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Consensus rationales in negotiating historical responsibility for climate change
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. The Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI), Norrköping, Sweden .ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1912-5538
2016 (English)In: International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, ISSN 1567-9764, E-ISSN 1573-1553, Vol. 16, no 2, 285-305 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article explores strategies in consensus-making processes in international climate diplomacy. Specifically, it examines the consensus-making politics, in the case of negotiating historical responsibility within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. In doing so, analytical concepts from the discourse theory of Laclau and Mouffe are utilized to look for rationales that underpin discursive structures as well as agreement. To conclude, three rationales have dealt with conflicts over historical 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 historical 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 historical responsibility from this perspective can help guide policy makers toward decisions that avoid old pitfalls and construct new rationales that generate a higher sense of legitimacy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Netherlands, 2016. Vol. 16, no 2, 285-305 p.
Keyword [en]
Climate negotiations, Consensus, Legitimacy, Historical responsibility
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-107221DOI: 10.1007/s10784-014-9258-1ISI: 000372245400006OAI: diva2:722927
Swedish Research Council Formas, 2011-779Swedish Energy Agency, P35462-2

Funding agencies: Formas [2011-779]; Swedish Energy Agency [P35462-2]

Available from: 2014-06-09 Created: 2014-06-09 Last updated: 2016-04-20Bibliographically approved

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Friman, Mathias
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Centre for Climate Science and Policy Research Department of Water and Environmental StudiesFaculty of Arts and Sciences
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