Summer School on Sustainable Development 2009: Decarbonizing Europe and the World. European Climate Policy – Internal and External Dimensions

Hurricane Katrina in the United States, bush fires in Australia, floods in South Asia. Natural disasters all around the world demonstrate in an alarming way, how a warming planet could look like within a comparatively short period of time. Meanwhile, the economic and financial crisis confronts the world with its much more direct impacts to everyday life and tells international climate policy to step back on the agenda for a moment. Despite the current economic problems, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the adaptation to a changing environment remain more urgent than ever before in order to prevent serious environmental, social and economic damages. The Kyoto Protocol is due to expire in 2012 and until today, the contracting states are far away from signing a follow-up agreement to combat climate change. Therefore much aspiration is put on the forthcoming Post-Kyoto Conference in Copenhagen. After deciding on a legally binding climate policy in December 2008, the European Union is assumed to lead the Conference to a success and thus to complete the tenacious climate negotiations. Nevertheless, several crucial questions remain open until today: Will Europe´s efforts be sufficient to bring other countries to agree on a post-Kyoto treaty? What are the conditions for developing countries to accept emission reductions? Which factors influence the EU´s ability to fulfill such a leadership function in the ongoing fight against global warming?

The 2nd International Summer School on Sustainable Development discussed these questions by illuminating the internal and external dimensions of European climate policy. First of all, the academy addresses the social, political and economic aspects determining European action in the field of climate policy. In a second step, it concentrated on the international framework of climate policy, thereby analyzing the role of the major global actors in the post-Kyoto process and the ensuing challenges for the European Union.