Climate Negotiation Factors: Design, Process and Tactics

Abstract International climate negotiations take place in absence of an overarching authority to enforce compliance with the agreed objectives. As a consequence, negotiations need to motivate countries to join a climate coalition, both from an international climate and national socio-economic perspective. In order to arrive at an effective climate coalition, the process of negotiations needs to be flexible and focussed on win-win solutions. Tactical manoeuvres are needed to change the course of negotiations when needed. These tactics can take various forms such as new scientific insights or personalities of key negotiators.


General characteristics of climate policy making have been described in Chap. 1 as an introduction to this book. It has been explained how climate negotiations were initially complicated by limited scientific knowledge of climatic impacts caused by human activities, which made it rather difficult to ‘precisely’ determine required emission reductions for meeting the precautionary principle of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). While the scientific knowledge base has been growing over the past two decades, negotiations have also been complicated by game theoretical aspects such as countries’ potential incentives for free riding and lack of an overarching international disciplinary or authority.

In order to deal with the above aspects, in Chap. 1 it has been argued that successful negotiation outcomes not only depend on the design of the policy package to be negotiated, but also on the extent to which the negotiation process provides sufficient flexibility and scope for dealing with country positions and interests, as well as on tactical and facilitating aspects. The identification of these three factors for successful negotiations is not meant to be exhaustive. Instead, they are considered minimally required aspects for achieving a successful international climate policy negotiation result (in terms of agreeing on globally supported low-emission and climate-resilient policy measures).

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

W. van der Gaast, International Climate Negotiation Factors, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-46798-6_2

Before analysing in the next chapters how these factors have determined the course and outcomes of negotiations on the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, in this chapter aspects of climate negotiations are analysed in further detail.

Aspects related to the design of a global climate policy are described in Sect. 2.2 using insights on formation of international coalitions. It is discussed how coalition building works in a situation where countries jointly aim at achieving an agreement without an overarching disciplinarian, such as an international government, and whether and how trade-off effects take place in such situations between strictness of policy measures and size of the coalition. With these insights it can be better understood how international coalition building dynamics have an impact on the design of an international climate policy.

In Sect. 2.3, aspects related to the process of negotiations are described in different negotiation contexts, such as in cases where clear win-win potentials exist in policy making (negotiations enable negotiators to be all better off) and negotiations taking place in so-called win-lose situations (some negotiators are worse off whereas others are better off). In addition, the process of climate negotiations under the UNFCCC is explained in further detail, by describing both the high-level negotiations process at sessions of the Conference of the Parties (COP) and the more technical negotiations on particular policy issues such as instruments and mechanisms and modalities and procedures for these.

Finally, in Sect. 2.4 it is explained how country negotiation positions and tactics emerge from domestic values, interests, institutions and experience and how these can have an impact on the result of climate negotiations. Moreover, based on climate negotiation experience, a range offacilitating and negotiation tactics factors are discussed, including how these have influenced the direction and scope of the agreements reached (Fig. 2.1).

Climate negotiation factors

Fig. 2.1 Climate negotiation factors: design, process and tactics (author’s own elaboration)

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