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Climate change benchmarking: Constructing a sustainable future?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 November 2015

Abstract

This article analyses discourses on climate change and mitigation through the deconstruction of European Union (EU) rhetoric and practices on climate benchmarking. It critically examines the motivations behind climate benchmarking, the methods used to construct international benchmarks, and the reasons for variety in domestic compliance. Germany and the United Kingdom are analysed as cases where domestic politics drive very different reactions to the practice of climate mitigation, differences that have been largely hidden by the type of quantification that EU benchmarking involves. Through an exploration of the methods used to formulate climate benchmarks, the article demonstrates that these commitments have privileged certain responses over others, and thus helped to paint a picture of EU benchmarks as ‘reformist’ but not ‘radical’. EU climate benchmarks often end up concealing more than they reveal, making it difficult to fully engage with the scale and complexity of the far-reaching domestic changes that are required in order to comply with agreed international benchmarks. The deficiencies of benchmarks as a mechanism for driving long-term sustainable change, and importantly discouraging harmful policies, may ultimately undermine their credibility as a means for governing climate change at a distance in the EU.

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Articles
Copyright
© 2015 British International Studies Association 

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References

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75 Ibid., various pages.

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86 Ibid., p. 37.

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88 As does the decision to limit bio-energy to less than 10 per cent of power generation in the long term. See Agora, ‘12 Insights on Germany’s Energiewende’, p. 5.

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106 BBC News, ‘Aberdeen to be Home for New Oil and Gas Agency’, available at: {http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-27809836} accessed 20 April 2015.

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109 See Geden, O. and Fischer, S., ‘Moving Targets: Negotiations on the EU’s Energy and Climate Policy Objectives for the Post-2020 Period and Implications for the German Energy Transition’, SWP Research Paper, RP3 (March 2014)Google Scholar.

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