Common but Differentiated Responsibility in International Climate Negotiations: The EU and Its Contesters

  • Franziska PetriEmail author
  • Katja Biedenkopf
Part of the Norm Research in International Relations book series (NOREINRE)


In the negotiations of a follow-up agreement to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) Kyoto Protocol, the European Union (EU) was a vocal proponent of revisiting the ways in which the organizing principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR) was enshrined. The chapter analyzes the ways in which the EU promoted its distinct interpretation of CBDR and how other Parties to the UNFCCC contested the EU’s interpretation during the four-year climate negotiations that culminated in the adoption of the 2015 Paris Agreement. We performed a qualitative content analysis of the Earth Negotiations Bulletins (ENB) on the climate negotiation meetings between 2011 and 2015, thereby identifying not only the main contesters of the EU’s norm understanding but also the main themes of contestation over time. The analysis revealed that the EU pursued a firm, yet compromise-building approach to promote its own (re)interpretation of CBDR. Faced with hard contestation by developing countries, the EU engaged in a less hardline discourse than some of the other developed countries. This bridge-building positioning positively affected the EU’s perceived legitimacy in the global effort to combat climate change.



The research benefitted from funding from the University of Leuven Special Research Fund: C1 Project CONNECTIVITY


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Leuven International and European Studies, Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, KU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.Leuven International and European Studies, KU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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