The Paris Agreement On Climate Change Behind Closed Doors

Two variables determine the predominance in the context of climate change: (1) a country`s share of global greenhouse gas emissions and its potential to achieve the common good through reduction, and (2) its economic size and corresponding financial capacity to reduce and contribute to international climate finance. In 1997, the United States was the world`s largest emitter of greenhouse gases (23%; PBL 2016) and accounted for by far the largest share of global GDP (28%; World Bank 2017b). China overtook the United States as the largest annual emitter in 2006 (PBL 2007), but the cumulative emissions of the United States remain the largest in the world. In 2015, the United States was still the world`s largest economy with 25% of GDP ($18 billion, World Bank in 2017b), while China reached 15% ($11 billion, World Bank in 2017a). Thus, climate change is a case of “hegemonic cooperation after hegemonic decline” (Snidal Reference Snidal 1985, No. 613), which highlights the potential for collective action in changes in the distribution of power at the global level. The following analysis examines how the K-Group constellations within the UNFCCC have evolved over time and how these changes have impacted the outcome of the negotiations. From a constructive point of view, the Copenhagen Summit failed because the principled requirements of developing countries for climate leadership were not met. The draft Copenhagen Accord offset the commitments of all countries to contribute to the global common good, contradicting long-standing normative expectations that industrialized countries are leading the fight against climate change. In addition, it did not contain binding obligations for developed countries to reduce emissions or provide climate finance.

In Article 7(1), the Parties agreed to `set the overall adaptation target by improving adaptive capacity, building resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change, in order to contribute to sustainable development and ensure an appropriate response to adaptation in relation to the temperature target referred to in Article 2`. The United States has always been an important but unpredictable negotiator (Depledge Reference Depledge 2005). Periods of cautious engagement (Bush Sr.) or even withdrawal (Bush Jr., Trump) have been interrupted by leadership efforts (Clinton, Obama). Scientists provided the third (Sunstein Reference Sunstein 2007), the second (Bang, Tjernshaugen and Andresen Reference Bang, Tjernshaugen and Andresen2005) and the first image (Lisowski Reference Lisowski2002) to explain this growth and weight loss of the United States…