Abstract: Environmental degradation is one of the most significant challenges faced by humanity, yet current global politics struggle to implement collective solutions. Previous research has suggested that the EU has a leadership role in the international climate change regime complex, which refer to a set of overlapping institutions that address different aspects of climate governance. Moreover, within these regime complexes, non-state actors have been found to have an active role. Building on the literature on regime complexes and non-state actors, we study the specific role of European non-state actors in furthering the EU’s agenda in the climate change regime complex. More precisely, we focus on European youth organizations. Indeed, youth have recently embraced the global climate agenda very actively while receiving limited attention from scholars. This article is based on the analysis of a database of youth organizations active in several institutions of the climate change regime complex, interviews with European officials and European youth actors, and documentary analysis. The analysis shows that EU interactions with European youth have been slow, while the need for coordination between the two is clear. On an analytical level, we contribute to the academic debate on how governmental entities such as the EU could shape international regime complexes with the support of non-state actors.
Keywords: climate change; climate change regime complex; EU leadership; international environmental negotiations; youth