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The EU as a global leader? : A comparative study on Copenhagen and Paris UN climate change negotiations


  • Razvan Cristian Belu

Summary, in English

Climate change is a global and demanding issue, which affects all the states on the planet. The European Union has from the 90s been vigorously engaged in the international efforts to tackle climate change and even pursued to take on the leading role in the global climate regime. The two most anticipated UN conferences for combating climate change at the global level were the COP15 in 2009 and COP21 in 2015. The EU, described by the
academia as the possible leader, had high ambitions and sought to negotiate an agreement, which would legally bind the parties to reduce the greenhouse gases emissions. Although the EU had the same ambitions in prior to both summits, the outcome was one of a very different nature. COP15 was described by EU’s lead negotiators as disappointing, while COP21 was termed historical. The ultimate aim of this thesis is to account for the reasons behind the outcome discrepancy by comparing the two UN Conferences by primarily analyzing the role played by the alleged climate leader, the European Union. The study will also consider the most relevant aspects of the political and economic context, as well as the most dominant parties
at the UNFCCC. The EU is not a state, nor a traditional international institution. Thus, the thesis departs from evaluating the status of the European Union in the international climate change regime, using the criteria developed by Jupille & Caporaso and Vogler & Bretherton. After concluding the nature of EU actorness, the study will make use of the
leadership types elaborated by Wurzel and Connelly in order to gain a more nuanced conceptualization of EU’s role and leadership at the conferences. After the EU’s actorness at both Copenhagen and Paris is conclusively demonstrated, the role and leadership of the Union are finally assessed in order to identify the reasons behind the outcome discrepancy.
The conclusion is that the EU failed to assume the role of the leader in Copenhagen, while succeeding it, at least to some extent, in Paris. External factors, such as China’s approach, have also played a crucial role.







Examensarbete för masterexamen (Två år)


  • Social Sciences


  • COP15
  • COP21
  • European Union
  • climate change negotiations
  • environmental policy
  • European Studies


  • Gunnhildur Lily Magnusdottir