The United States and the Evolution of International Climate Change Norms

  • Michele M. Betsill


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.


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© Paul G. Harris 2000

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  • Michele M. Betsill

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