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“The EU’s post-Copenhagen strategy should be just to have a strategy, any strategy,” quips one Brussels think-tank wag during an interview.

The rough hip-check Europe received in the Danish capital in December, sidelining the bloc during the eleventh-hour huddle between major powers that produced the Copenhagen Accord, has produced a wave of despondency and cynicism amongst Brussels politicians, green lobbyists, and analysts – and carbon traders across the continent to boot. They’re all having a crack at how poorly the EU played its hand during climate negotiations.

For the last three years, if it hasn’t been the institutional reform of the Lisbon Treaty, it’s been the bloc’s obsession with climate change that has dominated the EU agenda. Even if the EU is well off the at least 40 percent cut in emissions that science demands if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change, it remains the case that as a result of its 2008 climate and energy package, Europe remains the most advanced rich-country power on the planet in terms of its binding CO2 reduction commitment.

With its climate boy-scout badge afixed to its sleeve, Brussels headed off to Camp Copenhagen expecting at least to see its self-proclaimed leadership reflected in winning something along the lines of a broad commitment from other powers to at least a 20-percent cut in carbon emissions below 1990 levels by 2020.

But in the end, the EU ended up the goody-two-shoes pupil who’s top of the class, but yet, when he invites all the other kids over for a party, glumly watches as they end up playing among each other instead of with him.

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