Understanding the Changing Effectiveness of the European Union in International Biodiversity and Climate Change Governance

This project aims to contribute to explaining variation of EU effectiveness in international environmental governance over time and across issue areas by focusing on international biodiversity and climate change governance. The central question of the project is: how can we account for variation of the EU’s effectiveness in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) over time? This research question is at the forefront of research on the role of the EU in international (environmental) governance. It can be further specified with reference to two major sub-questions:

  1. How has the EU’s effectiveness varied within the international conventions on climate change (the UNFCCC) and for the protection of biodiversity (the CBD) over time (since the early 1990s)? Answering this question will require a systematic assessment of EU effectiveness in each convention over time. Clear assessment criteria of EU effectiveness are developed during the first project phase.
  2. How can we explain variation in the EU’s effectiveness in both international conventions over time and between them? (In other words: Why does EU effectiveness vary across time and issues?) Answering this main question of the project requires the construction of an explanatory framework applicable across cases.

Empirically, the project is to shed light on the effectiveness of the EU (i.e. the EU institutions and its member states) in the international conventions on climate change and for the protection of biodiversity from their inception in the early 1990s until today. The analysis is expected to identify and focus on a limited number of core decision-making moments as sub-cases (three per case study) and thereby allows for a comparison within as well as across the case studies. Such a comparative empirical analysis across time, taking into account recent events (such as the adoption of the Nagoya Protocol to the CBD in 2010 and the process towards adopting a global legally binding climate agreement in 2015 at the UNFCCC), promises significant added value.