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Leadership and lesson-drawing in the European Union’s multilevel climate governance system

Jänicke, Martin; Wurzel, Rüdiger K.W.


Martin Jänicke

Professor Rudi Wurzel
Professor of Comparative European Politics and Jean Monnet Chair in European Union Studies.


The important role that climate leaders and leadership play at different levels of the European Union (EU) multilevel governance system is exemplified. Initially, climate leader states set the pace with ambitious policy measures that were adopted largely on an ad hoc basis. Since the mid-1980s, the EU has developed a multilevel climate governance system that has facilitated leadership and lesson-drawing at all governance levels including the local level. The EU has become a global climate policy leader by example although it had been set up as a ‘leaderless Europe’. The resulting ‘leadership without leader’ paradox cannot be sufficiently explained merely by reference to top-level EU climate policies. Local level climate innovations and lesson-drawing have increasingly been encouraged by the EU’s multilevel climate governance system which has become more polycentric. The recognition of economic co-benefits of climate policy measures has helped to further the EU’s climate leadership role.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 2, 2019
Print ISSN 0964-4016
Electronic ISSN 1743-8934
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 28
Issue 1
Pages 22-42
Series Title Special Issue
Series Number 1
Institution Citation Jänicke, M., & Wurzel, R. K. (2019). Leadership and lesson-drawing in the European Union’s multilevel climate governance system. Environmental Politics, 28(1), 22-42.
Keywords European Union; Cities; Villages; Multilevel climate governance; Lesson-drawing; Leaderless
Publisher URL