Legitimacy in an Era of Fragmentation: The Case of Global Climate Governance
19 Pages Posted: 15 Jan 2015
Date Written: August 1, 2013
Studies grounded in regime theory have examined the effectiveness of so-called ‘minilateral’ climate change forums that have emerged outside of the UN climate process. However, there are neither detailed studies of the legitimacy of these forums nor of the impacts of their legitimacy on effectiveness and governance potential. Adopting the lens of legitimacy, we analyze the reasons for the formation of minilateral climate forums and their recent role in global climate governance. In particular, we use Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen and Vihma’s analytical framework for international institutions to examine three minilateral climate forums: (i) the Asia-Pacific Partnership; (ii) the Major Economies Meetings; and (iii) the G8 climate process. These forums are all found to have significant deficits in their source-based, process-based and outcome-based legitimacy, particularly when compared to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. If assessed purely on grounds of effectiveness, the minilateral forums might be easily dismissed as peripheral to the UN climate process. However, they have played an important role by providing a site for powerful countries to shape the assumptions and expectations of global climate governance. We therefore argue that the observed institutional fragmentation allows key states to use minilateral forums as sites to shape the architecture of global climate governance.
Keywords: legitimacy, UNFCCC, climate change, fragmentation
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