The Complexity of Constructing a Global Response

The Future is not some place we are going to but one we are creating. The paths to it are not found but made, and the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destination.

—John Schaar, quoted in Lamont Hempel, Environmental Governance

Present experience is no guide to the future, except when it is augmented with contingent assumptions about the connections of the past to the future.

—Elliot Sober, Reconstructing the Past

Emmanuel Adler makes an interesting distinction between worldviews of "being" and "becoming" that seems especially pertinent for this concluding chapter. A being worldview, "sees everything in nature and society as being static and mechanistic, including change," while a becoming world-view "considers everything to be in flux, as a permanent process of change and evolution, even that which appears to be static."1 This book argues for and demonstrates the efficacy of the becoming worldview for understanding global governance.

Global governance, as defined in chapter 1, is an inherently dynamic concept. Although there appears to be little consensus on what global governance is, looks like, or how to approach studying it,2 the consensus that does exist considers that the rules of global governance are fluid and evolving. Global governance theorists for the most part accept the argument that

"in most social-political systems such entropic states of (final) equilibrium will (fortunately) never be reached."3 It thus becomes crucial to understand the process through which the rules of global governance evolve.

In this volume, I have concentrated on the key role that social norms play in the evolution of global governance. Social norms are at the foundation of global governance as these ideas shape how the global governance enterprise (across multiple issues) proceeds. Social norms provide the contours of global governance, shaping how global responses to problems are defined, identifying the crucial characteristics of problems, and structuring what is both taken for granted and debated in global governance activities. Thus, understanding how global governance proceeds requires grasping two crucial concepts. First, we must understand how social norms emerge and evolve over time, providing new foundations for governance. Social norms are living, dynamic aspects of social life, and equilibrium is a chimera. Even stable social norms require dynamic actions and continual reification to exist. Second, we must understand how social norms influence the more recognizable activities of global governance such as multilateral negotiations. Social norms influence who participates in these activities, what participants see as possible and appropriate, and the debates that arise.

The dynamic nature of global governance and the social norms at its foundation are clearly evident in the ozone depletion and climate change cases. The empirical target for this book was a series of transitions in participation requirements that fundamentally shaped how the governance of these issues proceeded. The first transition, evident in the ozone depletion negotiations, transformed how the international community conceived of "global" environmental problems. After 1987 and the Montreal Protocol, it was no longer possible to view global problems as North-only problems. Universal participation emerged as the dominant understanding of a global response. This new conception of ozone depletion had immediate and crucial impacts on the governance of ozone depletion—transforming ozone depletion into a North-South issue almost overnight.

More importantly, perhaps, a universal participation norm locked in throughout the international community and came to define the global response to the next environmental problem to top the international political agenda—climate change. From the very beginning, climate change was deemed a universal problem, just not for the material or strategic reasons usually referred to. The political context within which the international community addressed climate change defined it as a universal problem and this determined how the United States and other states defined the problem. Crucially, this intersubjective understanding was just as real as any material or strategic considerations and in fact it shaped the very manner in which the material characteristics of climate change were understood as well as the strategic plans for dealing with the problem.

The historically derived universal participation requirement put boundaries on how climate change could be addressed, closing off certain avenues while opening others. Such lock-in around universal participation fundamentally shaped the initial governance of climate change and the negotiation of the FCCC in 1992. Universal participation shaped actors' perceptions, strategies, and behavior, as well as the debates that arose and outcomes that were reached.

The lock in around universal participation also fostered the second transition in participation requirements. This transition, more subtle than the first, saw the bifurcation of universal participation into two variants—North-first and universal commitment—during the second phase of the climate change negotiations from 1994 to 2003. Contestation over the appropriate global response translated into crucial debates over the governance of climate change throughout the 1990s and 2000s.

Sorting through all of this dynamism—in the abstract and in the specific cases at hand—has not been the strong suit of international relations theory.4 Notions of equilibrium have dominated our discipline and the corrective emerging from the global governance literature is wel-come.5 In this volume I turned to social constructivism and the insights of complexity theory as a way to manage the dynamism of global governance in general, and to explain the evolving governance of ozone depletion and climate change specifically. This book told the story of the evolving foundations of the global governance of ozone depletion and climate change. It traced and explained how the global response to these problems changed over time, influenced and structured by underlying norms of appropriate participation. In essence, the emergence and evolution of a universal participation norm fundamentally constrained and shaped how states defined the problems of ozone depletion and climate change, how states behaved in negotiations, and what issues and debates defined the governance process.

To explain the emergence and evolution of participation norms I turned to the norm life cycle, a macro process relying on norm entrepreneurs to catalyze both norm emergence and change. I complemented this with a micro process of complex adaptation drawn from the study of complex adaptive systems. This framework allowed me to trace the emergence of universal participation in the 1980s and its evolution in the 1990s. The explanation of norm emergence and evolution further facilitated a full analysis of the governance activities in these periods. Understanding the normative foundations allowed me to explain the strategies and actions of a key participant—the United States—as well as the flow and outcomes of the multilateral negotiations for ozone depletion and climate change.

In this concluding chapter, I will take a step back and evaluate the big picture of the preceding analysis and the implications of this study. First, I will discuss the empirical implications and ruminate on what was learned about the governance of ozone depletion and climate change. Second, I will turn to thoughts on global governance in the abstract and evaluate the theoretical and methodological approach adopted in this volume. Finally, I will turn to potential caveats, extensions, and the wider applicability of the insights accrued in this analysis.

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