Europe’s voice was no source of influence in Copenhagen

In Italy, as in most Euro­pean coun­tries, the mea­gre results achieved dur­ing the Copen­hagen Sum­mit have pro­duced a pal­pa­ble frus­tra­tion. In this regard, the words of the Ital­ian Min­is­ter for Envi­ron­ment Ste­fa­nia Pres­ti­gia­co­mo sharply high­light­ed this feel­ing, not­ing that the con­fer­ence has been a sub­stan­tial polit­i­cal fail­ure and a deeply dis­ap­point­ing expe­ri­ence.11La Stam­pa: In soli 5 minu­ti USA e Cina han­no affos­sato il Sum­mit, 20 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.lastampa.it/redazione/cmsSezioni/clima/200912articoli/50552girata.asp (last access: 30 April 2010). How­ev­er, while still dis­cour­aged by the summit’s results, Car­lo Car­raro, an Ital­ian mem­ber of the Inter­gov­ern­men­tal Pan­el on Cli­mate Change (IPCC), has been more cau­tious. In his view, although insuf­fi­cient, such a weak out­come was indeed the only pos­si­ble. The EU appears to be the real los­er, since it had con­sid­er­able ambi­tions which had not been met dur­ing the con­fer­ence.22La Repub­bli­ca: Par­la l’esperto ital­iano all’ONU ‘Al Sum­mit troppe aspet­ta­tive’, 21 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.repubblica.it/2009/12/sezioni/ambiente/conferenza-copenaghen‑2/intervista-carraro/intervista-carraro.html (last access: 30 April 2010).

This EU fail­ure has also been revealed by the Ital­ian press and the research com­mu­ni­ty. In par­tic­u­lar, it has been not­ed that the EU is once again inca­pable of speak­ing with one strong voice which is the real rea­son at the base of its mar­gin­al­i­sa­tion.33La Stam­pa: Il flop dell’Europa: troppe prime­donne e neanche un leader, 20 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.lastampa.it/redazione/cmsSezioni/clima/200912articoli/50548girata.asp (last access: 30 April 2010). More­over, such an alarm­ing devel­op­ment is well rep­re­sent­ed by the new coop­er­a­tion between the US and emer­gent economies, from which the final polit­i­cal deci­sion emerged at the last minute of the con­fer­ence.44Nòva: Il cli­ma di Copen­hagen: ne dob­bi­amo pren­dere atto, Il Sole24ore, 21 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://antonellopasini.nova100.ilsole24ore.com/2009/12/il-clima-di-copenhagen-ne-dobbiamo-prendere-atto.html (last access: 30 April 2010).

In con­clu­sion, the achieve­ment of a more com­pre­hen­sive agree­ment was rather unre­al­is­tic. Nev­er­the­less, the EU appeared weak and divid­ed, unable to make its voice a real source of influ­ence dur­ing the entire Copen­hagen con­fer­ence.55Umber­to Bertelè: Copen­hagen e il nuo­vo ordine mon­di­ale, Affar­In­ter­nazion­ali, 21 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.affarinternazionali.it/articolo.asp?ID=1346 (last access: 30 April 2010). The approach­ing sum­mit in Bonn will tell us whether the insti­tu­tion­al changes includ­ed in the Lis­bon Treaty will rep­re­sent a solu­tion to the cur­rent state of things.

The Ital­ian debate on ener­gy and cli­mate pol­i­cy has stressed, on sev­er­al occa­sions, the poten­tial­ly lead­ing role of the EU in this sec­tor. Indeed, the ambi­tious Europe 2020 Strat­e­gy ulti­mate­ly gives the EU an enhanced cred­i­bil­i­ty on envi­ron­men­tal aspects at the inter­na­tion­al lev­el, which should be used to cre­ate a strong polit­i­cal agree­ment for the post Copen­hagen phase.66Marzio Gale­ot­ti: La rigi­da pri­mav­era del cli­ma, La Voce, 26 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.lavoce.info/articoli/-energia_ambiente/pagina1001627.html (last access: 5 May 2010). In order to do so, how­ev­er, it appears nec­es­sary to first over­come the divi­sions with­in the EU itself, and then find a com­mon agree­ment between those mem­ber states that want to “lead by exam­ple” and those that would like a more glob­al com­mit­ment.77Annal­isa D’Orazio: Italia a cor­to di strate­gie sul cli­ma, La Voce, 26 Jan­u­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.lavoce.info/articoli/-energia_ambiente/pagina1001520.html (last access: 5 May 2010).

