From Bali to Copenhagen: Towards a Shared Vision for a Post-2012 Climate Regime?
25 Maryland Journal of International Law 86-108, 2010
23 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2012
Date Written: 2010
Much attention in the climate negotiations has been focused on the back-and-forth between major emitters, such as China, India, the European Union and the United States. The argument sketched out in this brief article is that the negotiations are not just about who cuts or pays how much and who drives the hardest bargain. They are also about principle. ‖ In other words, agreement on the principles that frame the climate regime is key to its evolution. It is crucial that parties arrive at both a shared understanding of the regime‘s framing principle, common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR), and a post-2012 agreement that is consonant with that understanding. It is equally critical to agree on the meaning of the stated objective of the climate regime, namely to avert dangerous climate change.
Both the regime‘s objective and CBDR are enshrined in the Climate Convention, but the treaty left the underlying scientific and normative controversies unresolved. The efforts to develop a “shared vision for long-term cooperative action, ”‖15 launched at a meeting of the parties in Bali in 2007, ran into various stumbling blocks in Copenhagen. Nevertheless, these continued efforts provide an opportunity to explore both how the objective and CBDR have shaped states’ positions and how they have sought to clarify and shift the meaning of these norms.
I begin with an overview of the CBDR principle as it has evolved in the regime and develop the argument that CBDR, in turn, has been the climate regime‘s anchor principle, shaping its evolution and accounting at least in part for its resilience. I then evaluate the outcome of the Copenhagen negotiations in light of the regime objective and the CBDR principle.
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