COP 1Berlin 1995

A major change in the international negotiating environment was the transition from Bush I to the Clinton administration in 1993. In contrast to Bush I, the Clinton White House signaled that it would be more aggressive on climate change both domestically and internationally.17 The United States was a leader in formulating its national climate action plan and pushed other states to do so as well. In 1994, Secretary of Energy, Hazel O'Leary, claimed, "We expect our [climate] Action Plan will inspire similar efforts in other developed countries."18 This significant change in U.S. substantive position on climate change—from laggard to leader (of sorts)—was tempered or accompanied by the continuing U.S. stance on universal commitments.

From the outset of the FCCC negotiations, the United States was discontented with the North-first variant of universal participation—if climate change was going to be seriously dealt with (something the United States for the most part did not desire before the Clinton administration took office), the United States wanted all states to share in the costs and responsibilities.19 This universal commitment understanding of universal participation developed further through the 1992-1997 period, driven mainly by U.S. evaluations of the FCCC outcome through domestic politics. The United States certainly internalized the notion of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR), but over time the United States came to view CBDR as requiring universal commitments.20 The development of this rule model can be attributed not as much to changing presidential administrations (a common source of explanation for most U.S. climate change positions), though that did play a role, but rather to the continual evaluation of the universal participation rule by both executive branch agencies and Congress as well as underlying industry skepticism about competition.

Both the Department of Energy and the Department of State decried the lack of Southern commitments in their evaluation of the FCCC.21 The United States called upon scientific evidence of the growing impact of Southern emissions and called for much broader participation. Overall, the United States found the FCCC lacking both substantively and in terms of participation.22 The United States just did not see the FCCC as an adequate agreement, now that control of the White House had shifted parties. Thus, domestic politics plays a key role. Interestingly, and as noted previously, the shift in administration did not alter participation rule models— these were heavily internalized and part of the fundamental understanding of climate change. However, the shift certainly influenced the evaluation of the FCCC. The US saw three major problems with the FCCC:

1. Lack of Southern commitments

2. Lack of post-2000 aims for the parties

3. Limited scope of commitments.23

This evaluation led the United States to call for universal commitments in the governance of climate change. While the principle of CBDR remained rhetorically important, the United States began to reinterpret its content. As Rafe Pomerance told a House Subcommittee:

[W]e have long stated that climate change is a global problem and that solving it will require broad international participation. While industrialized countries and developing countries both have commitments under the convention, we believe that more must be done on a global basis, recognizing the common but differentiated responsibilities of all Parties.24

The mantra coming from the U.S. government was one of universal commitments. The United States no longer believed (assuming they ever had) that an appropriate global response entailed the North taking on binding commitments before the South. Time and again, U.S. officials would make the following case:

[T]here must be broader participation in making the convention a success. The international community must recognize— and act upon the realization that—the efforts of an increasing number of countries, beyond those of the OECD and those with economies in transition to market economies, will be required to solve this problem.25

Of course, this is not surprising. As the largest emitter of greenhouse gases and an economy dependent upon fossil fuel, the United States was looking for as many partners as possible to spread the costs of combating climate change—should more restrictive measures be forthcom-ing.26 Thus, in the lead up to the Berlin meetings, the United States called for a "common menu of actions" that would encourage broad commitments.27 The stance on universal participation was not new in terms of commitments or support for Southern actions. The argument for Southern commitments was similar to that made by the first Bush administration in the FCCC negotiations. In addition, one aspect of the universal participation norm, assistance to Southern states, remained unchallenged.

According to Pomerance, "Our obligations—both as a global leader and under our commitments in the climate convention—require that we assist developing countries."28 The rule model that structured U.S. actions heading into Berlin called for CBDR, universal commitments, and Northern support for Southern Action.

