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International Norms of Responsibility and U.S. Climate Change Policy

  • Paul G. Harris
Chapter

Abstract

Has the United States adopted any of the nascent international norms surrounding climate change? In the previous chapter, Michele Betsill argues that international climate change norms are indeed forcing states—including the United States—to “redefine what it means to be a legitimate member of the international community,” and that the United States has started to address climate change to bolster its international credibility. This chapter continues this theme by suggesting that the United States has, contrary to many interpretations, internalized one of the most important international norms that has become central to the climate change debate: common but differentiated responsibility.1

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Notes

  1. 1.
    For an earlier discussion of these issues, see Paul G. Harris, “Common but Differentiated Responsibility: The Kyoto Protocol and United States Policy,” Environmental Law Journal 7, 1 (1999): 27–48.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    See Energy Information Administration, Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 1996 (Washington, DC: Energy Information Administration, 1997);Google Scholar
  3. Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Review 1996 (Washington, DC: Energy Information Administration, 1997).Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, 10 December 1982, 21 ILM 1262 (1982). This concept dates to the 1950s, and was also integrated into the 1979 Moon Agreement. Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, 18 ILM 1434 (1979). See Frank Biermann, “Common Concern of Humankind’: The Emergence of a New Concept of International Environmental Law,” Archiv des Volkerrechts 34, 4 (December 1996): 426–81.Google Scholar
  5. 14.
    The principle of common but differentiated responsibility was acknowledged by, inter alia, the UN General Assembly (see GA Resolution 44/228 [1989]), and several climate related meetings, including: the Second World Climate Conference, meetings of the Preparatory Committee of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, the Toronto Conference Statement, the Hague Declaration, and the Noordwijk Declaration. See Philippe Sands, “The ‘Greening’ of International Law: Emerging Principles and Rules,” Global Legal Studies Journal 1, 2 (Spring 1994).Google Scholar
  6. 15.
    J. T. Houghton et al., eds., Climate Change 1995: The Science of Climate Change (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).Google Scholar
  7. 16.
    Robert T. Watson, Marufa C. Zinyowera, and Richard H. Moss, eds., Climate Change 1995: Impacts, Adaptations and Mitigation of Climate Change (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996);Google Scholar
  8. World Health Organization, Climate Change and Human Health (Geneva: World Health Organization Office of Global Integrated Environmental Health, 1996);Google Scholar
  9. 17.
    Clive Ponting, A Green History of the World (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991), especially pp. 387–92 and 405–6.Google Scholar
  10. 18.
    Delphine Borione and Jean Ripert, “Exercising Common but Differentiated Responsibility,” in Negotiating Climate Change, edited by Irving M. Mintzer and J. A. Leonard (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994): 83–84.Google Scholar
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    Energy Information Agency, Energy Use and Carbon Emissions: Non-OECD Countries (Washington, DC: Energy Information Agency, December 1994);Google Scholar
  12. International Energy Agency, “IEA Statement on the Energy Dimensions of Climate Change” (Paris: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 1997).Google Scholar
  13. 20.
    World Resources Institute et al., World Resources 1996–97 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996): 315–25.Google Scholar
  14. See also International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook (Paris: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 1995).Google Scholar
  15. 23.
    Paul G. Harris, “Considerations of Equity and International Environmental Institutions,” Environmental Politics 5, 2 (Summer 1996): 274–301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 24.
    On the notions of fairness and equity in the context of climate change and other international environmental issues see, for example, James P. Bruce, Hoesung Lee, and Erik F. Haites, eds., Climate Change 1995: Economic and Social Dimensions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), chapter 3;Google Scholar
  17. Richard Samson Odingo et al., eds., Equity and Social Considerations Related to Climate Change (Nairobi: ICIPE Science Press, 1994);Google Scholar
  18. Paul G. Harris, “Affluence, Poverty, and Ecology: Obligation, International Relations, and Sustainable Development,” Ethics and the Environment 2, 2 (1997): 121–38;Google Scholar
  19. and Paul G. Harris, “Environment, History and International Justice,” Journal of International Studies 40 (July 1997): 1–33.Google Scholar
  20. 32.
    Mark Golden, “Climate Treaty Tough Sell for Clinton at Home and Abroad,” Associated Press-Dow Jones News Service, 14 October 1997.Google Scholar

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© Paul G. Harris 2000

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  • Paul G. Harris

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