Friendly neighbor or Trojan Horse? Assessing the interaction of soft law initiatives and the UN climate regime
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Current global climate governance is characterized by increasing institutional proliferation. Within the last 5 years several non-legally binding initiatives have emerged, including (i) the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate and various other public–private partnerships working on the policy implementation level and (ii) the Group of Eight Gleneagles Dialogue on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development, and Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change as high-level political processes. As a first step toward analyzing the relationship between these parallel initiatives and the UN climate regime, this article looks at the negotiations of four UN-hosted climate meetings in 2007–2008, providing an examination of the interaction of ‘soft law’ climate initiatives and the ‘hard law’ UNFCCC/Kyoto Protocol process. The methodology of the study is based on participatory observations in the negotiations and document analysis of country and stakeholder positions. The analysis shows that the current multitude of processes in global climate governance entails potential institutional interaction. Deliberations of the key actors give some support to the claims of non-UN soft law being used to exert influence on the negotiations on a future climate regime within the UN context.
KeywordsClimate change UNFCCC Asia–Pacific Partnership Major economies meeting G8 Institutional interaction Soft law Hard law
Alliance of Small Island States
Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation
Asia–Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate
Ad hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention
Ad hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (2005–2007)
Ad hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (2008–present)
Bali Action Plan
Business and industry group
Climate Action Network
Common but differentiated responsibilities
Clean development mechanism
Climate investment funds
Conference of parties (to the UNFCCC)
Conference of parties serving as the meeting of parties (to the Kyoto Protocol)
Group of 77 and China
Group of eight, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States
- G8 dialogue
Group of eight Gleneagles Dialogue on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development
International Chamber of Commerce
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Least developed countries
Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change
Measurable, reportable and verifiable
Quantified emissions limitation and reduction objective
Subsidiary body of implementation
Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice
United Nations General Assembly
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
Many thanks are due to Christian Holtz, Patrick Finnegan, Kaisa Kosonen, Tirthankar Mandal, and Steve Sawyer for their support and informal advice in the UNFCCC corridors. I would also like to thank the referees, and especially the editors, Harro van Asselt and Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen, for their guidance.
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