Global Environmental Protection


To what extent does the government actively contribute to the design and advancement of global environmental protection regimes?

The government actively contributes to international efforts to design and advance global environmental protection regimes. In most cases, it demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, fosters their advancement and initiates appropriate reforms.
Sweden continues to present a very strong international record in terms of supporting international environmental protection regimes, including the Paris climate change conference in November and December 2015. Indeed, the country has a record of going beyond the requirements of international accords, from the Kyoto Protocol to the Paris Agreement, as a means of setting an example to other countries. Climate change and global warming can only be addressed through multilateral efforts and Sweden has played an important role toward such arrangements. Sweden is also a very active player on the EU’s environmental policy agenda.
Zannakis, M. (2010), Climate Policy as a Window of Opportunity: Sweden and Global Climate Change (Gothenburg: Department of Political Science, university of Gothenburg).
The Norwegian government promotes itself as a lead actor in international environmental efforts and climate negotiations. As an oil and gas producer, it is also a substantial emitter of CO2. Norway is involved in the United Nations Collaborative Program on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD). However, the country has also been criticized for buying itself out of burdensome domestic environmental obligations by purchasing international CO2 quotas instead of reducing emissions. Norway has invested in carbon-capture technologies, but positive results are not yet broadly evident. The country is additionally involved in helping to spread technology related to renewable energy. The Norwegian Government Pension Fund is increasingly concerned about climate risks. The fund has recommended diversifying away from oil and gas production, and has promoted the carbon risk financial disclosure initiative.
Global environmental policy is high among Switzerland’s foreign-policy priorities, and the country has played a significant role in designing and advancing global environmental-protection regimes. However, as a small country, Switzerland has limited independent influence. The European Union has taken a leading role in this area. Thus, Switzerland’s impact depends in large part upon efficient collaboration with the EU.
Under the Conservative governments of John Major (1990 – 1997), there was a policy shift and the United Kingdom became one of the foremost advocates of environmental protection standards in the European Union. The United Kingdom ratified the Kyoto Protocol. Although the government remained skeptical about global environmental protection regimes, even though they were consistent with nationally pursued policies.

The United Kingdom has consistently pursued environmental protection and the reduction of carbon emissions. The coalition government of 2010 continued the carbon emissions targets for 2020 set by the preceding Labour government. The new Conservative government is likely to maintain this approach.

The Conservative government has announced plans to deregulate the permission process for the construction of on-shore wind farms to raise the United Kingdom’s share of renewable energies, although it also supports relaxing regulation on fracking for natural gas.

Prime Minister May pledged to ratify the Paris climate change deal by the end of 2016 and the government duly did so at the Marrakech COP 22 summit in November 2016. The United Kingdom continues to be in the mainstream of European opinion on these issues and has deplored the Trump administration’s rejection of COP 21. Following a large-scale public consultation, the government plans to introduce new measures to curb the use of plastics, including plans to introduce a plastics tax announced in the October 2018 budget.
Citations: see page 48
The government contributes to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes. It demonstrates commitment to existing regimes and occasionally fosters their advancement or initiates appropriate reforms.
The government of Canada in principle supports the design and advancement of global environmental-protection regimes. In the past, Canada’s approach to environmental policy has, to a large degree, followed that of the United States, given the close economic relations between the two countries. Three years into their mandate, the Liberals have generally focused on domestic policy and have rarely led on new international frameworks for environmental protection. At the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) Prime Minister Trudeau announced CAD 30 million for the world’s poorest countries to combat climate change, and CAD 300 million to the Green Climate Fund for clean technology innovation.
When it comes to international efforts, Denmark is actively promoting environmental protection through the European Union, relevant U.N. bodies and global conferences, including in particular the Conference of the Parties (COP) under the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The European Union has become an important international actor in this area with its focus shifting toward global warming, including the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and achievement of a higher energy efficiency. The EU commissioner for climate action (2009 to 2014) was a Dane who had previously been minister for climate and energy in Denmark. Her appointment as commissioner was seen as a recognition of Denmark’s efforts in that area. The current government keeps working for an ambitious climate strategy within the European Union.

There is broad understanding in Denmark that global environmental protection is an international issue. It is a policy area in which civil society is very actively putting pressure on politicians. In domestic policy discussions, there is increasing focus on whether policies are sufficiently ambitious. The government’s target is that 50% of energy consumption will be based on renewable energy by 2030 . Moreover, the government has launched a Partnership for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030 (P4G). A broad agreement reached in parliament implies investment in three new offshore windfarms and lower electricity taxes. Domestically, the most important proposal focuses on phasing out diesel and petrol cars, mentioning that the transport sector is responsible for a quarter of the country’s domestic carbon dioxide emissions.

The P4G, which was initiated by the prime minster, held a summit in Copenhagen in October 2018, with more than 800 participants developing public-private partnerships to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Danish Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2012, EU Environmental Policy, I/Miljoepolitik (accessed 27 April 2013).

“Klimaindsatsen i Danmark,” (accessed 19 October 2014).

Web site of Ministry of the Environment: (Accessed 19 October 2014).

