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EU Climate Change Unilateralism

Joanne Scott

University College London - Faculty of Laws

Lavanya Rajamani

Centre for Policy Research

November 1, 2011

European Journal of International Law, Vol. 23, No. 2, 2012, 469-494

The EU is engaged in an ambitious, controversial, and high-stakes experiment to extend the reach of its climate change law. It is seeking to use its market power to stimulate climate action, and to substitute for climate inaction, elsewhere. This is most apparent in relation to the EU’s decision to include aviation in its emissions trading scheme. While we are sympathetic to the EU’s objectives, and do not take issue with its unilateral means, we argue that the EU is not giving adequate weight to the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDRRC). While the status, meaning, and implications of this principle are contested and unclear, it requires that developed countries should take the lead in addressing the causes and effects of climate change. We argue that the concept of CBDRRC retains relevance in the context of unilateral climate action, and that the EU’s Aviation Directive should be interpreted, applied, and where necessary adjusted in the light of it. We put forward two concrete proposals to achieve this end.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 26

Keywords: climate change, European Union, Unilateralism, Aviation

JEL Classification: K32, K33, K20

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Date posted: November 1, 2011 ; Last revised: November 10, 2012

Suggested Citation

Scott, Joanne and Rajamani, Lavanya, EU Climate Change Unilateralism (November 1, 2011). European Journal of International Law, Vol. 23, No. 2, 2012, 469-494. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1952554 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1952554

Contact Information

Joanne Scott (Contact Author)
University College London - Faculty of Laws ( email )
London WC1E OEG
United Kingdom
Lavanya Rajamani
Centre for Policy Research ( email )
Dharma Marg
New Delhi, 110022
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