme:
Studies indicate that climate change has caused some impacts on China, such as sea level rise in the coastal areas, glacial retreat in northwest area, the earlier arrival of spring phenophase. It will also bring about significant impacts on China’s natural ecosystems and social economic system in the future. Meanwhile, as a developing country at a low development stage, with a huge population, a coal dominant energy mix and relatively low capacity to tackle climate change, China will surely face more severe challenges when coping with climate change along with the acceleration of urbanization, industrialization and the increase of residential energy consumption.
We will now see the vulnerability to the impacts of climate change on security in both the EU and China by examining the following main factors:
Other climate effects
In early 1978, Charles F. Cooper, a plant ecologist, presented a research article dealing with impacts of climate change. In the article, he argued that “man-induced climate change” could influence “economic, political, and even military relations among nations.” And one of his key arguments is: “The impacts will not be felt equally. Some regions and nations will gain; others will lose.” These arguments seem to have been quite challenging at that time when the issue of global warming was still controversial among scientists and marginalized at international talks. The research article focused mainly on agriculture, forestry, and livestock production in the former USSR, the US and some countries in the world including China. According to the article, “China might be the principal beneficiary of increased rice yields due to higher temperatures.” However, he could not find enough data to “permit assessment of possible compensating effects on other crops in China.”
Like the Cooper’s 1978 research, a recent study says that “the distribution of the vulnerability among the regions and people are likely to be uneven.” It shows that climate change “may lead to increases in yield potential at mid and high-mid latitudes, and to decreases in the tropics and subtropics” and that some parts of China may also benefit from global warming. However, it warns that “risk of hunger appears to increase generally as a result of climate change, particularly in southern Asia and Africa.” In addition, it argues that it is evident that “the potential for adaptation is greater in more developed economies” and that this “is likely to bring more positive effects to the North and more negative effects to the South; in other words to aggravate inequalities in development potential.” The study concludes by suggesting that “we should be looking not just to avoid a warmer world, but also looking for ways to adapt to a more uncertain world where in certain regions the risk of crop failure on a year-to-year basis is increase.”
Figure 3: Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2009
Source: International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) 2009
China has become increasingly worried about negative impacts of climate change on food security in the country.,” The Chinese government announced that “increased instability in agricultural production, where the yields of three main crops (wheat, rice, and maize) are likely to decline if no proper adaptation are taken.” As many studies show, the EU is ‘free’ from global hunger (See Figure 3) and would remain less vulnerable to adverse impacts of climate change on food security than China and most of the developing countries. The European Commission has announced that climate change will cause “a drop in agricultural productivity” in the world and that this will “lead to, or worsen, food-insecurity in least developed countries and an unsustainable increase in food prices.” The EU takes the food security problem as a global issue, not a regional one in the EU, and plays a leadership role to solve the problem in both the EU and the rest of the world.
According to the World Bank, “more than 1.1 billion people lack access to safe water, and 2.6 billion lack access to basic sanitation.” Regarding the water security as a serious threat to the world, the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which aims eradicating global poverty with concerted international actions, has a target of having the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 2015. In a speech at an exposition in the Spanish city of Zaragoza on Water and Sustainable Development, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon stated that “there has been progress towards achieving the water and sanitation MDGs, but not enough” and that “roughly 1.2 billion people have gained access to an improved source of drinking water. However, with rapid population growth and persistent poverty in parts of the developing world, the number of people without access has declined by only around 10 percent.”
The newly established UN Water Task Force on Climate Change, which held its first meeting in August 2008, says that “the consequences of climate change are complex and far-reaching. They will affect all water-related sectors, including drinking water, agriculture, ecosystems, navigation and hydropower. It is likely that the world's most vulnerable communities will the hardest hit.” The UN’s latest Environmental Global Outlook report also presents that climate change is one of the main factors to influence the state of the water environment, together with human use of water resources and aquatic ecosystems, and overexploitation of fish stocks. According to the report by the UN, “1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity by 2025, and two thirds of the world population could be subject to water stress” if current trends continue. McGuire argues that a desperate shortage of water will be one of the greatest problems in the world facing global climate change and that more than 5 billion people will not live in countries with inadequate water supplies by 2025. What worries us more is that global climate change could trigger water conflicts in many countries in Africa and Central Asia as “there will be even less rainfall and water quality will become increasingly degraded through higher temperatures and pollutant run-off.”
Figure 4: Access to Safe Drinking Water (as of 2006)
Source: UNEP 2007
Currently, the EU has better access to safe drinking water than China and other countries in the world (See Figure 4). However, it is seriously dealing with the impact of climate change on water security in Europe recognizing that climate change could severely affect water resources and water systems in the region. On 12-14 February 2007, an international conference titled “Time to Adapt - Climate Change and the European Water Dimension: Vulnerability, Impacts, and Adaptation” was held in Berlin by the strong initiative of the European Commission to “provide a platform for representatives from governments, science and research, stakeholder groups and non-governmental organizations to discuss the likely impacts of climate change on water management and water dependent sectors such as agriculture, energy, inland navigation and tourism, as well as options for adaptation, and to strengthen the political profile of these issues.” It noted that climate change would “have long term effects on the availability of water in different regions in Europe as well as on the quality of water and water related ecosystems.” The 2007 Symposium Report released after the conference concludes:
There are clearly different responses in South (lack of water) and North (lack in summer – excess in winter) Europe. Central Europe may be particularly affected through increased climatic variability (e.g. summer droughts). Benefits of climate change include longer vegetation period (North) and possible change in vegetation period (South). The timeframe of changes in vulnerability depends on whether change in mean conditions or change in variability is considered. An increasing pressure on irrigation systems and water supply in South (in particular in intensively irrigated regions) can be expected. Increased nutrient losses in the North can lead to negative effects on aquatic ecosystems (in particular near lakes or brackish waters), and an increased activity of pests and diseases (Central and North) might lead to an increase in the use of pesticides.
