It may seem strange, but the EU sees itself as a soldier of the common good. Why is a group of countries whose share in worldwide CO2 emissions is only 12% – and set to decline fast – aspiring to global leadership on the issue, despite US inaction and emerging-market countries’ reluctance to commit to binding emission-reduction targets?
In part, the EU’s stance reflects the preferences of European public opinion. In part, it arises from internal politics: to press ahead with its agenda enables the EU to strengthen its hand vis-à-vis the member states. In part, there is the hope that by moving fast, Europe will acquire a comparative advantage in low-carbon technologies.
Determinism in history has always been defeated by the unpredictable forces of human will, and, in this case, by the West’s extraordinary capacity for renewal, even after cataclysmic defeats. True, the West is no longer alone in dictating the global agenda, and its values are bound to be increasingly challenged by emerging powers, but its decline is not a linear, irreversible process.
In a building that houses what will one day be a memorial museum, one can buy a DVD entitled “9/12: from chaos to community”. Ground Zero is the architectural and human proof that, despite the US’s current economic woes, it would be premature, if not dangerous, to write the country off as a declining power. The US has the moral and intellectual resources that it needs in order to rebound
China has chosen a high-risk path – ignoring human rights and violating UN sanctions – to secure the energy and other resources needed to sustain its economy’s rapid growth. It is a choice that neither befits one of the permanent members of the Security Council, nor demonstrates China’s readiness to be a responsible stakeholder in the international community.