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Friendly neighbor or Trojan Horse? Assessing the interaction of soft law initiatives and the UN climate regime

  • Antto Vihma
Original Paper

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Climate change UNFCCC Asia–Pacific Partnership Major economies meeting G8 Institutional interaction Soft law Hard law 

Abbreviations

AOSIS

Alliance of Small Island States

APEC

Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation

APP

Asia–Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate

AWG-LCA

Ad hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention

AWG

Ad hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (2005–2007)

AWG-KP

Ad hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (2008–present)

BAP

Bali Action Plan

BINGO

Business and industry group

CAN

Climate Action Network

CBDR

Common but differentiated responsibilities

CDM

Clean development mechanism

CIF

Climate investment funds

COP

Conference of parties (to the UNFCCC)

COP/MOP

Conference of parties serving as the meeting of parties (to the Kyoto Protocol)

G77

Group of 77 and China

G8

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

GHG

Greenhouse gases

ICC

International Chamber of Commerce

IPCC

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

KP

Kyoto Protocol

LDCs

Least developed countries

MEM

Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change

MRV

Measurable, reportable and verifiable

NGO

Non-governmental organization

QELRO

Quantified emissions limitation and reduction objective

SBI

Subsidiary body of implementation

SBSTA

Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice

UN

United Nations

UNGA

United Nations General Assembly

UNFCCC

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

Notes

Acknowledgments

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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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Finland Futures Research CentreTurku School of EconomicsHelsinkiFinland

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