Environmental organisations have succeeded in influencing the EU to set long term climate goals. However, in practical politics, the industry is the winner of the climate battle so far, according to a recent PhD thesis.
The EU has set ambitious goals for greenhouse gas reductions the coming decades. But implementing necessary measures to reach the goals can prove to be much more difficult, according to a PhD thesis on European climate lobbyism.
“The environmental organisations convinced politicians to promise large emission reductions on a long term. However, the EU's climate and energy package from December last year shows that the promises are hard to follow up with actions”, said Anne-Therese Gullberg
, a research fellow at CICERO.
The climate and energy package kept the targets of 20 percent cut in emissions of greenhouse gases, a 20 percent share of renewables in the energy mix; and a 20 percent cut in energy consumption. However, changes had been made to the original package unveiled by the European Commission in January 2008, to address European industrialists' concerns. For example, the final package allowed for a larger use of CDM quotas to compensate for emissions in the European territory.
“The EU sticks to its long term goals, but many of the measures needed to reach the goals turn out to be politically unfeasible”, Gullberg said.
In her studies, she found that interest groups lobbying EU climate policy agree on which lobbying strategies they prefer and see as rational. However, while business organisations generally are capable of mobilising the necessary resources to follow their preferred strategies, environmental organisations often lack the necessary resources.
“Because environmental organisations lack resources, they choose to focus on a few single policy decisions, while business organisations also invest in general lobbying”, Gullberg said.
Her studies conclude that business organisations have better access to the EU climate policy than environmental organisations.
Easier access in Norway
Gullberg also compared EU lobbyism to lobbyism in Norway, a small, parliamentary system. There she found that interest groups in Norway in general find easier access to politicians in Norway than interest groups in Europe.
“Interest groups seeking access at the EU level consider it to be more resource-demanding than interest groups seeking access in Norway”, she said.
“The EU’s decisions are made in many bodies: In the European Commission, in the European Parliament and in the Council of the European Union. This creates many opportunities to influence decisions, but it also makes lobbyism resource demanding”, Anne-Therese Gullberg concludes.