The Regime Complex for Climate Change
28 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 25 Jul 2010
Date Written: July 20, 2010
There is no integrated regime governing efforts to limit the extent of climate change. Instead, there is a regime complex: a loosely coupled set of specific regimes. We describe the regime complex for climate change and seek to explain it, using functional, strategic, and organizational arguments. This institutional form is likely to persist; efforts to build a comprehensive regime are unlikely to succeed, but narrower institutions focused on particular aspects of the climate change problem are already thriving. Building on this analysis, we argue that a climate change regime complex, if it meets specified criteria, has advantages over any politically feasible comprehensive regime, particularly with respect to adaptability and flexibility. Adaptability and flexibility are particularly important in a setting, such as climate change policy, in which the most demanding international commitments are interdependent yet governments vary widely in their interest and ability to implement them.
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