“Danmark udpeget som klimaskurk på topmøde i Paris,” (Accessed 23 October 2016).

Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen’s Opening Address to the Folketing on 3 October 2017” (accessed 20 October 2017).

Statsministerens tale ved Folketingets åbning, 2. oktober 2018, (Accessed 9 October 2018).

P4G Copenhagen Summit 2018: Accelerating partnerships, (Accessed 7 November 2018).
International regimes are often sector-specific. The core of each international regime is formed by international regulatory and administrative systems, which are created and implemented through formal agreements. While Finland is certainly committed to observing many multilateral and bilateral environmental agreements concerning climate change and air pollution, Finland is not among the primary agenda-setters with regard to the advancement of international regimes. However, Finland has received ratings ranging from “good” to “satisfying” in international comparisons of environmental-protection standards, such as the Environmental Sustainability Index. Finland is currently chairing the Arctic Council (2017 – 2019), an obligation that has strengthened the international position of the country, especially with regards to questions pertaining to the Arctic region. In operational terms, Finland continues to promote the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has developed guidelines on how to arrange environmentally sustainable meetings, conferences and seminars.
Katrina Running, “Examining Environmental Concern in Developed, Transitioning and Developing Countries”, World Values Research 5 (1): 1-25, 2012;
“Exploring Common Solutions - Finlands Chairmanship Program for the Arctic Council 2017-2019”, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 2017.
All French governments in recent decades have been committed to advancing environmental policies at the global level. Under former President Sarkozy, France was among the leading group of countries trying to secure an agreement on climate change mitigation at the 2009 U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. In this tradition, French diplomats were particularly active in preparation for the U.N. Climate Change Conference chaired by France in December 2015. The global agreement reached at this conference is a success for French diplomacy. This commitment is supported by the entire political class and Macron has fully endorsed the policy choices made by Hollande. For instance, Macron has tried to convince the U.S. president, Donald Trump, to remain committed to the pledge of the previous U.S. administration and announced at the United Nations in September 2018 that France would not sign any international agreement with countries which are not part of the COP 21 agreement. It remains to be seen if this commitment will be more than a symbolic gesture. For the openness to internationally approved, more drastic and protective policies reaches a limit when French interests are at stake. For instance, any policy which would reduce the capacity of the nuclear energy industry to grow is frowned on by France, despite the unresolved issue of nuclear waste dumps.
Backed by the strong ecological concerns of voters, Germany is a driving force in international climate policy, in the development of renewable energies, and in efforts to improve energy and resource efficiency. The German government actively promotes strategies fostering environment- and climate-friendly development.

The G7 summit held in June 2015 achieved remarkable progress toward an international agreement for global climate protection. Germany, using its presidency of the G7, was able to ensure that climate policy had the highest priority during the summit, setting the stage for the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement committed to a maximum rise in average global temperatures of “well below 2 degrees.” The agreement was praised as a breakthrough because, for the first time, nations have to define their contributions to fighting climate change. The Paris Agreement was formally ratified by the European Union on 5 October 2016 and put into force on 4 November 2016. Germany also ratified the Paris Agreement. The Bundesrat agreed to it in September 2016 after the Bundestag unanimously approved it. However, detailed measures for the implementation of the ambitious climate objectives were not part of the Paris Agreement.

In November 2017, the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP 23) was hosted in Bonn, Germany. The conference was held shortly after the German general elections on 24 September 2017 and before a new government was yet in office. As a consequence, the new government was not able to present a detailed environmental policy. Astonishingly, Chancellor Angela Merkel opposed the new EU climate objectives that had been announced in August 2018 by the EU Commissioner for Climate Change, Miguel Arias Canete. The new goal of the EU climate policy shall now be a reduction in the carbon dioxide emissions by about 45% instead of the hitherto planned 40% (compared to 1990). New environmental regulations may result from the U.N. Climate Change Conference which will be hold in Katowice, Poland, in November 2018.

Germany’s reputation as a global leader in environmental policies has taken some damage since the German government had to admit that it will fail to realize its emission reduction targets for 2020.
Leadersʼ Declaration G7 Summit, (7– 8 June 2015):

European Commission (2016): Paris Agreement. Online source:
International environmental protection policy is very important to the current government.
Luxembourg has planned to invest a total of €120 million in international climate aid between 2014 and 2020. To date, €100 million has already been pledged with a further €12 million to be donated to NGOs.
In addition, Luxembourg also plays an important role in “green finance.” The “Forestry and Climate Change Fund,” which was launched in 2017 by the Luxembourg state, in cooperation with several banks and an insurance company, aims to help local farmers to sustainably manage deforested rainforests and secondary forests.

The latest climate goal for the Grand Duchy is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to 2005. According to current estimates, Luxembourg could reach the Kyoto Protocol climate goals by 2020. However, the goal of a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions between 2020 and 2030 presents a considerable challenge.

So far, Luxembourg has failed to meet the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol on its own. Between 2008 and 2012, greenhouse gas emissions should have been reduced by 28% compared to 1990.

Since 2013, the common European goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20%. Emission allowances may no longer be traded internationally, only in Europe. According to the Secretary of State, the sectors in Luxembourg that cannot make use of the European certificate trade are “on track” – despite the fact that the population has grown considerably during this period. At the same time, however, less fuel was consumed.

