Cop

The next phase of the climate negotiations moved from the Berlin Mandate/Geneva Declaration toward the Kyoto Protocol, and the U.S. Congress began to play an important and visible role. Whereas the executive branch displayed a flexible attitude toward universal participation and the Clinton administration's view of universal participation tended to at least accept the North-first variant, Congress staunchly interpreted universal participation to mean universal commitment. As the world prepared to negotiate the Kyoto Protocol, the U.S. Senate made this position enormously clear with the Byrd-Hegel resolution. This resolution, approved ninety-five to zero, was intended to be a warning to the president that the Senate would not ratify any agreement that committed the United States to binding emission reductions but failed to bind Southern states in a comparable fashion.63 In a classic two-level games fashion, the Senate effectively tied the administration's hands.64 The Clinton administration tried to move forward with a softer understanding of universal commitment, focusing on "meaningful participation," but the Congress was looking for more:

Regrettably, the President has not heeded that overwhelming guidance in the Senate . . . . By meaningfully participate, he appeared to indicate that developing countries would merely measure their production of greenhouse gases and would accept our aid to use cleaner technologies, not the legally binding restrictions that we place upon our own Nation.65

Notwithstanding the Senate's guidance, the United States went into the final phase of the Kyoto negotiations wanting three things:

1. Set realistic targets and timetables for Northern states (realistic in terms of time frames, the number of chemicals regulated, and the incorporation of sinks).

2. Focus on flexible market mechanisms to meet reduction targets.

3. Secure meaningful participation of Southern states.66

The last two of these objectives are linked and formed the most crucial aspect of the U.S. positions. The United States still felt that "any comprehensive plan to deal with this global problem must include a mechanism to bring developing countries into the process."67 These mechanisms remained the flexible market-based mechanisms that the United States advocated at the first two COPs—JI and ET.68

Of its three goals, the third would generate the most opposition as it ran headlong into the North-first understanding of universal participation that pervaded the first two COPs. The contestation over universal participation would continue. The United States certainly realized the need for Northern states to set an example and take the first steps,69 but according to Tim Wirth,

The issue is not whether developing countries, especially the big and rapidly developing ones, take on quantified commitments to limit or reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases. . . . The issue is when such commitments should begin, and what criteria should be used to establish them, and to whom they would apply.70

Thus, in the run up to Kyoto, the United States calls for meaningful participation and Southern commitments again fostered debate between the North-first and universal commitment variants of universal participation. Observers noted that given the U.S. position, the debates that shaped the agreement back in 1995 [Berlin Mandate] resurfaced, with an insistence on G-77/China involvement once again linked to the level of ambition acceptable by the US. In response, the G-77/China used every opportunity to distance itself from any attempts to draw developing countries into agreeing to anything that could be interpreted as new commitments.71

The KP negotiations were among the most complex and contentious yet seen in the governance of climate change.72 Significant debates raged on quantifying reductions, the means for achieving reductions (market mechanisms such as emissions trading, flexible mechanisms such as CDM and JI, the use of carbon sinks), Southern commitments, and Southern compensation.73 By their own admission, the United States achieved two out of their three goals—not a small achievement. Observers noted that the United States provided most of the ideas that eventually made it into the Kyoto Protocol.74 The KP reflected U.S. preferences on both targets/timetables (reductions of about 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012) as well as flexible implementation through sinks, JI, and ET. The EU, the chief Northern proponent of proactive action on climate change, acquiesced to most U.S. demands in order to move the process forward.75

However, the United States was not able to secure meaningful participation of Southern states because both the G-77 and Europe were committed to the North-first variant of universal participation.76 Southern states were staunchly against the new commitments desired by the United States, and they were unmoved by the flexible mechanisms of JI, ET, and CDM. In addition, the EU was content to move forward in a North-first fashion. The Kyoto Protocol was thus a document unlikely to be ratified by the U.S. Senate.

An analysis of the KP process succinctly summarizes the argument of this volume: "The most immediate constraints on thought lingering in Kyoto were hangovers from the original FCCC process."77 Again, the hangovers of interest concern the participation requirements that formed the foundation for these governance activities. Once the United States acquiesced to no new Southern commitments, participation would seem to drop out of the Kyoto activities. Such is not the case. Again, by structuring what all states took for granted—that all states would participate— universal participation shaped even the technical debates over targets/ timetables, carbon sinks, and implementation, and it certainly shaped the discussions over financial and technological transfers. More importantly, however, contestation over the two variants of universal participation provided a key debate at Kyoto.

Table 7.1 (included at the end of the chapter), provides a synopsis of COPs 1-3 and it displays the development of the debates over time.

Southern commitments were a constant source of debate, but in each COP, the international community agreed to leave Southern commitments out. In addition, over time, the number of flexible mechanisms continued to increase as the United States (and other Northern states) included more market-based incentives for Southern states to accede to commitments. Though the North-first variant continued to prevail in its contest with a universal commitment vision of a global response, the debate demonstrated the transition in global response introduced in the first chapter. By 1997, there were two fully articulated visions of universal participation and the United States was acting as a norm entrepreneur, advocating universal commitments. Although this debate did not outwardly alter the normative context, it did structure debate at KP and it would come to have more serious ramifications in the post-KP period.

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