EU climate leadership under test

Doha marks the first stop on a roadmap to a post-2020 climate regime. The European Union could pave the way by building bridges with partners in key areas such as mitigation ambition, adaptation finance and deforestation.

The December 2011 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 17th Conference of the Parties in Durban, South Africa, was an unexpected diplomatic success for the European Union (EU), whose credibility and leadership in climate change negotiations had suffered a blow in Copenhagen in 2009. With the emission targets of the first Kyoto Protocol commitment period poised to expire in 2012, the negotiations in Durban were the last chance to secure their continuation and avoid a gap in commitments. The EU only agreed to participate in a second commitment period if the negotiations resulted in a roadmap for a legally binding post-2020 agreement that included mitigation commitments for all major economies. In the end, parties worked out a compromise that extended the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012 and called for negotiations towards “a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force … [and] applicable to all Parties”1.