Most greenhouse gas emissions (in non-certified sectors) are caused by the mobility sector (64.2% in 2016), followed by buildings (19.1% in 2016) and agriculture (9.1% in 2016). Fuel tourists, people who only travel to Luxembourg from abroad to refuel their cars, only contribute a small part.

As with national planning, the government now wants to rely on citizen participation. A third climate plan for Luxembourg is to be drafted under the title “Generating Climate: Climate Change Together for the Future.” Thus, citizens are able to participate in working groups.
“Politique pour la protection du climat: bilan et enjeux futurs – Solidarité internationale – coopération avec les communes – mesures ciblées nationales.” Accessed 22 Oct. 2018.

Interview Carole Dieschbourg in the Börsen-Zeitung [Germany]: “Green Finance hat eine sehr große Zukunft vor sich.” 15 Mai 2018. Accessed 27 Nov. 2018.

Pierre Gramegna et Carole Dieschbourg présentent la nouvelle «Luxembourg Sustainable Finance Roadmap». Accessed 22 Oct. 2018.

Koch, Tonia: “Zwischen Tanktourismus und Anti-Diesel-Politik.” Accessed 5 Nov. 2018.

Schlammes, Marc: “Tanktourismus-Studie liegt vor: Kosten übertreffen Einnahmen,” in:, 25 November 2016. Accessed 8 Nov. 2018.
New Zealand
New Zealand has a mixed record with respect to its contribution to the global environmental protection regime. After initially committing to the Kyoto protocol, a change of government resulted in the decision to withdraw from the treaty. Nevertheless, the National-led government did commit to reducing emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. On the other hand, it was pointed out that the country would not be able to achieve this goal if the off-setting effects of its forestry policies were to be excluded. In accordance with the Paris Agreement on climate change, New Zealand committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 5% below 1990 levels by 2020 – the new post-2020 target is equivalent to 11% below 1990 levels by 2030. The government ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change in October 2016. It also announced that New Zealand would ratify the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol and continue to apply the Kyoto rules under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The formal ratification took place in November 2016. After the U.S. government announced its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, the government reiterated its commitment to the Agreement
Estonia is engaged in a broad spectrum of activities to advance global environmental policy, but Estonia rarely, if ever, takes a proactive position in this area. Still, it has joined most important global and European agreements and displayed its commitment to these international agreements and targets. Estonia ratified the Paris Agreement and is taking steps to switch to more environmentally sustainable economic and behavioral models. In October 2014, Estonia agreed on EU energy and climate goals for 2030. Broadly speaking, the Ministry of Environment focuses on two aspects of international cooperation: using international experience to improve the state of the environment in Estonia and using Estonia’s experience to provide support to other countries.
The Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources is responsible for the country’s involvement in international environmental affairs. Iceland participates in the UNEP, and is active under the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21 in areas of sustainable development. Iceland is also one of the eight member states of the Arctic Council, a cooperation forum directed primarily toward environmental affairs and sustainable development, which includes five working groups. Two of these working groups – the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna and Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment – are located in Akureyri, in the north of Iceland. In early 2016 it was decided to move the secretariat of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) from Potsdam, Germany to Akureyri. The mission of IASC is to encourage and facilitate cooperation in all aspects of Arctic research, among all countries engaged in Arctic research and in all areas of the Arctic region.

Whaling remains a controversial economic activity in Iceland. On 15 September 2014, all 28 EU member states as well as the United States, Australia, Brazil, Israel, Mexico, and New Zealand formally protested the continued practice of whaling in Iceland. The government of Iceland has not yet reacted to this protest and whaling continues, even though it is increasingly difficult to find markets for whale meat.

Iceland is still engaged in a dispute with the European Union over quotas for mackerel fishing. In 2014, an agreement was reached between the European Union, Norway, and the Faroe Islands. However, the agreement did not include Iceland. Mackerel migrates in huge numbers from international to Icelandic waters, and Iceland has been accused of overfishing mackerel. However, in 2018, there seems to be significantly less mackerel in the seas around Iceland, so the importance of this issue may fade.

Iceland was fully engaged at the Paris conference on climate change in late 2015 and on 22 April 2016 the minister of environment and natural resources signed the Paris agreement. New measures included in a new climate strategy (September 2018) are meant to help Iceland meet its Paris Agreement targets for 2030 and reach the government’s ambitious goal to make Iceland carbon neutral before 2040.
Ireland’s environmental policies are largely framed within an EU context. The Irish taoiseach (prime minister) attended the UN Climate Summit in New York in September 2014 and stated during his speech that “Ireland will play its role as part of the EU contribution to the global effort. The European Union is committed to bringing forward its contribution to a global agreement early in 2015.” However, at the October 2014 EU summit, when this climate agreement was being drafted, Ireland entered pleas for special consideration regarding carbon emissions from its agricultural sector.
For many years, international climate policy profited considerably from Japanese commitment to the process, with the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 as the most visible evidence. After Kyoto, however, Japan assumed a much more passive role. The Fukushima disaster in 2011, after which Japan had to find substitutes for its greenhouse-gas-free nuclear-power generation, rendered implausible a 2009 pledge to decrease greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions by a quarter by 2020 (as compared to 1990). In the 2015 energy outlook for 2030, Japan announced that it would slash its emissions by 26% in 2030 (compared to 2013 levels).

