But after years of taking the lead in talks on a global climate pact, and making tough policy and investment choices to lessen fossil fuel reliance at home, the bloc’s resolve now seems to be flagging, analysts say.
Europe is responsible for about 10% of global emissions.
As the world’s nations meet in Bonn to negotiate a rulebook for executing the climate rescue Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015 to limit emissions from burning oil, coal, and gas, here is a look at Europe’s role.
Having been at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution that sparked the large-scale carbon dioxide pollution of Earth’s atmosphere now blamed for global warming, Europe took the lead hundreds of years later in shifting to cleaner energy generated by sources such as the sun, waves and wind.
It was instrumental in passing, and keeping alive, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement’s predecessor, despite opposition from the United States and other developed countries.
Europe also created the first, still the biggest, carbon market in a bid to incentivise companies to pollute less.
The Emissions Trading System limits emissions and allows companies to trade in allowances not used.
Then what happened?