Universal Participation and the Prevalence of Development Concerns

From the outset, it was clear that the climate change negotiations would be universal and that South-North issues would be at the top of the agenda. Curiously, from a strategic bargaining (or rational coercive bargaining) standpoint, the North accepted the principles of North-first action and of development assistance (side payments of financial and technological transfers) without any bargaining even though the South lacked the bargaining leverage to force linkage of development concerns to the issue of climate change. Developmental assistance was a natural inclusion and as one observer notes:

A critical reason for Developing Country participation in the FCCC negotiations was their understanding from the international political declarations in the pre 1990 phase that there would be substantial technological and financial assistance for coping with the problem and in dealing with its effects.89

The environmental protection/development linkage that permeated the FCCC negotiations would have been impossible were it not for the underlying awareness of climate change as requiring a universal global response.90 Though the inclusion of Southern concerns on the climate change agenda is often taken for granted, it is puzzling from the dominant strategic bargaining perspective. According to this approach, achieving the linkage of development issues and environmental protection requires that Southern states have significant bargaining leverage.91 Such leverage is dependent on Southern states' ability to make credible threats. They "must have the material capability to carry out a threat large enough to reverse the target's cost-benefit calculations as well as material interest in doing so that is sufficient to convince the target that this threat is credible."92 Credible threats are possible when Northern states have a significant interest in solving an environmental problem and Southern states can disrupt the achievement of that goal. This interest-based explanation examines the costs of degradation of the resource in question, the costs/benefits of solutions for the problem, and the demand for the re-source.93 The evaluation of these factors allows states to make a determination about the behaviors they prefer to undertake—how eager they are for environmental protection measures.

Thus, when Southern states prefer development more than environmental protection and when they have the power to disrupt attempts at achieving environmental protection through such development, they should be able to "link issues and extract side-payments that make cooperation more attractive."94 The Southern states, as less eager parties, hope to induce the Northern states into following a policy of what Lebow has dubbed a strategy of rewards, most often used during Type I bargaining encounters where "no agreement seems possible at first because no outcome can be found that satisfies the minimum conditions of the sides."95 In the ozone negotiations, especially post-Montreal, Southern countries had the prerequisite power (the potential future ability of the South to produce and consume CFCs was significant and socially constructed to be important), and asymmetrical interests (the South preferred development over ozone layer protection and the North displayed a strong interest in protecting the ozone layer) that led to predictions of development-environment linkage. The results of the London negotiations of 1990 bear out this prediction.

However, bargaining analysis does not always tell the whole story. This is apparent when linkage is attained when the Southern states have ambiguous or even poor bargaining positions. In contrast to the ozone depletion case, in the climate change negotiations the Southern countries had the prerequisite power (their potential to emit greenhouse gases was staggering), but lacked the clear asymmetrical interests needed for a strong bargaining position.96 As Sell notes, both the United States—the most important Northern actor—and the large97 Southern countries had an identical highest preference—freeriding.98 In Lebow's language, this leads to a Type II bargaining encounter where preferences overlap.99 This type of encounter is not conducive for inducing a strategy of rewards from the other party.100 Thus, with the United States having little interest in environmental protection (in this issue), and Southern countries opposing, "any restrictions on their future use of fossil fuels until they had reached a higher level of development,"101 the bargaining position of the Southern countries was weak, severely hampering their ability to induce developmental linkage to the climate change negotiations—linkage that pervaded the international community as well as U.S. negotiating positions.

The failings of strategic bargaining arise from the acontextual, ahis-torical nature of the explanations offered. The approach treats every negotiation as an independent event and bases predictions solely on extant interests and power. In the ozone case, taken alone, the predictions are fairly accurate and the approach is not without utility (though its success is still predicated on normative foundations and a particular understanding of a global response). Global governance rules can be constructed through issue-linkage facilitated by strategic bargaining.102

However, in the climate change case the approach is hampered by the very characteristic that makes it analytically attractive: comparative statics. The historical context in which climate change was negotiated was vastly different than it was for the ozone depletion negotiations. When the international community addressed climate change, the ozone depletion negotiations had already created a context of thinking universally. The inclusion of development provisions was considered natural or was taken for granted in the climate change case, rather than being the result of bargaining. Evidence of this is seen in the fact that development assistance policies were on international negotiating agendas and included in U.S. climate change strategies before any bargaining took place.103 The universal participation norm influenced the very manner in which climate change would be discussed—South/North issues would be at the fore.

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