Japan supports the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change and has adopted relevant measures, including the May 2016 Plan for Global Warming Countermeasures. The plan reconfirms the 26% reduction goal for 2030, which is at the lower end for OECD countries. In 2017, the Environment Ministry published a long-term low-carbon vision, setting a goal of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by 80% by 2050. However, the document also notes divergent opinions on specific policy directions.

The government has announced that climate change will be high on its agenda for the G-20 summit it will host in 2019. It also plans to address the issue of ocean pollution. This emphasis is in line with the Third Basic Plan on Ocean Policy passed in May 2018.

With respect to multilaterally organized conservation issues, Japan is particularly known for its resistance to giving up whaling, which remains a high-profile and emotional issue. The country supports numerous international environmental-protection programs by contributing funds and making advanced technologies available, including support for the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Japan), Analysis and Proposal of Foreign Policies Regarding the Impact of Climate Change on Fragility in the Asia-Pacific Region – With focus on natural disasters in the Region, September 2017

Ministry of the Environment (Japan), Outline of Long-term Low-carbon Vision, Tentative translation, 2017

Jiji, Climate change will be high on next year’s G20 summit agenda: Abe, The Japan Times, 25 September 2018,
Lithuanian policymakers do contribute to international efforts to strengthen global environmental-protection regimes, but this policy area is not perceived as a government priority. Lithuania has demonstrated commitment to existing regimes (especially those promulgated by the EU or promoted by its institutions) by incorporating international or European environmental provisions into national legislation or strategic documents and implementing them. For example, in 2012, the Lithuanian parliament approved a national policy strategy on climate-change management as a further step in implementing Lithuania’s commitments in the area of climate change and energy. Although Lithuanian policymakers are not usually active in advancing global environmental strategies, Lithuania contributed to the Warsaw Climate Change Conference in 2013 as part of its presidency of the European Council. In addition, Lithuania successfully initiated the 2013 U.N. resolution on cooperative measures to assess and increase awareness of environmental effects related to waste originating from chemical munitions dumped at sea. The country’s institutions are most active at the regional level, for instance addressing issues related to the Baltic Sea. In recent years, concerns about the safety of nuclear power plants under construction in neighboring Belarus have become an important issue.
Spain is committed to existing multilateral environmental protection regimes (including the Paris Agreement on climate change, and the 2030 Agenda with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals). During the period under review, the Spanish government supported the efforts of the COP 24 climate summit, and reinforced its intention to preserve the global environment, including through the creation of a High Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda with horizontal competences across the entire public administration. The Spanish government also supported several foreign projects (such as the construction of wind farms in developing countries and the establishment of the Ibero-American Network of Climate Change Offices, in conjunction with Latin American countries), as well as emissions-trading projects aimed at helping the country comply with its pledges to reduce national CO2 emissions. More importantly in terms of international initiatives, Spain joined the Carbon Neutrality Coalition. The members of the Carbon Neutrality Coalition, which include Canada, Denmark and the United Kingdom, have vowed to reach a state of carbon neutrality by 2050.
Citations:, (2018), 19 countries team up to go carbon neutral,
November (2017), “Progress toward Europe’s climate and energy targets” themes/climate/trends-and-projections-in-europe/trends-and-projections -in-europe-2017/index
Australia is not prioritizing the advancement of global environmental protection regimes. After winning the 2013 election, the coalition abolished the carbon tax introduced by the previous labor government. While this is a domestic issue, the coalition’s strong anti-carbon tax posture indicates the Liberal party and its coalition partner is much less enthusiastic than the previous Labor party government about participating in a global environmental protection regime.
Austria’s approach to global environmental policy is full of contradictions. Rhetorically, Austria (the government, political parties, media) paints itself as a frontrunner in global governance, from Kyoto to Copenhagen and Paris. In practice, however, the country’s efforts do not support this conclusion. Austria is still proud of its 1978 decision not to use nuclear energy, one of the first countries to do so worldwide. This has become a kind of national narrative, in which Austria is proud to be in the vanguard of enlightened environmental consciousness. Austria tends to lecture others, including its neighbors in Europe, about the need to improve ecological standards. But when it has come to the practical job of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, Austria continues to fall behind its peers. The real power of special interests (such as the automobile associations, goods transporters, and industry) has thus far proven too strong to overcome.

When the U.S. president declared that the United States will not respect the Paris climate agreement, the public reaction in Austria was very critical of the American trend to lower environmental protection standards. But, the anti-Trump mood in Austria is indirectly used to cover-up Austria’s underperformance in most aspects of climate change.

