The European Union has played a leading role in pushing for the establishment, ratification, and meaningful implementation of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, although it still has significant efforts to make to achieve its target of an 8 percent cut of greenhouse gas by 2008–2012 relative to the 1990 level. This article explores the political factors behind continued EU leadership in climate change. It argues that a few individual states (including Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, and the UK) played an essential role in establishing the EU's agenda in this domain. However, the decentralized governance structure of the EU has also encouraged a process of mutual reinforcement, whereby individual states, the European Commission, and the European Parliament are competing for leadership.

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