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Historical responsibility : Assessing the past in international climate negotiations
2013 (English)Doktorsavhandling, sammanläggning (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, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2013. 71 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 569
Keyword [en]
Historical responsibility; UNFCCC negotiations; discourse
National Category
Social Sciences Humanities
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-86920 (URN)978-­91-­7519-­712-­8 (ISBN)oai:DiVA.org:liu-86920 (OAI)
Public defence
2013-02-15, K1, Kåkenhus, Campus Norrköping, Linköpings universitet, Norrköping, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Formas
Available from2013-01-29 Created:2013-01-07 Last updated:2013-01-30Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Technology obscuring equity: historical responsibility in UNFCCC negotiations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Technology obscuring equity: historical responsibility in UNFCCC negotiations
2008 (English)In: Climate Policy, ISSN 1469-3062, Vol. 8, no 4, 339-354Artikel i tidskrift (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.

Keyword
Brazilian proposal, burden sharing, climate change, discourse, equity, historical responsibility, North–South
National Category
Natural Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-14986 (URN)10.3763/cpol.2007.0438 (DOI)
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 from2008-10-06 Created:2008-10-06 Last updated:2013-01-29Bibliographically approved
2. Consensus rationales in negotiating historic responsibility for climate change
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Consensus rationales in negotiating historic responsibility for climate change
(English)Manuskript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

On matters of substance, international environmental treaty making generally require agreement in consensus. This article explores strategies in consensus-making processes in international environmental diplomacy. Specifically it examines the consensus-making politics, in the case of negotiating historic responsibility within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In doing so, analytical concepts from the discourse theory of Laclau and Mouffe are utilized to look for rationales that underpin agreement. To conclude, three rationales have dealt with conflicts over historic responsibility. While the first rationale hid conflict behind interpretative flexibility, the second reverted to “reasoned consensus,” excluding perspectives commonly understood as political rather than scientific. The third rationale has enabled equivocal use of the concept of historic responsibility in several parallel discourses, yet negotiators still stumble on how to synthesize these with a potential to foster future, more policy-detailed, consensuses with higher legitimacy. Understanding the history and current situation of negotiations on historic responsibility from this perspective can help guide policy makers towards decisions that avoid old pitfalls and construct new rationales that generate a higher sense of legitimacy.

Keyword
Climate negotiations; consensus; legitimacy; historic responsibility
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-86871 (URN)
Available from2013-01-07 Created:2013-01-07 Last updated:2013-01-29Bibliographically approved
3. Historical responsibility for climate change
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Historical responsibility for climate change : defining aspects
(English)Manuskript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Since 1990, the academic literature on historical responsibility for climate change has grown considerably. Over these years, the approaches to defining this responsibility have varied considerably. This article demonstrates how this variation can be explained with reference to combining various aspects in defining of historic contribution and responsibility without always explicating them. Scientific knowledge that takes choices among defining aspects for granted is likely to become a foundation for distrust, both within science and among negotiators under UNFCCC and elsewhere. On the other hand, for various reasons, not all choices can be explicated at all times. This article is intended to guide those who need to evaluate the assumptions underlying specific claims regarding historical responsibility. As such, the article aims to map, review, and analytically classify the academic literature on historic contributions to and responsibility for climate change into categories of defining aspects. One immediately policy--‐relevant conclusion emerges from this exercise: Coupled with negotiators’ highly divergent understandings of historical responsibility, the sheer number of defining aspects makes it virtually impossible to offer scientific advice without creating distrust in certain parts of the policy circle. This conclusion suggests that any scientific attempt to establish historical responsibility will have little relevance to actual policy unless policymakers first negotiate a clearer framework for its establishment.

National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-86869 (URN)
Available from2013-01-07 Created:2013-01-07 Last updated:2013-01-29Bibliographically approved
4. Building legitimacy
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Building legitimacy : consensus and conflict over historic responsibility for climate change
2013 (English)In: Interpretive approaches to global climate governance deconstructing the greenhouse / [ed] Chris Methmann, Delf Rothe and Benjamin Stephan, London and New York: Routledge, 2013, 217-231Kapitel i bok, del av antologi (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

During the past two decades, negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have been the central forum for the organization of global climate governance. However, when it comes to decision-making, the UNFCCC is indeed a rather odd bird in the UN family. The UNFCCC is an independent treaty body that entered into force in 1994 and has yet to adopt rules of procedure, especially with respect to the role and function of voting. In the absence of voting procedures, all decisions have required, if not unanimous agreement, at least consensus in that there are no declared objections (Depledge 2005).