The Austrian government is still committed to the Paris climate agreement despite some signals of a greater support for the U.S. position since Donald Trump has become president. In addition, Austria appears increasingly less interested in playing the role of vanguard in matters of environmental protection – either globally or within the European Union.
The government demonstrates commitment to existing regimes and international efforts but it is not a genuine promoter of global environmental protection. There has been at least one specific initiative regarding the protection of Antarctica, but in general terms, the government neither initiates significant reforms nor plays a leading role in their advancement. Chile signed the Paris Agreement on climate change in September 2016, which was ratified by the parliament in January 2017.
Croatia strongly adheres to international environmental standards. During the accession negotiations with the European Union, Croatia incorporated these standards in its national law almost completely. The country has also supported the goals of the Kyoto Protocol and played a major role in the United Nations’ decision to make 2011 the International Year of Forests. In the period under review, however, Croatia did not launch any major global initiatives. With regard to implementation of the targets set by the Kyoto Protocol, Croatia has reduced emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Also, the share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption is 20%.
The contribution of the Italian government to international efforts in the field of global environmental protection has been generally positive. Italy has been supportive of coordinated international actions, including the recent COP 21 Paris conference, but in general has not played a significant leadership role. This is due also to the fact that the resources of the Ministry of Environment have been seriously curtailed. Due to the recent economic crisis, the attention of the government and the priorities of the prime minister have been diverted to internal matters, and economic recovery. The June 2017 G7 meeting, chaired by Italy the minister of environment, reaffirmed Italy’s strong support for COP21. At the 2017 Bonn COP23 summit, Italy joined the anti-coal alliance, declaring that it would phase coal out by 2030.
Malta’s small size has traditionally hindered it from being a key player in international global policy forums. Nonetheless, since independence, it has been influential in the Law of the Sea and was instrumental in the adoption of the Protection of Global Climate for Present and Future Generations of Mankind resolution, which gave rise to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol in 1988. Moreover, Malta has played a dynamic role in efforts to meet climate resolutions agreed to in Copenhagen in 2009 with former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon describing Malta as a key player in the efforts to “seal the deal.”

Malta is party to a large number of multilateral environment agreements. As an EU member state, Malta is bound by the obligations of the EU’s extensive environmental acquis. When Malta joined the European Union, it adopted some 200 environmental laws, which are now part of the overall Maltese legal framework. Malta has attempted to play a part in formulating a Mediterranean strategy for sustainable development. Nonetheless, the island fell eight places in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals ranking in 2018.

In the run-up to the Paris Summit on Climate Change, Malta’s prime minister hosted a special session on Climate for Leaders during the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta. More than a quarter of the 2015 CHOGM participants attended the Paris Summit and the 2015 CHOGM was used as a forum within which support was consolidated. In 2016, Malta became one of the first countries to complete domestic preparations for the ratification of the Paris Agreement and subsequently deposited its Instrument of Ratification to the UN together with other EU member states.

In October 2017, Malta hosted the EU’s Our Ocean Conference. The conference led to the adoption of 437 tangible and measurable commitments, among other deliverables. Moreover, Malta recently proposed the establishment of a framework that would coordinate actions related to ocean governance both within and outside the UN. However, Malta remains an insignificant, if active, player in global environmental protection.
Times of Malta 12/12/2008 UN Secretary General recalls Malta’s climate change initiative BT4qfl95PY
Newsbook 11/10/2018 Malta falls 8 places in UN Sustainable Development Goals ranking
The Malta Independent 07/09/2015 CHOGM 2015 to give final push to Paris climate change Summit – Environment Minister
The Malta Independent 30/09/2016 Malta among first countries to finalize preparations for ratification of Paris Agreement Environment and development in the Mediterranean
Times of Malta 30/07/2018 Malta proposes UN panel on ocean governance
On the one hand, Mexico is interested in raising its international profile as a promotor of multilateralism by supporting the Kyoto Protocol and other multilateral environmental agreements. On the other hand, Mexico’s own economy still relies to a significant extent on the export of oil and gas, so that important legal initiatives (e.g., climate-change law) face serious implementation problems.

Mexico relishes having an international profile that shows independence from the United States. International environmental protection contributes to such a profile. Mexico is a leading international actor on environmental policy within the region, even if its domestic policies are inconsistent: Mexico is still the second-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in Latin America. Firewood remains the primary fuel used by poor Mexican families. Moreover, the importance of the oil industry for the Mexican economy creates substantial barriers to credible domestic action even as it seeks to position itself as a pioneer in international environmental protection.

Mexican authorities and the public are at least much more aware of environmental issues and their resulting problems than they were a generation ago. The country’s climate-change law went into effect in October 2012, drawing international praise. There is an underfunded Climate Change Fund, created to finance adaptation and greenhouse-gas emissions-reduction initiatives. Its operating rules have apparently been completed, but have not yet been published. Additional challenges associated with implementing the law relate to the creation of a national climate-change information system, the effective reduction of greenhouse gases, and producing assessments of adaptation and mitigation measures. Mexico is also one of the main recipients of clean development mechanisms in Latin America. It has advocated for the continuation of this development and environmental cooperation mechanism in several environmental policy forums.