An effec­tive way to achieve such an inter­na­tion­al cred­i­bil­i­ty would be to adopt con­crete actions in the frame­work of the pend­ing Euro­pean eco­nom­ic strat­e­gy by includ­ing a clear oblig­a­tion towards strict envi­ron­men­tal mea­sures in the final doc­u­ment.88Vil­lag­gio Glob­ale: Nuovi obbi­et­tivi Ue per man­tenere la lead­er­ship, 13 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.vglobale.it/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=11564%3Aclima-nuovi-obiettivi-ue-per-mantenere-la-leadership&Itemid=124&lang=it (last access: 5 May 2010). In this way, a new impulse to the next round of inter­na­tion­al nego­ti­a­tions could be offered by the EU, which, as the recent Euro­pean sus­tain­able ener­gy week demon­strates, is in sev­er­al aspects a lead­ing actor on the issue.99La Stam­pa: Al via lunedì set­ti­mana euro­pea dell’energia sosteni­bile, 19 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www3.lastampa.it/ambiente/sezioni/news/articolo/lstp/161812/ (last access: 5 May 2010).

It may be not­ed in this overview that in Italy the issue of the Unit­ed Nations Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change (UNFCCC) as pos­si­bly the best strat­e­gy to fight cli­mate change has not yet been dis­cussed. The main rea­son is prob­a­bly to be found in the high­ly tech­ni­cal lev­el of the top­ic and the low domes­tic inter­est over the issue.

The same lack of mate­r­i­al char­ac­teris­es the Ital­ian posi­tion on financ­ing mit­i­ga­tion and adap­ta­tion efforts in devel­op­ing coun­tries. Arguably, the rea­son is again the very lim­it­ed pub­lic inter­est on the issue and the speci­fici­ty of its nature.

    Footnotes

  • 1La Stam­pa: In soli 5 minu­ti USA e Cina han­no affos­sato il Sum­mit, 20 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.lastampa.it/redazione/cmsSezioni/clima/200912articoli/50552girata.asp (last access: 30 April 2010).
  • 2La Repub­bli­ca: Par­la l’esperto ital­iano all’ONU ‘Al Sum­mit troppe aspet­ta­tive’, 21 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.repubblica.it/2009/12/sezioni/ambiente/conferenza-copenaghen‑2/intervista-carraro/intervista-carraro.html (last access: 30 April 2010).
  • 3La Stam­pa: Il flop dell’Europa: troppe prime­donne e neanche un leader, 20 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.lastampa.it/redazione/cmsSezioni/clima/200912articoli/50548girata.asp (last access: 30 April 2010).
  • 4Nòva: Il cli­ma di Copen­hagen: ne dob­bi­amo pren­dere atto, Il Sole24ore, 21 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://antonellopasini.nova100.ilsole24ore.com/2009/12/il-clima-di-copenhagen-ne-dobbiamo-prendere-atto.html (last access: 30 April 2010).
  • 5Umber­to Bertelè: Copen­hagen e il nuo­vo ordine mon­di­ale, Affar­In­ter­nazion­ali, 21 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.affarinternazionali.it/articolo.asp?ID=1346 (last access: 30 April 2010).
  • 6Marzio Gale­ot­ti: La rigi­da pri­mav­era del cli­ma, La Voce, 26 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.lavoce.info/articoli/-energia_ambiente/pagina1001627.html (last access: 5 May 2010).
  • 7Annal­isa D’Orazio: Italia a cor­to di strate­gie sul cli­ma, La Voce, 26 Jan­u­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.lavoce.info/articoli/-energia_ambiente/pagina1001520.html (last access: 5 May 2010).
  • 8Vil­lag­gio Glob­ale: Nuovi obbi­et­tivi Ue per man­tenere la lead­er­ship, 13 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.vglobale.it/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=11564%3Aclima-nuovi-obiettivi-ue-per-mantenere-la-leadership&Itemid=124&lang=it (last access: 5 May 2010).
  • 9La Stam­pa: Al via lunedì set­ti­mana euro­pea dell’energia sosteni­bile, 19 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www3.lastampa.it/ambiente/sezioni/news/articolo/lstp/161812/ (last access: 5 May 2010).

The reports focus on a report­ing peri­od from Decem­ber 2009 until May 2010. This sur­vey was con­duct­ed on the basis of a ques­tion­naire that has been elab­o­rat­ed in March and April 2010. Most of the 31 reports were deliv­ered in May 2010.

The EU-27 Watch No. 9 receives sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing from the Otto Wolff-Foun­da­tion, Cologne, in the frame­work of the ‘Dia­log Europa der Otto Wolff-Stiftung’, and finan­cial sup­port from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is not respon­si­ble for any use that may be made of the infor­ma­tion con­tained therein.