Negotiating Climate Change

How can developing countries compensate for their limited power resources by deploying successful strategies in the context of climate change compensation negotiations?

Project Summary

The project investigated the power resources and the choice of bargaining strategies by member states in the current United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations leading to the Post-Kyoto agreement in Copenhagen. A systematic collection of negotiation positions and interviews on the choice of negotiation strategies with negotiation observers has shed light on questions whether external power resources such as economic size can be compensated by the use of strategies.

The determining factors explaining the choice of positions and strategies have then been investigated in a second step. The analysis contributed to ongoing research on power resources and strategies in international institutions. Given the strong salience of climate change for many developing countries, the research project allowed to derive the determinants of successful negotiation strategies for these countries. While they are traditionally looked at as weaker players given that their power resources are limited, climate change negotiations provide evidence for a number of exceptions to this rule.

Academic Output

Working Paper

Climate Change Negotiations, Negotiation Positions and Domestic Structures

International negotiation analyses, also in the current climate change negotiations, often take positions of the involved governments as given. Although it is widely recognized that states do not behave as billiard balls in the international system, the determinants of negotiation positions are not yet clear. Whereas political-economic studies underline economic interests of a state which determine its negotiation preference, pluralist scholars would suggest societal actors to explain the negotiation behavior, in particular interest groups or the domestic audience. Apart from the economic and domestic interests of a state – determined by its economic situation and its domestic interest groups – the partisan preferences of governments might be useful in the explanation of a particular negotiation position (Hibbs, 1977). The influence of these factors might also be dependent on institutional factors such as the degree of democratization. We will investigate this question with a novel dataset on the current UNFCCC climate change negotiations in which data on the preferences of all participating governments were collected with the help of expert interviews with negotiation participants and heads of delegations.  Moreover, information on the differing influence of key domestic players, also gathered in the interviews, will be used in multivariate data analyses to determine which players and factors are key to determining negotiation positions of states in climate change negotiations.

Working Paper

Path Dependence of Negotiation Structures in International Organizations: The Impact of Annex I Membership on Discussions within the UNFCCC

International organizations sometimes institutionalize country groupings by specifying differentiated rules and commitments that may, in turn, generate new negotiation dynamics. Drawing on psychological and incentive-based arguments, we develop a ―constructed peer group‖ hypothesis suggesting that by creating these groups those organizations may actually construct new lines of confrontation over and above the substance-based disagreements existing between countries in the first place. This generates a particular type of path dependence rendering broad-based international agreements more difficult in the future. We analyze this question at the example of the UNFCCC‘s increasingly politicized split between Annex I and non-Annex I countries. Using a self-coded dataset of country statements during the negotiation rounds between December 2007 and December 2009 we assess whether Annex I membership influences a country‘s stance towards other countries‘ arguments. To disentangle the effect of group construction from the effect of various background characteristics that may drive countries‘ preferences and, simultaneously, the affiliation to Annex I, we complement our regression analysis with quasi-experimental methods drawn from the treatment evaluation literature. We find that, over and above the ex ante differences in preferences, the split between Annex I and non-Annex I countries has indeed influenced negotiation behavior and thereby amplified the existing divide between developing and industrialized countries.

Working Paper

Preference Attainment: Why are some Countries more Successful in Negotiating the Earth’s Climate?

The process of negotiating climate change is, as any bargaining process according to realism as well as liberalism, a power game between the parties involved. Whether states are concerned with absolute gains or care more about relative gains is still widely debated. I contribute to this discussion by analyzing the negotiation outcome of Cancun empirically. Furthermore, I explore which variables actually determine bargaining success. Are external power sources such as economic strength key for countries to achieve their negotiation goals, or are internal power sources such as negotiation skills equally important? And to what extent does the choice of hard vs. soft bargaining strategies matter for accomplishing these goals? Moreover, I examine whether variables intrinsically tied to countries, such as vulnerability to climate change or the fraction of GDP from fossil fuel sales, have an effect on negotiation success. These questions are answered using a novel dataset on the current climate change negotiations for which data on success, positions, and strategies of participating parties were collected. The results indicate that external power (measured by total GDP) and vulnerability to climate change are the most important determinants of success.

Working Paper

Bargaining Resources and Strategies in Climate Change Negotiations

Governments dispose of two instruments – resources and activities – to increase their impact in international negotiations. Apart from exogenous negotiation resources such as economic weight, states try to increase their endogenous resources by staffing their diplomatic delegations, by including various representatives of NGOs, research or the business community or by choosing experienced delegation leaders. Regarding their behaviour, governments show different levels of activity in the negotiations by intervening during the negotiations, by organising side events and by opting for different sorts of bargaining strategies, e.g. value-claiming versus value-creating or hard versus soft bargaining. This paper first discusses the resources different governments dispose of, and demonstrates that they try to compensate a lack of bargaining resources with their negotiation behaviour. Second, more light is shed on the specific determinants of hard or soft bargaining tactics. Drawing from the negotiation theoretic literature on the use of strategies and an original dataset of interview data on the use of bargaining strategies of 58 delegations in the UNFCCC negotiations, we find that economic power and pressure from domestic stakeholders – in particular in democracies – are most helpful to explain the choice of bargaining strategies.

