Climate change policy in the European Union: Confronting the dilemmas of mitigation and adaptation?



[1] There is no doubt that climate change presents an exquisite dilemma to global society and our systems of governance. Either we accept our collective responsibility and adapt our energy systems, or our societies and many critical ecosystems may be swept away by climate extremes, food crises, and, eventually, rising seas. The European Union (EU) has emerged in a leading role in the international struggle to govern climate change. Climate change is an accepted part of the political agenda in the EU, so agreement on targets has been relatively easy compared to the actual implementation of policies to reduce emissions. This book addresses in a historical context, from the late 1980s to 2010, the challenges that climate change policy has presented to the EU and how policy has been developed. The risks posed by climate change have been known for several decades. The evolution of climate change policy in the EU has occurred in parallel with extensive expansion of the EU itself, which grew from 9 member countries in the 1980s to its present 27. The EU is a relatively large emitter of greenhouse gases, and with 27 countries, it represents a microcosm of the global community, albeit with a unique form of governance.