Ihe Evolution of the Normative Context and US Rule Models 19921997 An Overview

Between 1992 and 1997 the U.S. climate rule models exhibited both change and stability. The changes are usually the focus of analysis and commentary, but in this case the stability is as, if not more, important. First, there was a substantive change in the U.S. position on climate change. With the change in administration from the first Bush administration (Bush I) to Clinton, the United States became significantly more proactive on climate change, eventually calling for the binding emissions reductions that were anathema during the previous administration. Second, there was a solidifying of the U.S. position on universal commitments. The Clinton administration demonstrated significant stability in this position, calling for broad participation, meaningful participation, and a common menu of options for all states—Northern and Southern— throughout the period that culminated in the Kyoto Protocol. In this sense, the U.S. rule model was stable and continuous across administrations. However, the United States did soften its stance on universal commitments enough to accede to a series of governance outcomes (Berlin Mandate, Geneva Declaration, and the Kyoto Protocol) that continued to enshrine North-first principles.

The acceptance of these outcomes was not a signal that the United States was abandoning its universal commitment stance. In this period we also see the beginning of concerted U.S. entrepreneurship for universal commitment. Rhetorically, universal commitments became the mantra of U.S. officials. More substantively, the United States pursued a number of mechanisms to induce Southern states to take on commitments.14 The United States advocated:

• Joint Implementation (JI)—a flexible mechanism that allows states/companies to accrue emissions reduction credit for financing projects in another state where such projects may be cheaper.

• Emissions Trading (ET)—a market-based mechanism that would quantify and cap greenhouse emissions. States with emissions below their cap could trade their credits to those states with emissions above their caps.

• Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)—a program, similar to JI, designed to encourage and finance climate-friendly technological projects in the South.15

Rhetorically and substantively, then, the United States was suggesting a new global response to climate change—a response that entailed universal commitments.16

The normative context surrounding the climate change issue in the lead-up to Kyoto remained relatively stable as well. First, it was characterized by stable lock-in around universal participation and the accompanying principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and Northern support for Southern actions. Second, there was significant contestation over a third inherited aspect of universal participation—North-first action. This contestation was over defining not who should participate—a question answered in the ozone depletion and FCCC negotiations—but rather how should states participate? This growing debate would frame important divisions in the negotiations throughout the decade. The Southern states were especially concerned with the continuation of the principle of a North-first global response, while Northern states were initially more ambivalent. The United States began, once again, to speak of broad and concurrent commitments. States in the EU, hoping to move rapidly and progressively on the issue, tended to accede to North-first notions.

However, though there was debate, the normative context remained, in this period, defined by North-first principles. Each governance outcome reified the understanding that Northern states should take the first steps. So while there was contestation, the North-only variant "won" each time. The North-first variant of universal participation characterized all of the governance outcomes in this period, including the Berlin Mandate of 1995 and the groundbreaking Kyoto Protocol of 1997. At each stage, North-first notions were reified and "frozen" in the agreements reached during negotiations. In that sense, the normative context remained locked in to the original meaning of universal participation that emerged during the ozone depletion negotiations, though the stability of the normative context was under considerable assault from a hegemonic challenge.

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