Working Paper

India in the international climate negotiations: From traditional nay-sayer to dynamic broker

As opposed to these earlier studies, our primary approach is a comparative one. First, we try to compare India’s role in global climate policy with its role in other fields of global negotiations, notably with the objective to determine whether we can observe the change in international negotiation strategies that remains disputed in other policy areas. In a way, we thereby provide a new case study for the propositions regarding the shift of negotiation strategies advanced in Narlikar (2006). Second, we compare India’s strategies with those used by other countries in international climate policy. In this context, we make use of a novel, hand-coded dataset we compiled on the basis of interviews with negotiators, official country submissions, and daily summaries of sessions of the negotiations of the process under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) published in the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB). With respect to official submissions and ENB, our information covers all negotiation rounds from Bali (December 2007) to Copenhagen (December 2009) (for further details, see Annex 1 in Weiler 2011, and Castro, Hörnlein and Michaelowa 2011).

Working Paper

AOSIS in the UNFCCC negotiations: From unity to fragmentation?

Small island states were able to obtain some remarkable achievements in the climate change negotiations by building a cohesive coalition, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). Yet, this cohesiveness – a key strength of the Alliance – has come under stress, we submit, by a growing fragmentation of the UNFCCC regime. We contend that the multiplication of issues on the climate agenda and the increasing number of negotiation groups make it more difficult for AOSIS to speak with one voice. In this paper, we therefore compare the activities and positions of AOSIS as a group, and of individual AOSIS members, over three distinct periods in the climate change regime: its early phase from 1995 to 2000; an implementation phase from 2001 to 2005; and the more recent period from 2006 to 2011. We then look in more detail at two issue areas – mitigation and adaptation as well as Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) and Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). Our analysis indicates that fragmentation has negatively affected the Alliance. We find that submissions as a coalition have declined in relative terms, and differences in single issue areas have become more pronounced.

Working Paper

Continuity and Change in Russia’s Climate Negotiations Position and Strategy

This paper examines the continuity and change of Russia’s position in international climate negotiations. We argue that the key to understanding Russia’s recent shift towards a more positive rhetoric and constructive role in climate negotiations are the changes in domestic elite and bureaucratic politics. These changes reflect greater recognition of vulnerabilities to climate change, expected economic benefits for influential actors from carbon markets and offsets, and a positive linkage between maintaining low carbon emissions and advancing energy systems modernization and efficiency. The traditional volatility and conditionality of the Russian position also persists, however. Climate change continues to be an issue of limited public salience and the Russian government remains concerned primarily with advancing unconstrained economic growth. The paper shows that the potential positive role of Russia in future cooperation is highly contingent on the broader course of negotiations and in particular on the positions of the US, China, and the Umbrella Group. From a theoretical perspective, the analysis lends support to negotiations theories that emphasized the two-level interplay between international and domestic politics in shaping countries’ positions, and the relevance of endogenous resources and contingent strategizing for advancing preferred outcomes.

Executive Summary

The project “Negotiating Climate Change” analysed the actors, their resources, negotiation strategies and success in the international negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, with focus on, (i), the determinants of successful negotiation, and (ii), the determinants of the choice of any particular negotiation strategy and negotiation position by these negotiators. Aiming to find both generalizable and in-depth results, the project used a unique combination of quantitative large-N statistical analyses and qualitative case studies, and relied on an intensive data collection effort. The project results confirm some of our expectations and leave room to explore some others. While we could confirm the role of external power resources in achieving success, the role of internal power resources was found to be significant in the case studies, but not in the statistical analysis. Salience – in terms of vulnerability to climate change – was found to be relevant for achieving success, but the salience of specific negotiation topics for each country did not seem to matter. The statistical analysis did not find any significant effect of the use of bargaining strategies on negotiation success, but the case studies on India and the small island states provide evidence that changing bargaining strategies lead to changes in the stance of countries in the negotiations, at least in terms of how much they contribute to the discussions and how seriously they are taken by their peers. In terms of choice of bargaining strategies, we could confirm our hypothesis that more powerful countries tend to choose harder strategies, and we found new evidence that perceived vulnerability to climate change, democratic level of a state, and the experience of the delegation leader make parties more likely to use hard negotiation strategies. For the choice of positions, the statistical analysis showed that neither domestic interest groups nor the political orientation of the countries appears to matter, but the case studies found a prominent role of the domestic level on changes in strategies and positions both for India and Russia.

Research Team

Katharina Michaelowa
Coordinator
University of Zurich
Stefanie Bailer
Co-Coordinator
University of Zurich

Axel Michaelowa
Co-Coordinator
University of Zurich

Paula Castro
Principal Member
University of Zurich

Liliana Andonova
Associated Member
Graduate Institute Geneva

Christoph Bals
Associated Member
Germanwatch

Status

completed

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