Advertisement

The United States and the Evolution of International Climate Change Norms

  • Michele M. Betsill
Chapter

Abstract

Since the threat of global climate change emerged on the international political agenda in 1988, states have been engaged in a process of creating new norms to govern their behavior in this issue area.1 This process has been situated in the negotiations of the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. In each case, members of the international community debated about what standards ought to guide their behavior vis-à-vis the climate system. The Framework Convention formalized a norm obliging industrialized states to aim to stabilize their greenhouse gas emissions at 1990 levels by the year 2000. This norm was less stringent than what most industrialized states were doing in practice, and clearly reflects the US. position. The Framework Convention can be viewed as an example of the hegemon imposing its preferred norm on the international community.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Norms are “collective expectations for the proper behavior of actors with a given identity.” Peter J. Katzenstein, “Introduction: Alternative Perspectives on National Security,” in The Culture of National Security: Norms and Identity in World Politics, edited by P. J. Katzenstein (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): 5.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    World Meteorological Organization, Proceedings of the World Conference on the Changing Atmosphere: Implications for Global Security (Geneva: World Meteorological Organization, 1988): 294.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See, for example, Matthew Paterson, Global Warming and Global Politics (London: Routledge, 1996); David G. Victor and Julian E. Salt, “Keeping the Climate Treaty Relevant,” Nature (26 January 1995): 280–282.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    The IPCC has stated that an immediate 60 percent reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions would be necessary to stabilize atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations at current levels. IPCC, Climate Change:The IPCC Scientific Assessment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990): xi.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Martha Finnemore and Kathryn Sikkink, “International Norm Dynamics and Political Change,” International Organization 52 (Autumn 1998): 895–905. Finnemore and Sikkink identify three stages in the “norm life cycle”: (1) norm emergence, whereby a problem is identified and states develop new norms to govern their behavior; (2) norm cascade, whereby norms begin to spread rapidly through the international system; and (3) internalization, whereby norms become taken for granted.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Gary Goertz, Context of International Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    See Michael Akehurst, A Modern Introduction to International Law, 5th ed. (London: Allen and Unwin, 1984);Google Scholar
  8. Anthony Clark Arend, “Toward an Understanding of International Legal Rules,” in International Rules: Approaches from International Law and International Relations edited by R. J. Beck, A. C. Arend, and R. D. Vander Lugt (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996); Goertz, Context in International Relations;Google Scholar
  9. Katzenstein, “Introduction: Alternative Perspectives on National Security,” Friedrich V. Kratochwil, Rules, Norms and Decisions: On the Conditions of Practical and Legal Reasoning in International Relations and Domestic Affairs (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989);Google Scholar
  10. Gregory A. Raymond, “Problems and Prospects in the Study of International Norms,” Mershon International Studies Review, 41(1997): 205–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 9.
    International Energy Agency, Climate Change Policy Initiatives, 1994 Update: Volume I, OECD Countries (Paris: International Energy Agency, 1994).Google Scholar
  12. 11.
    See Richard Price, “Reversing the Gun Sights: Transnational Civil Society Targets and Land Mines,” International Organization 52 (Summer 1998): 635.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 12.
    Akehurst, A Modern Introduction to International Law, 5th ed.; Louis Henkin, How Nations Behave: Law and Foreign Policy, 2nd ed. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1979);Google Scholar
  14. Mark W. Janis, An Introduction to International Law, 2nd ed. (Boston: Little, Brown, 1993);Google Scholar
  15. Phillippe Sands, ed., Greening International Law (New York: The New Press, 1994).Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    On the norm against colonialism, see Robert H. Jackson, “The Weight of Ideas in Decolonization: Normative Change in International Relations,” in J. Goldstein and R. O. Keohane, eds., Ideas and Foreign Policy: Beliefs, Institutions and Political Change (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993): 111–38;Google Scholar
  17. Ethan A. Nadelmann, “Global Prohibition Regimes: The Evolution of Norms in International Society,” International Organization 44 (1990): 479–526. On the norm against the use of nuclear weapons, seeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Richard Price and Nina Tannenwald, “Norms and Deterrence: The Nuclear and Chemical Weapons Taboos,” in The Culture of National Security, edited by P. Katzenstein (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996). On the norm against the use of landmines, see Richard Price, “Reversing the Gunsights.”Google Scholar
  19. 17.
    See Andreas Hasenclever, Peter Mayer, and Volker Rittberger, Theories of International Regimes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997): 23–82;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Robert O. Keohane, After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984): 89–95.Google Scholar
  21. 18.
    On this critique of rationalism, see Andrew Hurrell “International Society and the Study of Regimes: A Reflective Approach,” in International Rules: Approaches from International Law and International Relations, edited by R.J. Beck, A. C. Arend, and R. D. Vander Lugt (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996).Google Scholar
  22. 19.
    Jon Elster, The Cement of Society: A Study of Social Order (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 21.
    Audie Klotz, Norms in International Relations: The Struggle Against Apartheid (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995): 19–22;Google Scholar
