Question Of Questions

This book tries to go some way to filling these silences. It attempts to do two things. The first is to explain the international politics of global warming, leading up to the First Conference of the Parties of the Framework Convention, which took place in March and April 1995. There are two basic questions involved in such an investigation, corresponding to two distinct processes which have been involved. First, huge scientific uncertainties remained about the timing, extent and likelihood of warming, when no empirical demonstration of a link between observed climatic changes and anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases had been observed. Given this, how and why did global warming become an issue on the international political agenda, which many states took seriously enough on the one hand to announce unilateral mitigating measures, and on the other hand to negotiate a multilateral agreement on the subject? The second question is, how did the processes of cooperation on the issue work, once formal negotiations had started?

The second purpose of the book is to look at strands of IR theory in the light of global warming, in order to see both how they would account for its politics, and whether these accounts are adequate. Such an investigation is needed in order to contribute to an explanation of the politics of global warming, but it is also intended that this will make it possible to say something about IR theory and some of its inadequacies.

Thus the book offers a set of interpretations of global climate politics within the frameworks provided by different strands of IR theory. I will offer an argument that two particular interpretations, those provided by historical materialism, and those by poststructuralist writers focusing on the notion of discourse, both provide convincing explanations. However, there is a clear tension between the two, and this tension and ways in which it could be resolved will be explored in the conclusion.

To a great extent, this argument turns on the questions which the perspectives ask, as much as the answers they give. The framework provided by historical materialism means that it asks more expansive questions, allowing us to cover more of the material of climate politics. Realists and liberal institutionalists restrict us by and large to interstate politics, to patterns of conflict and cooperation between states, to processes of negotiation within anarchy, to the relevance of international institutions. This leads us to questions merely about the content of formal treaties, to the question of which states got their way, whether international institutions mattered in generating these outcomes, and so on. The questions are furthermore positivist in their orientation, i.e. they act to obscure thorny normative issues (although some writers may be explicitly guided by normative concerns).

By contrast, historical materialist frameworks allow us to transcend a domestic-international division which obscures more than it reveals. They also allow normative questions, for example those ofjustice, to be more easily integrated into the analysis, focusing on the 'Who is theory for?' question (Cox, 1986:207). Finally, they allow us to talk about capitalism, which helps us to place the politics of global warming in a context other than the abstracted formal anarchy of realists and liberal institutionalists. This allows us to see how state interests are constituted, and how global warming fits into broader developments within world politics.

In addition, the discourse-theoretic approach developed, for example, by Litfin (1994)—which is closely linked to the constructivist position developed by Wendt (1987) and others—has much to offer. Rather than abstractly assuming some instrumental rationality, as do realists and (most) liberal institutionalists, it suggests that the meaning which states and other actors confer on particular phenomena is crucial to their acting on these issues, and that these meanings are constituted intersubjectively between states rather than by those states separately. It emphasises that, rather than an international structure existing as a given, external to the existence of individual states and their practitioners, global political structures are things which are continually made and remade through the actions of states. This suggests that states have some room for manoeuvre in their dealings with others, but it also suggests (a point which is normatively important) that those international structures can be transformed.

The later chapters in this book develop this argument by examining the explanations of global climate politics which realists, liberals, those focusing on the politics of knowledge, and historical materialists, would in turn offer. The conclusion explores the creative tension between the latter two perspectives, both of which I am sympathetic towards. Before that, the book offers an historical account of climate politics to date. The first of these chapters deals with the history of climate science and international meteorological cooperation, and the emergence of global warming as a political issue. The second deals with the formal interstate negotiations leading up to the signing of the Framework Convention in 1992, and from then on to the first Conference of the Parties in 1995. The third discusses in detail some of the major political faultlines in the negotiations, and debates which dominated them.

This way of organising the chapters should not be taken to imply that history can be free of theory, but it is as much for convenience as anything. Some of the arguments in later chapters will be prefigured in these historical chapters. And the selection of material is designed so that each theoretical perspective can be adequately explored. For example, the interstate formal negotiations enable realism and liberal institutionalism to be explored. But the material in Chapter 2 is also necessary to explore adequately the importance of institutions in climate politics, for example with the history of international meteorological cooperation. Chapter 2 also enables a discussion of the politics of science, and the importance of science in agenda-setting. And Chapter 4 illustrates many of the themes which are necessary to explore some of the ideas bought up by historical materialism. So these historical chapters should give some sense of the plausibility of different accounts of climate politics.

Negotiating Essentials

Negotiating Essentials

Always wanted to get a better deal but didn't have the needed negotiation skills? Here are some of the best negotiation theories. The ability to negotiate is a skill which everyone should have. With the ability to negotiate you can take charge of your life, your finances and your destiny. If you feel that others are simply born with the skill to negotiate, you should know that everyone can learn this wonderful skill.

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