POSTKyOto The End Or The Beginning Of The Governance Of Climate Change

The KP, in many ways, is an astounding achievement—the scope of the agreement and the complexity of the solutions arrived at to combat this most complicated of environmental problems is a testament to the patience and ability of the negotiators and indeed the entire international community. And yet, in comparison to the celebrated Montreal Protocol, the KP has been roundly critiqued and derided.78 The KP seems destined to never reach the level of reverence accorded the MP. This is not because the MP was somehow better for the environment—the MP's original measures were woefully inadequate for the job of solving the ozone depletion problem. Instead, the MP is celebrated today as a great achievement because of the process that it spawned—the London Amendments and other agreements (signed by most of the international community) that progressively drove the international community toward eradication of the ozone depletion problem. The MP is considered a successful governance outcome because of what came after the MP, not because of what the document itself called upon the international community to do. The KP suffers in comparison, not because of what it calls upon the international community to do—everyone admits that even if it comes into force, it is only a bare beginning in the battle to control climate change—but because of what has happened in the aftermath of the signing of the KP.

The problems that the KP has encountered can, in important ways, be traced directly to the norm slippage surrounding universal participation. The instability in the normative context derived from the contest between the United States-advocated universal commitment and the entrenched notion of a North-first global response has fundamentally shaped the governance of climate change since 1998. The KP did not put the continued debate over Southern commitments to rest. While many technical details of the KP needed to be worked out in the subsequent COPs that followed the Kyoto meeting, the specter of Southern commitments would not disappear. Instead, the two variants of a global response solidified. The United States consistently advocated for universal commitments. The EU and G-77 consistently supported the North-first principle. The stability of these two opposing visions of a global response produced an increasingly unstable foundation for the governance of climate change. The fragility of a governance process that lacked intersubjective agreement about the appropriate global response was exposed after the substantive shift in the U.S. position that accompanied the ascension of the second Bush administration in 2001.

Ihe United States and Universal Commitments

Even though the United States achieved much of what it wanted in the KP, Congress's evaluation of it was scathing on the issue of Southern commitments.79 In the Senate the KP was described as "dead on arrival"80 and Congress as a whole was furious that the United States agreed to a protocol that did not commit Southern states to take on commitments comparable to the United States.81 One representative asked, "Since China will soon surpass the United States in the production of atmospheric pollutants, we must ask whether the Administration accomplished anything meaningful at Kyoto."82 The Clinton administration, well aware of the Congress's wrath and its own inability to secure the kind of agreement that would pass muster in the Senate, declined to submit the KP for ratification.83

The act of signing the KP did not signal a change in U.S. notions of a global response. The Clinton administration still advocated universal commitments. Following the Kyoto meetings, the United States signaled its intention "to obtain such [meaningful] participation prior to submitting this agreement to the Senate for its advice and consent."84 The administration knew that it had failed to achieve the kind of Southern participation that it had hoped for, but it did claim to have made "a down payment on developing country participation through the Clean Development Mechanism," JI, and emissions trading.85 In advocating universal commitments at the Kyoto negotiations, the United States was able to ensure that Southern states would have to take on commitments to enjoy the potential benefits of these programs.

Throughout the next three COPs when the parties met to flesh out the details of the KP, the United States continually pushed for the meaningful participation necessary to sell the KP domestically. The United States continued to base its actions and strategies on its universal commitment variant of the universal participation norm and planned a "full court diplomatic press" to "secure meaningful participation of key developing countries."86 The entrepreneurial push of the United States was felt most strongly at the first post-KP meeting of the parties in 1998. The United States was convinced that Southern states would come around—that they would see universal commitment to be in their interest:

The reason they [G-77 and China] objected [to voluntary commitments and meaningful participation] is their perception, and an incorrect one, that by taking on binding obligations, they were impairing their level of development . . .87

There was some initial fracturing of the opposition to universal commitments when Argentina agreed to take on voluntary commitments.88 The United States and Argentina were described as stealing the show at the Buenos Aires meeting of 1998 with the "most significant development on voluntary commitments."89 However, while this "significant development"90 demonstrated one of the first signs of instability in the Southern resolve on a North-first global response, it was one of the only signs from 1998 to 2003 that Southern states would break ranks and take the U.S. suggestion of a universal commitment. The subsequent COPs in 1999 and 2000 concentrated mainly on technical issues—the U.S. entrepreneurial bid to alter the appropriate global response had failed.91 No critical mass (assuming that the United States itself is not a critical mass in this issue) emerged in support of the universal commitment rule, and therefore no cascade was evident, and certainly internal-ization failed to occur. While the United States did not abandon universal commitments, it did continue to accede to the governance outcomes that flowed from the COP meetings—a trend that would not survive the change in presidential administrations.

Hie Rest of the World and the North-First Principle

U.S. entrepreneurship failed because the rest of the world (or at least most of it) strongly adhered to the North-first principle. The reception of U.S. suggestions—especially at COP 4—was predictably cool. The vision of a global response encoded in the KP defined the governance of climate change for most of the world—especially the Southern states. Both the EU and the Southern states reaffirmed the principle of North-first action and Northern support for Southern actions in the first post-KP meeting.92 The U.S. proposal of Southern commitments was characterized as "destructive for the negotiating climate."93

This lack of success can be attributed to the strength of the North-first variant of universal participation—the G-77/China and increasingly the rest of the Northern states stood firm throughout the 1998-2000 period. According to Vespa, "The EU believed industrialized countries had a moral obligation to make domestic reductions first, in an effort to equalize highly disparate global per capita differences in CO2 use."94 For their part, Southern states still maintained that Northern states should "at least take substantial action to [solve the climate change problem] before the developing countries themselves take on specific limitation commitments."95 Each of the outcomes from COP 4-6 reaffirmed the principle that Northern states should be the first to take on binding commitments. After Buenos Aires, no other signs of possible change occurred; the commitment of non-U.S. states to the North-first principle solidified significantly, and Southern commitments were not a major area of debate thereafter.96

Stability or Instability?

As in the Montreal Protocol, London Amendment, and FCCC, the normative context at the foundation of global governance activities was once again "frozen" in the KP. Universal participation structured what was expected and what was debated in the governance activities that followed the negotiating of the KP. However, the normative context was much less stable in 1997 than in 1992 and the instability grew over time. U.S. actions, driven by a competing vision of a global response, had introduced significant contestation and debate in the lead-up to Kyoto, and this continued in the subsequent COPs that met from 1998 to 2000. By acting as an entrepreneur, the United States increased the social complexity associated with a global response to climate change. By advocating universal commitment and pursuing policies of CDM, JI, and ET, the United States attempted to knock the international community out of the stable North-first variant of universal participation. While the United States was as unsuccessful between 1998 and 2000 as it was in the Kyoto negotiations, the norm contestation that was at the heart of a crucial debate at Kyoto continued to play a major role in shaping the governance of climate change in the postKyoto period.

While the normative context had an observable stability throughout the period of 1998-2000, important sources of instability grew. The North-first principle survived significant hegemonic entrepreneurial activity and was reified at each stage of the negotiations. The notion, initially conceived during the ozone depletion negotiations, that a global response entailed Northern states first taking on binding commitments remained entrenched. However, the solidifying of two opposing positions on an appropriate global response meant that the governance of climate change was no longer being built upon foundations of intersubjective agreement. As occurred immediately following the negotiation of the Montreal Protocol, different groups of major actors had significantly divergent ideas about the necessary global response for climate change. There was no longer even the illusion of consensus on the appropriate global response—a failing that would shortly prove to have enormous consequences.

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