Introduction

Essentially, the climate negotiations can be seen as involving two great conflicts. One is between the United States and almost everybody else (but predominantly the other industrialised countries), over the commitments to be undertaken on limiting emissions. And the other is the perennial North-South conflict. This chapter examines more systematically what lay behind the different states' positions, and looks at the general factors which help explain the groupings of countries which influenced the dynamics of the negotiations and the final form of the Climate Convention.1

As the previous chapter suggested, the two most politically salient parts of the negotiations so far have concerned the commitments of industrialised countries regarding limiting their carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, and questions of financial resources and technology transfer to developing countries. However, differing political factors can be identified which help to explain the struggles over these issues. After outlining the content of the conflicts on these two issues, this chapter describes those factors and what aspects of the outcomes of the negotiations they allow us to explain.

I shall try to illustrate some general analytical points throughout the chapter. One is the importance of domestic politics: if we are to try to explain the developments in the negotiations, to do so without reference to domestic political developments and conditions in various polities would be fruitless. Another is the changing role and importance of international institutions. While these can be seen to have played a crucial role in bringing global warming on to the political agenda, their role declined significantly as the issue moved into a UN one-state-one-vote forum. As the issue progressed from being one of problem identification and definition towards formal negotiation, the states-as-dominant-actors model identified by realists delivers a more (although not wholly) adequate account of the situation. Correspondingly, the importance of international institutions in influencing outcomes declined.

Negotiating Essentials

Negotiating Essentials

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