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Fighting windmills? EU industrial interests and global climate negotiations


  • Urs Steiner Brandt

    () (Department of Environmental and Business Economics, University of Southern Denmark)

  • Gert Tinggaard Svendsen

    () (Department of Political Science, University of Aarhus)


Why has the EU been so eager to continue the climate negotiations? Can it be solely attributed to the EU feeling morally obliged to be the main initiator of continued progress on the climate change negotiations, or can industrial inter-ests in the EU, at least partly, explain the behaviour of the EU? We suggest that the EU has a rational economic interest in forcing the technological develop-ment of renewable energy sources to get a first-mover advantage, which will only pay if a sufficient number of countries implement sufficiently stringent GHG reductions. The Kyoto Protocol, which imposes binding reductions on 38 OECD countries, implies that, as a first-mover, the EU will be to sell the neces-sary new renewable technologies, most prominently wind mills, to other coun-tries, when they ratify and implement the Kyoto target levels. In the latest EU proposal made in Johannesburg, the EU pushed for setting a target of 15% of all energy to come from sources such as windmills, solar panels and waves by 2015. Such a target would further the EU’s interests globally, and could ex-plain, in economic terms, why the EU eagerly promotes GHG trade at a global level whereas the US has left the Kyoto agreement to save the import costs of buying the EU’s renewable systems.

Suggested Citation

  • Urs Steiner Brandt & Gert Tinggaard Svendsen, 2003. "Fighting windmills? EU industrial interests and global climate negotiations," Working Papers 37/03, University of Southern Denmark, Department of Sociology, Environmental and Business Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sdk:wpaper:37

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Brandt, Urs Steiner, 2004. "Unilateral actions, the case of international environmental problems," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 373-391, December.
    2. Madsen, Erik Strøjer & Jensen, Camilla & Hansen, Jørgen Drud, 2002. "Scale in Technology and Learning-by-Doing in the Windmill Industry," Working Papers 02-2, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.
    3. Hoel, Michael, 1991. "Global environmental problems: The effects of unilateral actions taken by one country," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 55-70, January.
    4. William D. Nordhaus & Joseph G. Boyer, 1999. "Requiem for Kyoto: An Economic Analysis of the Kyoto Protocol," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Special I), pages 93-130.
    5. Sandler,Todd, 1997. "Global Challenges," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521587495, March.
    6. Jørgen Hansen & Camilla Jensen & Erik Madsen, 2003. "The establishment of the danish windmill industry—Was it worthwhile?," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 139(2), pages 324-347, June.
    7. Urs Steiner Brandt & Gert Tinggaard Svendsen, 2001. "Hot air in Kyoto, cold air in The Hague," Working Papers 22/01, University of Southern Denmark, Department of Sociology, Environmental and Business Economics.
    8. Zhang, ZhongXiang, 2001. "An assessment of the EU proposal for ceilings on the use of Kyoto flexibility mechanisms," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 53-69, April.
    9. Brandt, Urs Steiner & Svendsen, Gert Tinggaard, 2002. "Hot air in Kyoto, cold air in The Hague--the failure of global climate negotiations," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(13), pages 1191-1199, October.
    10. Barrett, Scott, 1997. "The strategy of trade sanctions in international environmental agreements," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 345-361, November.
    11. Grubler, Arnulf & Nakicenovic, Nebojsa & Victor, David G., 1999. "Dynamics of energy technologies and global change," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 247-280, May.
    12. Barrett, Scott, 1998. "Political Economy of the Kyoto Protocol," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(4), pages 20-39, Winter.
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    Cited by:

    1. Wim Naudé, 2011. "Climate Change and Industrial Policy," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(7), pages 1-19, July.

    More about this item


    First mover advantages; Wind mill industry; greenhouse gases; Kyoto Protocol; EU;

    JEL classification:

    • Q28 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods


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