The negotiations at Berlin, like those for the FCCC, tackled numerous issues, but were underlaid by the universal participation norm, and now contestation over its meaning. First, it is clear that universal participation was still the norm for climate change in 1995, and still influencing the governance process.29 As Pomerance noted, "There are now over 120 Parties to the convention, each of which approaches the Berlin Conference with its own set of concerns."30 Universal participation and the principle of CBDR and Northern support for Southern actions were taken for granted.31

While universal participation was not controversial, contestation between a North-first vision of universal participation and one espousing universal commitments structured a major debate before and at COP 1.32 Southern states continually stated their opposition to any new commitments for non-Annex I states (Southern states), while the United States and some other Northern states continually advocated for a broader conception of a global response.33 The debate was not clear-cut at Berlin as the universal commitment position was still being framed. Those in favor of North-first action stated very clear positions in line with the precedence of the ozone agreements and the FCCC.34 On the other side, there was some ambiguous movement toward the universal commitment position before and at Berlin.35 The states that would form the Umbrella group (United States, Japan, Russia, Australia, Canada) of Northern states generally less proactive on climate change, were the most forceful in their calls for opening up debate on Southern commitments.36 Other Northern states (especially within the EU) were more willing to recognize the North-first principle.37

At Berlin itself, the major debates concerned issues of joint implementation (JI) procedural items, and the major issue of the adequacy of commitments (both Northern and Southern).38 It was at Berlin where the issue of more restrictive, binding measures again rose to the surface and three lines of debate on the adequacy of commitments emerged. Some states (both Northern and Southern) were proactive and called for Northern states to move past their FCCC commitments and begin implementing concrete emission reduction programs.39 Other states (mostly Southern states wary of any discussion of new commitments lest the debate turn to Southern commitments) argued for the status quo and the need to meet the goals of the FCCC before additional commitments are considered.40 A third group (mostly Northern states) called for both Northern and Southern states to move past FCCC commitments.41

JI, raised first at the FCCC negotiations, was used by the United States and other states as a bridging device between Northern and Southern commitment positions. They argued that this mechanism promotes efficiency, as the reduction projects can take place where the reductions are cheapest. The United States and other Northern states have used JI as an incentive for bringing Southern states into broader commitments than held in the FCCC. In preparation for the Berlin meeting, Northern states pushed for a pilot JI program.42

COP 1 made some progress. In the outcome of the meeting, the Berlin Mandate, parties agreed to examine Annex I commitments, to define longer-term goals/actions (remember that the FCCC made no mention of commitments past 2000), and to launch a pilot program for JI.43 Though the United States and other Northern states were able to convince the international community about the possible benefits of JI, universal commitments were a dead end. The Berlin Mandate "specifies that there will be no new commitments for developing country Parties."44 By acceding to the Berlin Mandate, the United States showed some flexibility on its universal commitment stance, though the debate was just beginning.

The influence of the universal participation norm was felt palpably in the negotiations—who should participate was not an issue. This was predefined by the universal participation norm built in to both the ozone depletion and climate change negotiations. How states should participate became a crucial question, precisely because the prior question of who should participate was already answered in a very specific way. At Berlin, the international community drew upon an existing answer for how states should participate—the North-first variant of universal participation developed in the ozone depletion and FCCC negotiations continued to structure the normative context. While there was contestation, this variant remained the norm. Thus, the universal participation norm shaped both aspects of governance taken for granted (who should participate) as well as aspects of governance at the core of key debates (how should states participate). This trend would continue through to the Kyoto negotiations and beyond.

COP 2-Geneva 1996

The U.S. evolution toward climate leadership continued in the lead-up to COP 2 in Geneva during July 1996. The United States finally accepted the need for binding emission reductions to combat climate change.45 This was a historic transition in the U.S. substantive position on climate change, which reversed the resolute recalcitrance displayed by the United States during the FCCC negotiations. The substantive transition was, however, accompanied by a continued commitment to enhancing Southern participation. At this point, the United States still admitted that Northern states should take the lead,46 but continued to push for a universal global response and binding commitments from all states. Wirth concluded that "[t]he United States is immovable in its belief that international cooperation on this challenge remains critical to an effective response and that all nations—developed and developing—will have to become more ambitious in contributing to the solution to this challenge as we move forward."47

The United States persisted in developing the universal commitment variation of universal participation. Multiple factors account for this, including the above mentioned concern with economic costs and industrial competitiveness. In addition, the development of the U.S. rule model was driven by congressional pressure. Frank Murkowski, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee at the time, articulated a relatively broadly accepted position:

In Berlin, we agreed that there would be new greenhouse gas emission limits that would apply to the United States and other industrialized nations . . . but that the new limits would not apply to "developing nations" such as China, India, and South Korea. . . . This means that some of our toughest trade competitors will get to sit at the negotiating table and set the greenhouse gas emission limits that apply to us, but not to them. . . . Americans who will be affected by these negotiations-Americans whose jobs may be lost, whose wallets may be emptied and whose lifestyles may be changed don't often get to travel to Geneva and Berlin to watch one of these UN negotiations and understand what is going on there.48

