The Drafting of the Future International Climate Regime: From the Copenhagen Accord to the Cancún Agreements

  • Sandrine Maljean-DuboisEmail author
  • Vanessa Richard
Part of the Integrated Science & Technology Program book series (ISTP, volume 2)


Discussed at the international level since the 1980s, climate change is from now on at the top of the international political and diplomatic agenda. The urgency to act has been shown over the last years in many aspects. Climate change policies fit into the scheme of what political scientists call “multilevel governance,” which emphasizes the role of international negotiations but also the multiplicity of public and private stakeholders—NGOs, businesses, unions—either with a global, regional, domestic, or local basis, and the diversity of on-going processes at different levels from global to local and from local to global. Because stakes are global, the international climate change regime nevertheless plays a pivotal and decisive role. The international climate change regime is, however, shaped slowly and step by step. The Kyoto Protocol (1997) has 193 parties but the United States, the primary GHG emitter in 1997 and second nowadays, did not ratify it. Major developing emitters are not bound by any GHG emissions reduction commitment under the Protocol. The first commitment period will expire at the end of 2012. For effectiveness reasons, the “post-2012” system must include the United States and major developing emitters, and drastically reinforce the reduction targets. One cannot help but notice that the post-2012 regime is still in the process of, and far from, being drafted. The adoption of the Copenhagen Accord (2009) did not stop the negotiation process, which is still going on. The Cancún conference (2010), although much less the focus of media attention, led to the adoption of a “Copenhagen Accord-Plus,” revived a process that had almost come to a standstill, and made the content of the Copenhagen Accord integrate the heart of the UNFCCC. These evolutions give rise to many issues concerning the level of ambition, the nature and content of differentiation between parties, and the legal architecture of the whole regime.


Climate change International law Kyoto Protocol NAMAs Implementation Differentiation International regime UNFCCC Common but differentiated responsibilities IPCC 

List of Acronyms


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


Brazil, India, China, South Africa


Common but differentiated responsibilities


Clean development mechanism


Conference of the Parties


Conference of the Parties to the Convention serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol


European Union


Greenhouse gases


Gross National Product


International Court of Justice


International Law Commission


Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change


Kyoto Protocol


Meeting of the Parties


Measurement, reporting, and verification


Nationally appropriate mitigation actions


Nongovernmental organization


Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development


Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation


Subsidiary Body on Implementation


United Nations Development Programme


United Nations Environment Programme


United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change


United States dollar


World Meteorological Organization


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aix-Marseille University/CNRS, CERIC (UMR 7318), Espace René CassinAix-en-Provence, Cedex 1France

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