• Tina Pedersen
4. semester, Udviklingsstudier, Kandidat (Kandidatuddannelse)
Climate change has long been a much-discussed issue that effects all countries in the world, with some affected more than other, making areas impossible to habituate either through droughts, floods or rising temperatures. The world has realized the need for actions and established the United Nations Framework Convention to Climate Change in 1992 and adopted the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 with the first commitment period from 2008-2012 and a second period established later, set to cover 2012-2020. However, the Kyoto Protocol only covers the producers of 60 per cent of the greenhouse gasses (GHG) emission since only the developed countries are legally bound to emission reduction targets, with the exception of the US and Canada who did not ratify the Protocol. The two biggest emitters of GHG, China and the US, are thus not legally bound to reduce their emissions. The negotiations of a new treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol were set to provide a new treaty at the Conference in Copenhagen 2009, however, the parties failed to reach an agreement. The parties to the Convention would not be able to reach an agreement until the Paris Conference last year. This paper, therefore, seeks to explain:
Why did the international climate change negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) fail to reach a climate change agreement in the Cop 15 held in Copenhagen in 2009 but succeed in reaching an agreement at the COP 21 held in Paris in 2015?
However, In order to make significant strides towards mitigating climate change, an agreement would have to include China and the US, thus posing the additional question of what role did the United States and China play in the international climate change negotiations?
The paper applies the theories of neo-realism and neo-liberalism to provide an explanation for the discord and cooperation in the climate change negotiations. Neo-realism provides a systemic theory of a political structure governed by a principle of self-help that in the area of managing global issues has caused a persistence concern over relative gains rather than absolute gains. As Kenneth Waltz sees it, the climate change negotiations have fallen victim of "the tyranny of small decision" making it hard for countries to take the "large decision" to significantly reduce GHG emissions. Neo-liberal institutionalism, on the other hand, explains the institutions ability to make cooperation possible in a system of self-help. The institutions provide possibilities to reduce distrust and uncertainty of quality by establishing a greater flow of information and transparency among parties to the agreement. The institutions seek to monitor compliances with the commitments and provide agreements with a credibility that may otherwise be hard to obtain in a system of self-help.
The Copenhagen Conference was full of distrust between the parties and managed only to provide small compromises in the Copenhagen Accord on primarily the issues of mitigation, transparency and financing with the establishment of MRV and two pledges of financial support to the developing countries by the developed countries. China, during the negotiations, to a hard and obstructive stance unwilling to compromise on the differentiation of responsibilities set out in the Kyoto Protocol. Meanwhile, the US had little to offer in return, yet managed to provide a pledge of additional funding contingent on mitigation actions and MRV of the developing countries. The Paris conference, on the other hand, were able to establish an agreement that institutionalized a bottom-up approach of national pledges of mitigation targets along with a top-down review system that would work to secure more ambitious goals in order to reach the goal of the Convention to stay below a 2 degree Celsius increase in the global temperature. The Conference furthermore established a compromise on differentiation reached by China and the US in 2014. In Paris, the US was still seeking to expand responsibilities to the emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil, now in the area of financial funding. While China had shown a willingness to take on more responsibility, yet its alliances G-77/China and BASIC were still seeking to maintain the old differentiation of the Kyoto Protocol.
The failure of the Copenhagen Conference can be explained through the theory of neo-realism where the relative gains of discord were higher than cooperation since both China and the US stood to gain little from agreeing to legally binding commitments. On the other hand, the success of the Conference in Paris can be accredited to the implementation of a more comprehensive transparency framework that will monitor and secures the compliance of all parties with their commitments, thus providing the agreement with a higher credibility. The US has in the climate change negotiations continued to take a weak position as it is constrained by its need for treaty approval by the Congress or Senate. Meanwhile, China has been able to develop greater capabilities and a stronger position in the climate negotiations, where it is able to exert greater influence on the negotiations with its interests being aligned with the overall goal of mitigating climate change.
SpecialiseringsretningChinese Area Studies
Udgivelsesdato31 maj 2016
Antal sider48
ID: 234452542