Overall, Mexico was one of the first countries in the world to pass a specific law on climate change. The law set an obligatory target of reducing national greenhouse-gas emissions by 30% by 2020. The country also has a National Climate Change Strategy, which is intended to guide policymaking over the next 40 years. However, only about half of the Mexican states had drawn up a state plan on climate change, just seven had passed their own laws and only 11 had begun measuring their CO2 emissions. Thus, on the one hand, Mexico has been very active in the preparation of the U.N. Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) agenda, reflecting the country’s traditional multilateral approach to foreign policymaking. Mexico has been an active participant in climate-change talks involving international organizations. During the most recent COP23 meeting in 2017, it was praised for its innovative policies on gathering data about electricity consumption in central Mexico. However, this proactive approach to environmental policymaking at the international level is not matched by a commitment to domestic environmental policymaking.
Portugal agrees to and participates in EU-wide policies on the environment. Portugal signed the Kyoto Protocol, and ratified the Paris Agreement in September 2016. The country has also become much more active in promoting the global protection of marine environments in particular. This is reflected in Portugal’s performance in the 2018 Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), in which Portugal is rated “high” and ranked seventh worldwide in terms of national and international climate policy performance. Nevertheless, the proviso in the previous question regarding implementation of domestic environmental policy is applicable at the global level also.
Geography determines the priorities of Slovenia’s international environmental relationships, notably with respect to water management and the conservation of biodiversity. Slovenia’s commitment to sustainable development on a regional and subregional scale is articulated through various cooperation agreements covering the alps, the Danube and its tributaries, and the Mediterranean (including the Adriatic). The Dinaric Arc area is an emerging focus of cooperation. Bilateral cooperation between Slovenia and its neighboring countries includes water management agreements with Croatia, Hungary and Italy, as well as agreements with Austria on spatial planning in border regions. Slovenia has continued to maintain many informal contacts at a professional/ technical level with the countries of the Western Balkans. Compared to these regional activities, Slovenia’s contribution to strengthening global environmental protection regimes has been modest.
South Korea
South Korea ratified the Paris Agreement of 2015 on 3 November 2016 and hosts the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF). However, the country has fallen behind with regard to its climate-protection obligations. Korea is the seventh-largest emitter of carbon-dioxide emissions, and twelfth with regard to total greenhouse-gas emissions. It has officially announced that it will cut its emissions by 2030 to a level 37% below the business-as-usual (BAU) trend, which means an increase of 81% over the levels of 1990. To achieve these goals, the government has launched several emissions-reduction programs such as an emissions-trading system for key sectors, a green building plan, an incentive program supporting electric and hybrid vehicles, and support for environmentally friendly public transportation. Unfortunately, according to the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), South Korea is unlikely under current policies to meet its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) target, which the CAT already rates as “highly insufficient.” Indeed, under current projections, Korea’s emissions will be more than 150% above 1990 levels in 2030. The Moon administration – like previous governments – does not place a particularly high priority on its global environmental responsibilities. Instead of articulating a comprehensive strategy for a transition to a carbon-neutral society, the government has been quick to cave in to populist demands for low electricity and fuel prices.
Korea Times, Korea to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 37% by 2030, Jun 30, 2015
Climate Action Tracker. South Korea. September 17, 2017.
Hankyoreh. “A step backward for the South Korean government’s goals for greenhouse gas reduction.” January 30, 2017.
NRDC: Paris Climate Conference: South Korea. November 2015.
The Dutch government has traditionally been a strong supporter of EU leadership in the Kyoto process of global climate policy and advancing global environmental protection regimes. It has also signed related international treaties on safety, food security, energy and international justice. The government keeps aspiring to a coherent sustainability policy or a “policy agenda for globalization.” The government sees resource and energy scarcity, transborder disease control, climate change, transborder crime and international trade agreements as the great global issues.

As an immediate response, climate change is addressed mainly as a mitigation effort, for example, through the Dutch Risk Reduction Team, offering assistance and expertise to water-related risk areas around the globe. A coherent globalization policy also means research and monitoring of the undermining impacts of one policy on other policies. In spite of this intention, Dutch reassessment of development aid appears to favor bilateral over multilateral global sustainability policy. For example, the financing of Dutch initiatives in advancing global public goods is no longer separately budgeted but is instead part of the diminishing development aid budget.

Military aspects have been added to the International Safety Budget, which previously contained only diplomatic and civic activities. Defense spending in response to the revival of NATO in Europe and the threats in the Middle East will increase from €220 million to €345 million between 2016 and 2020. As mentioned under the previous indicator (P15.1, the Paris Climate Accords have triggered major new Dutch policy initiatives for global environmental protection.
Kabinetsreactie op het WRR-rapport: Minder pretentie, meer ambitie (2010) (

Additional reference:

Rijksbegroting 2016 Defensie (, consulted 8 November 2016)
The government demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, but neither fosters their advancement nor initiates appropriate reforms.
The Bulgarian government is relatively passive with respect to international environmental and climate policies. While it is ahead of the global curve in terms of the introduction of renewables in the energy mix, it is in the group of East-Central European countries that are more cautious about adopting aggressive carbon reduction targets. The Bulgarian government chose not to include environmental topics among its priorities during its presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Environmental policy in Czechia is significantly shaped by the country’s obligations to implement EU legislation. In June 2016, together with other EU countries, Czechia agreed to a 20% greenhouse gas reduction target by 2020 (baseline is 1990). This is in line with Agenda 2020. Czechia remains a passive recipient of EU and international agendas. Together with other East-Central European member states, Czechia has opposed more ambitious goals. In its government manifesto, the Babiš government has reiterated its commitment to the tasks and objectives of the Paris Agreement.
Issues of global environmental protection do not feature very prominently in Hungary. The Orbán government has stressed its commitment to the EU’s environmental policy but has not been a driving force. The controversial extension of the Paks nuclear power plant will help reduce carbon-dioxide emissions but has raised other environmental issues such as the storage of nuclear waste. Moreover, it has prompted conflicts with neighboring countries.
Despite having a president and, until recently, a prime minister from the Union of Greens and Farmers party, Latvia is not an international environmental policy agenda-setter. The country has agreed to comply with international agreements, such as the Kyoto Protocol, but does not have the political or economic capacity to lead on a global scale.

As an EU member state, Latvia is bound by EU legislation, with EU climate policy particularly influential. Latvia indirectly contributes to EU initiatives, but does not directly advance global environmental protection regimes.

Latvia has joined the following international conventions regarding environmental protection and preservation: the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, the CITES (Washington) Convention, the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention), the Convention on Migratory Species (Bonn Convention), the Agreement on the Conservation of Populations of European Bats, the Convention on Biological Diversity (Rio de Janeiro Convention) and the Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area (Helsinki Convention).

Latvia has been a party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) since 1995 and to the Kyoto Protocol since 2002. Under the Kyoto Protocol, Latvia and the other EU member states committed themselves to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 8% relative to the baseline-year level during the first commitment period, from 2008 to 2012. The 2018 Climate Change Performance Index, which evaluated emissions trends, emissions levels and climate policy, rated Latvia as a good performer, but noted its sub-par performance on climate change.

Latvia has also signed bilateral cooperation agreements on the issue of environmental policy with Austria, Belarus, Denmark, Georgia, Estonia, Russia, Lithuania, Moldova, the Netherlands, Poland, Serbia, Finland and Ukraine. The country is party to the Helsinki Commission Baltic Sea Action plan of 2007, which aims to improve the Baltic Sea’s ecological status by 2021.
1. Germanwatch (2017). Climate Change Performance Index. Available at: Last assessed 06.10.2017

2. Yale University (2018), Environmental Performance Index Rankings, Available at: Last assessed: 31.12.2018
Romania continues to be an active participant in multilateral fora focused on environmental stewardship and climate change. An example of this engagement was the announcement that Romania is the future home of a North American Treaty Organization (NATO) Centre of Excellence focused on environmental protection. The new center will be co-developed and managed by the Ministries of Defense and the Environment. Like all signatories to the 2015 Paris Conference on Climate Change, Romania has taken some measures to uphold its commitments, but the withdrawal of the United States has relieved some international pressure to meet its obligations.
Slovakia has not acted as an international agenda-setter for global environmental policy. It is rather difficult for a small country to shape the global framework. Moreover, given Slovakia’s state of economic development, environmental issues are not the top priority of policymakers. The overall policy framework regarding climate change in the Slovak Republic is in line with EU strategies. Slovakia also complies with international treaties. In September 2016, the Slovak parliament ratified the Paris Agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, making the country the fourth to do so. The ratification of the agreement by all key states, including the European Union, featured prominently among Slovakia’s priorities during its EU presidency in the second half of 2016. The Fico government questioned the EU target of producing 27% of final energy consumption from renewable sources by 2030, which will be difficult to achieve for Slovakia.
Turkey’s Climate Change Action Plan 2011 – 2023 stresses its adherence to international commitments, standards and measures and foresees increasing cooperation with international actors, especially in the fields of combating climate change and improving energy efficiency, along with an active role in international activities more generally.

Reservations based on national concerns complicated negotiations of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which entered into force on 4 November 2016 after 55 parties to the convention joined the agreement. The Turkish Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning signed the Paris Agreement in New York, and the agreement was ratified by Turkey on 22 April 2016. So far, policy changes that would fulfill the necessary reform requirements and strengthen environmental sustainability in Turkey remain rather superficial.

A special project on Sustainable Development Goals Situation Analysis Project Turkey was launched by Escarus, and the Turkey Industry and Development Bank in early 2017 within the scope of sustainable development goals of U.N. Agenda 2030.
Republic of Turkey, Climate Change Action Plan 2011-2023, (accessed 5 November 2014)

Ümit Şahin (2016), Warming a Frozen Policy: Challenges to Turkey’s Climate Politics after Paris, Turkish Policy Quarterly, Volume 15 Number 2, pp. 116-129.

