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The EU has been very active in making its voice heard on problem definition, agenda setting, goal setting and promoting policy solutions regarding the climate threat. [6] It has tried to set the international standards against which others have to react. [7] Sustainable development, the precautionary principle, social equity and burden sharing can be considered to constitute the normative core of the EU’s environmental policy. Sustainable development implies meeting present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.

The EU played a vital role in ‘saving’ the Kyoto Protocol after the Bush administration withdrawal, and was instrumental during its entry into force. [9] The 2003 EU Emissions Trading Directive forms the centrepiece of the EU’s climate policy. [10] In 2005 the EU Emission Trading System was launched. This had an international impact as the system has been studied and emission trading initiatives are being set up in the US and other countries. [11] The EU setting up the world’s first large-scale transnational emissions trading scheme has been critical to the effective implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. By elaborating its own scheme, the EU may well become the international standard-setter.

At its 2007 spring summit the EU launched its ’20-20-20 by 2020′-plan and became the first party to the UNFCCC to announce concrete greenhouse gas emission reductions beyond the expiration of the Kyoto commitments in 2012. In December 2008, the European Parliament approved the EU’s climate change package.