Though the Clinton administration had shown its willingness to accede to a North-first governance outcome in the Berlin Mandate (with some expression of disapproval of the lack of Southern commitments),49 Pomerance noted that the United States was still committed to seeking a universal global response: "We have heard loud and clear the view from Congress about the importance of developing countries undertaking steps to reduce their share of emissions."50

Southern commitments aside, the United States was in step with the rest of the international community on universal participation and Northern support for Southern actions heading into COP 2. Again, these issues were taken for granted and firmly ensconced in the normative context. The United States considered it "imperative" to "meet the modest funding requirements for the . . . Global Environment Facility."51 This call was mirrored in the Geneva Declaration and while the implementation of funding has always been a contentious issue, the principle of financial assistance and technological transfer was never up for debate.52 Again, some issues were simply taken for granted throughout the COP

process, legacies of the universal participation norm and its instantiation in the ozone depletion negotiations and the FCCC.

Though much was taken for granted, however, the contestation between North-first and universal commitment would continue. North-first still dominated the proceedings as evidenced by the executive director of UNEP, Elizabeth Dowdeswell's, opening of COP 2 with a call for Northern states to take a "clear lead."53 Southern countries continued to stress the need for Annex I countries to fulfill their obligations before any new Southern commitments were discussed.54 India, in a pre-COP 2 meeting, stated that "the crux of the issue was to set quantified reduction targets within a specified time frame for Annex I parties, without introducing new commitments for non-Annex I Parties."55 Northern countries remained split on this issue with some reaffirming the North-first idea and others calling for new commitments.56 Germany, for instance, noted that it "was 'high time' to start negotiations" on emissions reductions for Northern states.57 The EU as a whole argued that Annex I parties should take the lead.58 On the other hand, the United States and Canada called upon the South to "eventually take on new commitments."59

Some of the issues under debate at COP 2 had a familiar ring— reduction commitments, JI, financial mechanisms, procedural rules—while other issues were raised seriously for the first time—emissions trading.60 The United States linked support for a binding protocol to a "a preference for a tradable permit system, raising new complexities for delegations."61 The United States continued to push for market mechanisms to structure a global response through universal commitments. The major accomplishment of COP 2, enshrined in the Geneva Declaration, was the adoption of a call for binding emission reductions (though it left the task of quantifying them for later meetings). The United States "enthusiastically endorsed the Geneva Declaration," even though it still lacked commitments for Southern states.62 Thus, the North-first principle was victorious again, though by agreeing to binding emission reduction and proposing an emissions trading system, the United States continued to pursue a new notion of a global response—one that called for universal commitments.

In some ways the debates at the COPs grew more technical over time as the philosophical positions stabilized. There was much more discussed at Geneva than this synopsis even hints at in terms of the details of emissions reductions and flexible implementation mechanisms. The switch to more technical discussions demonstrates the growing consensus that was emerging on the philosophical questions that opened this chapter. More restrictive, binding commitments were now seen as necessary. The consensus that emerged in Berlin and Geneva upheld the North-first version of universal participation—the Northern states would negotiate binding commitments and the Southern states would not be asked to undertake new commitments.

The North would pay for Southern commitments. These aspects of the governance of climate change were already set and not negotiated over, though the United States continued to suggest universal commitments and pushed for JI and ET—mechanisms to induce Southern commitments. Though the United States was growing increasingly isolated on universal commitments, the debate over universal participation would not evaporate.

COP 2 was crucial for the larger issues that were both taken for granted and debated. As the negotiations turned to more technical matters—how to reduce emissions, how to measure reductions, and how to transfer technology and money—the universal participation norm actually became both more important and less prominent. Important because it structured what all states took for granted—the participation of all states in the governance process—thus shaping how the details of issues were discussed. Less prominent because the notion of universal participation faded into the background. All states were participating—the governance of climate change had truly gone global at this point. This is not to say that the remaining debates were not complex or difficult or that the governance of climate change will be successful. Instead, the claim is that the contours of the governance of climate change are relatively stable and defined by the universal participation norm. The one area where this taken-for-granted quality is lacking is the contestation over Southern commitments. Driven by different visions of universal participation the South and the United States (for the most part) debated the need for additional commitments by the South. By the end of COP 2 the North-first variant had again shown its resilience in the face of hegemonic challenge and was reified in the Geneva Declaration.

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