Escarus _TSKB Sustainability Consultancy, (accessed 27 October 2018).
Global efforts to foster environmental protection are coordinated by the European Commission, and the Belgian government seems to prefer a backseat role in that process. In the previous government, the minister of sustainable development portfolio was held by the minister of finance. In the present government, the minister for energy and the environment had never worked on energy or environmental matters before taking the position. Belgium has not sought or assumed a proactive role in the design and advancement of global environmental-protection schemes – especially since several aspects of environmental-protection policy have now been devolved to the regions, which leads to frequent difficulties in the formulation of a clear Belgian (federal/national) position.
Cyprus has ratified many international conventions and protocols related to environmental protection as well as participates in numerous international organizations and meetings. However, policies are not proactive and though authorities appear concerned with meeting obligations to the EU and other bodies, they often fail to act efficiently. Poor performance in this respect means that Cyprus is not an agenda setter, although it occasionally takes an active ad hoc role in international meetings. One area where the republic has contributed to shaping EU policies is integrated maritime policy.
Greece participated in the negotiations and signed the Paris Climate Agreement of December 2015. However, owing to its prolonged economic crisis, Greece has not carried enough international clout to substantially contribute to strengthening global environmental protection regimes. Moreover, any emissions reduction is owed less to the strengthening of environmental protections and more to the fact that the economy remains stagnant, with industrial and other businesses closing down or relocating to other countries.
Data on emissions reduction is provided by tables available on this SGI platform.
Israel is a relatively small participant in the international climate-policy network, but is constantly contributing innovative environmental technologies, and is demonstrating responsibility in its local policy. In recent years it has taken a larger role in environmental policy matters, partly due to a rise in public awareness of these issues, and partly due to its accession to international organizations and treaties. Israel has signed, ratified or acceded 20 environmental conventions, as well as several amendments and protocols to those conventions.

The country has been forced to develop technological and ecological solutions due to the unique and diverse nature of the Israeli climate, the country’s scarcity of natural drinking water, and its hostile neighboring countries. Thus, it has become a dominant actor in the “clean tech” field. The country has developed an industry of more than 400 companies dedicated exclusively to sustainable water, energy and environmental technologies. It has launched green-technology projects aimed at demonstrating its achievements in the fields of desalination and water recycling, and actively shares information and technologies with other countries. Israel is also involved in international anti-desertification efforts, since it is an important exporter of new methods and technologies developed specifically for arid regions.
OECD, “Israel’s Green Tax on Cars” OECD Environment Policy Paper, July 2016,

“Israel and World Bank Group sign agreement to share innovative best practices in water,” The World Bank website 17.6.2015:

Israel Ministry of Environment Protection:
Poland has largely implemented EU environmental standards. However, it has been one of the primary internal critics of the European Union’s climate policy and emissions-trading system. Across the political spectrum, large parts of the Polish political elite have feared that ambitious international or European climate-protection regimes will reduce Poland’s energy independence and place too heavy a burden on the Polish economy. In line with this approach, it was also Prime Minister Szydło’s goal at the World Climate Council in Paris, held in late November 2015, to get special conditions acknowledged because of the country’s energy and economic dependence on its coal industry. This did not materialize and at the follow-up conference in Bonn in 2017 pressure to phase out coal further increased. Poland agreed in Bonn to host the World Climate Council 2018 (COP 24) in Katowice and to chair the so-called Talanoa Dialogue forum (jointly with Fiji), which aims to find compromises to help countries fulfill their climate-protection goals. Some experts see it as a move by Poland to win more acceptance for its coal-friendly energy policy. In contrast, others see a shift in Polish policy following increased pressure from NGOs, think tanks and the renewable energy sector. In Katowice, Polish representatives presented an initiative called “Forest Coal Farms,” which was focused on reforestation efforts as a means of combating climate change.
Meier, F. (2018): Polen will ein bisschen weg von der Kohle, in: Klimareporter, November 8 (

Riedel, R. (2019): Die polnische Klima- und Energiepolitik. Polen-Analysen Nr. 230, Darmstadt/ Bremen (
The government does not contribute to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes.
The Trump administration represents a sharp reversal of the U.S. role on international environmental issues. From the late 1960s to the early 1990s, the United States exercised leadership on a wide range of international environmental issues. However, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases (GHGs) was a turning point, as the Clinton administration signed the protocol, committing the United States to a schedule of emission reductions, but later abandoned an evidently doomed effort to win Senate ratification. In 2001, the Bush administration formally withdrew the United States’ endorsement of the protocol.

The Obama administration sharply reversed Bush’s policy direction on environmental issues, especially with regard to climate change. But limited support from Congress and the public constrained U.S. positions in international negotiations. Nevertheless, the U.S. rejoined the United Nations process on climate change. In 2014, it committed to reducing total U.S. carbon emissions by 26% to 28% in comparison with 2005 levels, and it played a leading role in the December 2015 U.N. Conference on Climate Change (COP21), although lacking an effective national carbon reduction strategy.

In his presidential campaign, Donald Trump denied the reality of human-driven climate change and vowed to abandon costly policies designed to control greenhouse gases. As president, Trump has withdrawn the United States from the international climate-change regime and canceled U.S. contributions to support conversion to clean energy by low-income countries. Importantly, some states (especially California) have indicated their intention to continue progress in reducing carbon emissions. But California does not play a significant role in supporting the international regimes for environmental control. Under President Trump there will no leadership and little, if any, cooperation from the U.S. federal government in international climate-change efforts.
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