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A Political Economy of Positions in Climate Change Negotiations: Economic, Structural, Domestic, and Strategic Explanations

Bailer, Stefanie, Weiler, Florian (2015) A Political Economy of Positions in Climate Change Negotiations: Economic, Structural, Domestic, and Strategic Explanations. Review of International Organizations, 10 (1). pp. 43-66. ISSN 1559-7431. E-ISSN 1559-744X. (doi:10.1007/s11558-014-9198-0) (KAR id:54943)

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After the disappointing outcome of the Copenhagen climate summit, it still remains to be explained why the participating states chose irreconcilable negotiation positions that reflected very diverse domestic interests in spite of a publicly displayed wish for cooperation. While environmental studies have intensely investigated national climate policies and their determinants over the last few decades, little attention has been paid to the bargaining positions the same governments assume in climate negotiations. We argue that their bargaining positions reflect structural, economic, and domestic factors, but less so strategic factors. A country’s vulnerability to climate change, its power and its democratic status are among the best predictors of its choice of negotiation position; its international interconnectedness, on the other hand, does not seem to have an influence. By comparing two negotiation issues – reducing emissions and financing climate mitigation – we can show that democracies choose rather different negotiation positions. When it comes to compensation mechanisms, democracies do not commit to substantial emission reduction targets due to pressure from industry at home. They are, however, more prepared than other states to pay for projects that help to reduce emissions. By understanding the choice of negotiation positions we can thus explain why the more or less cooperative bargaining positions adopted by states led to a breakdown of the Copenhagen negotiations. We investigated this question using a novel dataset on the UNFCCC negotiations, in which the positions of all participating governments were collected by hand-coding protocols from the negotiations as well as expert interviews with negotiators.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1007/s11558-014-9198-0
Uncontrolled keywords: Negotiation – Cooperation – Climate change – UNFCCC – United Nations – State preferences – Bargaining positions
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Florian Weiler
Date Deposited: 13 Apr 2016 12:01 UTC
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2024 10:23 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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Weiler, Florian.

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