Depledge (2005) underscores that states’ understanding of UNFCCC consensuses as legitimate is particularly important: if the process fails to build consensuses that are judged as legitimate, UNFCCC outcomes are unlikely to be effectively implemented. In this connection, Hurd (1999) argues that there are three reasons for sovereign states to obey international law: coercion,  maximized selfinterests, and legitimacy. The first two have, according to Hurd, gained a disproportionate amount of attention in international relations studies. However, it no longer seems controversial to claim, with Hurd, that they are insufficient on their own (Okereke et al. 2009; Risse 2004).

This chapter aims to account for and understand legitimacy, particularly in relation to consensus and conflict in negotiating historic responsibility under the UNFCCC. The case embodies a general principle in multilateral environmental negotiations, which differentiates responsibility based on contribution to a problem (Stone 2004). The long history of negotiating historic responsibility serves to account for and understand legitimacy in connection with consensus and conflict: while it has been endorsed by a number of consensuses, the question of how to operationalize the concept of historic responsibility has been subject to intense debate since the early 1990s (Friman and Linnér 2008).

This contribution uses discourse theory of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe to approach legitimacy. As indicated in the introduction to this book, Laclau’s and Mouffe’s discourse theory is in general agreement with the departure points for interpretative perspectives. How this position differs from other approaches will be exemplified by contrasting it with an understanding of legitimacy derived from Jürgen Habermas. Both of these theories approach legitimacy in procedural terms, which leads me to start this chapter by discussing definitions of legitimacy and rules of procedure under the UNFCCC. The chapter continues with discussing how this definition relates to the two theories and how they can be applied to the case of negotiations on historic responsibility. One of the four dominant interpretations of climate change (see Hulme 2009 and Chapter 1, this volume), the scientific, has played a particularly important role in building consensus on historic responsibility while avoiding to deal with core conflict. For a long time, this did not promote legitimacy. On the other hand, this chapter concludes that the capacity and consensuses built during the years of negotiating historic responsibility in scientific terms have now created a situation where negotiators may draw on the scientific understanding to explicate conflict in other areas, such as that of social change. How to treat this resurfacing conflict while building legitimacy is still an open question; the chapter ends by tentatively proposing a new long-term negotiating forum under the UNFCCC to deal with core questions on different understandings of responsibility, designed to use conflict to build legitimacy.

London and New York: Routledge, 2013
Keyword
Climatic changes -- Government policy, Climate change mitigation -- International cooperation, Klimatpolitik
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-86919 (URN)0-415-52188-2 (ISBN)978-0-415-52188-8 (ISBN)
Available from2013-01-07 Created:2013-01-07 Last updated:2014-10-09Bibliographically approved
5. Understanding Boundary Work through Discourse Theory
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Understanding Boundary Work through Discourse Theory : Inter/disciplines and Interdisciplinarity
2010 (English)In: Science Studies, ISSN 0786-3012, Vol. 23, no 2, 5-19Artikel i tidskrift (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Interdisciplinarity is usually described as different from disciplinarity: a discipline is said to generate distinct boundaries, separating it from the undisciplined, while interdisciplinarity connotes the crossing of such boundaries. Less attention is paid to how boundary crossing itself creates new boundaries. This article asks how boundary work can be understood in theory and what this understanding means to academic debate on interdisciplinarity. From this perspective, there is reason to talk of interdisciplines conducting boundary work distinguishable by the fundamental logic guiding boundary creation. In this new approach, disciplinary logic distinguishes itself by promoting the monopolization of knowledge, whereas interdisciplinary logic fundamentally promotes plurality. As opposed to much use of the term “interdisciplinarity”, this version would be conceptually meaningful in relation to “disciplinarity”. Though boundary work following an anti-boundary logic might seem contradictory, this is not necessarily so: what is guarded in an interdiscipline could well be the possibility of permeability.

 

Keyword
boundary work; discourse; discipline; interdiscipline; interdisciplinarity
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-62778 (URN)
Funder
Formas
Available from2010-12-03 Created:2010-12-03 Last updated:2013-01-29

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