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Technology obscuring equity: historical responsibility in UNFCCC negotiations
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Centre for Climate Science and Policy Research . Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Department of Water and Environmental Studies. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1912-5538
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Centre for Climate Science and Policy Research . Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Department of Water and Environmental Studies. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2008 (English)In: Climate Policy, ISSN 1469-3062, E-ISSN 1752-7457, Vol. 8, no 4, 339-354 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

According to the concept of historical responsibility, the commitments of individual countries to take action on climate change are distributed based on the relative effects of their past emissions as manifested in present climate change. Brazil presented a comprehensive version of the concept to pre-Kyoto negotiations in 1997. The ‘Brazilian proposal’ originally combined several justice principles; however, following referral to the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice, discussion soon became confined to technical calculations. This case illustrates how disparities in knowledge production and framing can influence the inclusiveness of negotiations. Southern participation in the policy process was restrained due to lack of scientific expertise on the part of Southern countries and due to the non-inclusive biophysical discourse traditionally preferred by Northern policy-makers. The historical responsibility issue became stranded on problems of how to correctly represent physical nature in climate models. This marginalized the original intention that equity should be the guiding principle of the North–South interaction, arguably undercutting a potential angle of approach to advance the climate change negotiations. The article concludes that in the interest of facilitating the North–South dialogue in climate change negotiations, any framing of historical responsibility that excludes equity needs to be redefined.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 8, no 4, 339-354 p.
Keyword [en]
Brazilian proposal, burden sharing, climate change, discourse, equity, historical responsibility, North–South
National Category
Natural Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-14986DOI: 10.3763/cpol.2007.0438OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-14986DiVA: diva2:37505
Note
Original publication: Mathias Friman and Björn-ola Linnér, Technology obscuring equity: historical responsibility in UNFCCC negotiations, 2008, Climate Policy, (8), 339-354.http://dx.doi.org/10.3763/cpol.2007.0438. Copyright: Earthscan, http://www.earthscanjournals.com/Available from: 2008-10-06 Created: 2008-10-06 Last updated: 2017-12-11Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Historical responsibility: Assessing the past in international climate negotiations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Historical responsibility: Assessing the past in international climate negotiations
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Assessments of the past are essential to the struggle over the right to define the normative position of history under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Despite this importance, attempts to analyze the use of history in this context are rare. This thesis aims to investigate how assessments of the past are used in UNFCCC negotiations on responsibilities to act, focusing on negotiations on historical responsibilities. The research questions concern how discourse on historical responsibility: 1) can be structured, 2) is influenced by UNFCCC negotiating practice, 3) has been structured in the UNFCCC, and 4) has enabled agreement despite considerable conflict. Official UNFCCC documentation between 1991 and 2011 was studied using discourse analysis. This study suggests: first, the UNFCCC discourse on historical responsibility conveys two main assessments—a proportional and a conceptual one—of how the past could be used to differentiate responsibilities to act. Second, the strong consensus focus necessitates rationales underlying an “agreeable history” that is neither too flexible, allowing arbitrariness, nor too rigid, reducing Parties’ likelihood of ratifying. Third, as the past evolves, new situations challenge discourse that potentially engages policy makers with a need to rearticulate history. Fourth, if the context changes, so may the importance ascribed to particular assessments of the past. If the stakes increase over time, even more effort is required to reach agreement, which simultaneously becomes more important in solving problems of common concern. Fifth, power seems difficult to circumvent, even by means of cleverly designed negotiating practice. If so, multilateral environmental negotiations could increase the legitimacy of outcomes among Parties in two principal ways: first, by identifying the core conflict that drives negotiations and, second, by evaluating how multilateral environmental negotiations handle conflict. Obscuring or ignoring conflict will likely only reduce the legitimacy of the negotiations. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2013. 71 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 569
Keyword
Historical responsibility; UNFCCC negotiations; discourse
National Category
Social Sciences Humanities
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-86920 (URN)9789175197128 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-02-15, K1, Kåkenhus, Campus Norrköping, Linköpings universitet, Norrköping, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas
Available from: 2013-01-29 Created: 2013-01-07 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved

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Friman, MathiasLinnér, Björn-ola

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