The Durban Platform Negotiations: Goals and Options

Harvard Project on Climate Agreements Viewpoint, 2012

12 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2012 Last revised: 17 Jul 2012

See all articles by Daniel Bodansky

Daniel Bodansky

Arizona State University Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Date Written: July 10, 2012


In December 2011, the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted the Durban Platform, which launched a new round of negotiations to develop "a protocol, another legal instrument, or an agreed outcome with legal force," to be effective from 2020. This essay for the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements unpacks the elements of the Durban Platform and analyzes the possible goals of the new round of negotiations. It then examines three possible models of how international law might address climate change: a contractual model, a prescriptive model, and a facilitative model. The essay questions both the contractual and prescriptive models, the contractual model because there does not appear to be a contract zone within which agreement by the major emitters is possible; the prescriptive model on grounds of ineffectiveness. This leaves the facilitative model, which is uncertain to deliver the level of emissions reductions believed necessary to prevent dangerous climate change, but might still be of significant value in slowing the rate of global warming. Until there is agreement among states about which general approach to pursue, the Durban Platform process will continue the pattern of the last decade, in which states are engaged, not in a negotiation of the text of an agreement, but rather a meta-negotiation about what to negotiate.

Keywords: international law, climate change, global warming, kyoto protocol, UN framework convention climate change, UNFCCC, Durban Platform

JEL Classification: K32, K33

Suggested Citation

Bodansky, Daniel, The Durban Platform Negotiations: Goals and Options (July 10, 2012). Harvard Project on Climate Agreements Viewpoint, 2012. Available at SSRN:

Daniel Bodansky (Contact Author)

Arizona State University Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law ( email )

111 E Taylor St
Phoenix, AZ 85004
United States

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