  24. Alexander Wendt, “Constructing International Politics,” International Security 20 (1995): 71–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 22.
    Emile Durkheim, The Rules of Sociological Method, edited by Steven Lukes (New York: Free Press, 1982); Finnemore and Sikkink, “International Norm Dynamics and Political Change,” 897;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Paul Kowert and Jeffrey Legro, “Norms, Identity and Their Limits: A Theoretical Reprise,” in The Culture of National Security: Norms and Identity in World Politics, edited by P. Katzenstein, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996).Google Scholar
  27. 23.
    There is some debate about whether it is appropriate to apply the idea of evolution to political science. Here, I use evolution as a loose metaphor for the development of international norms. I assume these are similar processes in that they are cumulative and involve competition and selection. I do not mean to imply that the development of norms reflects “progress” in international relations. It is also important to note that the development of norms involves actors with aims who can communicate with one another and make choices about which norms they will play host to. In contrast, the organisms in which genes evolve have relatively little, if any, choice as to which genes they play host to. On this debate, see Klaus Eder, “Learning and the Evolution of Social Systems: An Epigenetic Perspective,” in Evolutionary Theory in Social Science, edited by M. Schmid and F. M. Wuketits (Dordrecht, Holland: D. Reidel, 1987): 101–25;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. R. Service Elman, “Cultural Evolution,” in The International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (Crowell Collier and Macmillan, 1968); Ann Florini, “The Evolution of International Norms,” International Studies Quarterly (September 1996): 363–89; Michael Schmid, “Collective Action and the Selection of Rules: Some Notes on the Evolutionary Paradigm in Social Theory,” in Schmid and Wuketits, eds., Evolutionary Theory in Social Science. Google Scholar
  29. 24.
    Geoffrey Hodgson, “An Evolutionary Theory of Long-Term Economic Growth,” International Studies Quarterly 40 (1996): 391–410;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. George Modelski, “Is World Politics Evolutionary Learning?” International Organization 44 (1990): 1–24; Schmid, “Collective Action in the Selection of Rules.”CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 25.
    David A. Snow and Robert D. Benford, “Master Frames and Cycles of Protest,” in Frontiers in Social Movement Theory, edited by A. D. Morris and C. M. Mueller (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992): 137.Google Scholar
  32. 26.
    For example, see the Global Climate Change statement delivered during Congressional hearings on the UNFCCC. U.S. House of Representatives, “Role of the U.S. Government in the United Nations Negotiations on Global Warming Climate Change,” Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Energy and Power of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, 3 March 1992.Google Scholar
  33. 27.
    Sheri Berman and Kathleen McNamara, “CES Co-Sponsors Workshop on Ideas, Culture and Political Analysis,” European Studies Newsletter 27 (1998): 2.Google Scholar
  34. 29.
    Gareth Porter and Janet Welsch Brown, International Environmental Politics, 2nd ed., (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1995): 14.Google Scholar
  35. 32.
    Daniel Bodansky, “Prologue to the Climate Change Convention,” in Negotiating Climate Change: The Inside Story of the Rio Convention, edited by I. Mintzer and J. A. Leonard, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994).Google Scholar
  36. 35.
    Quoted in Bureau of National Affairs, “Delegates Adopt Negotiating Guidelines in First Effort Toward Global Climate Convention,” International Environmental Reporter Current Report 14(1991): 97.Google Scholar
  37. 42.
    William K. Stevens, “At Meeting on Global Warming, US Stands Alone,” New York Times, 10 September 1991; “Where Sununu Stands,” New York Times, 10 September 1991. See also Alan D. Hecht and Dennis Tirpak, “Framework Agreement on Climate Change: A Scientific and Policy History,” Climatic Change 29 (1995): 388–89; Yasuko Kawashima, “A Comparative Analysis of the Decision-Making Process of Developed Countries Toward CO2 Emissions Reduction Targets,” 109–10;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. William A. Nitze, “A Failure of Presidential Leadership,” in Negotiating Climate Change: The Inside Story of the Rio Convention, edited by Irving Mintzer and J. Amber Leonard (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994): 189, 193.Google Scholar
  39. 50.
    For example, see Robin Cook, “Everything to Gain,” Our Planet 9 (1997): 9; “Group of Economists Seeks Treaty on Global Warming,” The Wall Street Journal, 13 February 1997: B7;Google Scholar
  40. World Resources Institute, “US Competitiveness is Not at Risk in the Climate Negotiations,” (Washington, DC: World Resources Institute, 1997);Google Scholar
  41. WWF, Policies and Measures to Reduce CO 2 Emissions in the United States: An Analysis of Options for 2005 and 2010 (Boston: Tellus Institute, October 1997).Google Scholar
  42. 51.
    IPCC, Climate Change 1995: The Science of Climate Change, Summary for Policymakers, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996): 10.Google Scholar
  43. 69.
    John W. Meyer, David John Frank, Ann Hironaka, Evan Schofer, and Nancy Brandon Tuma, “The Structuring of a World Environmental Regime, 1870–1990,” International Organization 51(1997): 623;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Paul Wapner, “Politics Beyond the State: Environmental Activism and World Civic Politics,” World Politics 47 (1995): 311–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 70.
    See Earth Negotiations Bulletin, 16 November 1998: 14; Atiq Rahman, “The South is Acting,” Our Planet 9(1997): 23–24.Google Scholar
  46. 71.
    Kawashima, “A Comparative Analysis of the Decision-Making Process of Developed Countries toward CO2 Emissions Reduction Targets,” 96. See also Detlef Sprinz and Tapani Vaahtoranta, “The interest-based explanation of international environmental policy,” International Organization 48 (Winter 1994): 77–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 72.
    White House Climate Change Task Force, “U.S. Domestic Climate Change Program: Executive Summary,” November 1998: 1.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Paul G. Harris 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michele M. Betsill

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations