Introduction The European Parliament (EP) has historically had limited scope to shape the EU’s external climate change policy as the lead has traditionally been taken by the Commission and Council. The Parliament has a circumscribed de jure role in international environmental politics: under Article 218 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union it has a right to be consulted by the Council and in some circumstances may offer its formal consent to international agreements to which the EU is party. But, while the Commission and Council are obliged to keep the EP informed about the conduct of negotiations, the Parliament has limited ability to shape international negotiations. Consequently, the EP has limited external policy-making power, such that while the EP has sent delegations to international events such as the regular Conference of Parties (COP) meetings on climate change and issued reports and resolutions for the attention of the other institutions, its policy impact has been limited. This fact is reflected in the literature on the EU and climate change where the EP is barely mentioned and then only in passing (e.g. Schreurs and Tiberghien 2007; Oberthür and Roche-Kelly 2008; Wettestad et al. 2012; see Burns and Carter 2011 and Biedenkopf 2015 for notable exceptions). Thus, while the EP is keen to present itself as a leader within EU environmental politics more generally, it has struggled to extend that leadership to the field of climate change. The main way in which it has been able to shape the climate agenda has been through its internal powers as a co-legislator, which have enabled it to amend policies brought forward by the Commission to give effect to the EU’s wider external climate ambitions. Here the Parliament is constrained by the need to achieve internal cohesion as well as keep the Council on side. The EP has sought to exercise cognitive and entrepreneurial leadership but its approach has typically been symbolic (Wurzel and Connelly 2011): it tries to shape policy through its debates and non-legislative resolutions, which allow it to air ideas but do little to alter the substance of policy or to shape the structure of incentives faced by the key policy actors. Attempts by the Parliament to use its legislative powers to move beyond symbolic leadership have been
constrained. Below, first we outline the EP’s role as an environmental actor, before evaluating its attempts to exercise leadership over time, and then assessing its approach to the green economy.