The Solidarisation of International Society: The EU in the Global Climate Change Regime

Bettina Ahrens, University of Tübingen.

GLOBUS Research Paper 5/2017


The European Union more often than not is either assumed or expected to play a leading role in international politics of climate change. This expectation emanates largely from the assumption that the EU as a normative power is able to induce change in international society. This paper intends to explore this assumed transformative potential of the EU in the specific context of climate politics. Suggesting an English School approach, in this paper I conceptualise the EU’s potential transformative impact as the solidarisation of international society. The advantage of such an analytical perspective is that it directs the focus on tensions and ambiguities that always and unavoidably exist in processes of change. In the paper, I first elaborate on the conceptualisation of change as solidarisation. Second, I spell out in detail what such a solidarisation means in international climate politics. Third, an empirical analysis of the EU’s discourse and practices in climate politics reveals whether the EU indeed acts as a source of solidarisation in this particular policy field. In contrast to the widespread assumption that consistency is key to change, this paper suggests that accepting and embracing ambiguities indeed enhances the EU’s contribution to solidarisation.

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Tags: Climate change By Bettina Ahrens
Published Oct. 27, 2017 12:00 PM - Last modified Nov. 13, 2017 3:34 PM