Since many years, water security has also become one of the greatest concerns in China. It is quite evident that China is now facing severe water shortages. It is estimated that China's freshwater supplies are capable of supporting only half of the country’s population 650 million people on a sustainable basis. In addition, according to a 2006 report by China National Environmental Monitoring Center, drinking water quality in 16 out of 113 major cities assessed is below national standards. The reports also shows that “of drinking water sources, 74, or 20.1 percent of the total surveyed, fell short of quality requirements, while 527 million tons of drinking water, or 32.3 percent of the total, was unsuitable for drinking.”
While the southern part of China is suffering from periodic flooding, the northern part, which is home to two thirds of the country’s cropland, is facing chronic water shortages. The Chinese government has announced that climate change has been considerably impacting on the country’s water security. It has clearly announced as follows:
Climate change has already caused the changes of water resources distribution over China. A decreasing trend in runoff was observed during the past 40 years in the six main rivers, namely Haihe River, Huaihe River, Yellow River, Songhuajiang 18 River, Yangtze River, and Pearl River. Meanwhile, there is evidence for an increase in frequency of hydrological extreme events, such as drought in North and flood in South. The Haihe-Luanhe River basin is the most vulnerable region to climate change, followed by Huaihe River basin and Yellow River basin. The arid continental river basins are particularly vulnerable to climate change.
Giddens says that China’s water shortages mainly caused by global climate change are also affecting the country’s energy security. He explains that “millions of people in China depend on its major rivers for their livelihood. Yet there has been a shrinkage of 20 percent in the glaciers that are the source of these rivers” and that this is leading to “a change that also threatens the hydroelectric plants in which China has vested a good deal of hope for energy generation.” This means that China’s water security affected by global climate change has been also increasingly influencing the country’s economic growth as well as other sectors in public health and welfare. Although China has recently started to carry out new policy and institutional reforms for the country’s water security, it would be more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change on water security than the EU and other industrialized countries mainly because of its still poor management of the scarce water resources. “Ineffective water policies and weak institutional capacity and implementation” remain the main causes to contribute to the emergence of water security problems in China.
The World Health Organization (WHO) agrees that that global climate change has been affecting human health in many ways by “altering the geographic range and seasonality of certain infectious diseases, disturbing food-producing ecosystems, and increasing the frequency of extreme weather events, such as hurricanes.” Figure 5 from the 2007 IPCC report shows how global climate change has been directly and indirectly influencing human health. On 15 September 2009, the BBC News reported that 18 of the world's professional medical organizations urged doctors to take a lead on climate change issues. According to the report, the leaders of 18 colleges of medicine and other medical disciplines in the world warned that “the results for international health could be catastrophic” should politicians’ responses to global climate change be weak and that “effects of climate change on health will affect most populations in the next decades and put the lives and wellbeing of billions of people at increased risk.” One of the main characteristics of the health impacts of global climate change is that the health risks are “inequitable” because “the greenhouse gases that cause climate change originate mainly from developed countries, but the health risks are concentrated in the poorest nations, which have contributed least to the problem.”
Figure 5: Schematic Diagram of Pathways by which Climate Change Affects Health, and Concurrent Direct-Acting and Modifying (Conditioning) Influences of Environmental, Social and Health-System Factors
Source: IPCC 2007
In July 2007, EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "People all over Europe will increasingly feel the threatening effects of climate change on their health, jobs and housing, and the most vulnerable members of society will be the hardest hit.” The EU has already observed that global climate change is also affecting the EU’s health security. Most of all, it has found that as heat waves have become more frequent in Europe, the number of hot-weather related deaths will increase in summer while there will be fewer cold-related deaths in winter. In August 2003, unprecedented heat waves hit Europe causing about 70,000 deaths. This event shows that heat waves are closely associated with short-term increases in mortality and that rich countries can be also heavily affected by rising temperatures.
The UNEP reported that the 2003 heat waves caused more than 14,800 excess deaths in France alone. For example, the number of people died in Paris increased more sharply during the heat wave period as shown in Figure 6. The experience of the heat waves in 2003 showed that those most likely to die of the heat were “the old, the chronically ill, and the isolated” and that the main challenge for the health security in Europe would be “the aging of the population” leading to increase the number of people vulnerable to various risk factors like “loss of autonomy and social isolation.”
Figure 6: The Increase in Daily Mortality in Paris during the Heat Wave in Early August
Source: UNEP 2007
China’s health security has been also affected by climate change. As indicated in Figure 7, it is clear that the annual mean temperatures in China have steadily risen for the last few decades. It is projected that the nationwide annual mean temperature would further increase by 1.3~2.1°C in 2020 and 2.3~3.3°C by 2050 as compared with 2000. Like the EU, heat waves are associated with high mortality in China. The high mortality caused by heat waves is seen quite clear, especially in rural populations, and among the elderly and outdoor workers. Taking seriously the climate effects on health security in China, the central government has specifically said “climate change may increase the frequency and intensity of the heat waves, hence increase deaths and serious diseases induced by extreme high temperature events. Climate change is likely to stimulate the emergence and spread of some diseases and to increase the magnitude and scope of diseases like cardiovascular diseases, malaria, dengue fever, and heatstroke, endangering human health.”
Figure 7: Change of Annual Mean Temperature in China
- Quote paper
- Sang-Min Han (Author), 2010, Impacts of Climate Change on World Security. Policy Response to Global Climate Change and Role of Soft Power in the EU and China, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/385830