Oct 12 2010

Climate change talks should focus on ‘building blocks’ of policy instead of international treaty

windfarmNext month’s international talks on climate change in Cancun, Mexico, should focus on putting together the “building blocks” of global policy instead of drawing up a comprehensive new treaty, according to new research published in the journal ‘Global Policy’.

A paper by Robert Falkner, Senior Lecturer in the International Relations Department at LSE, (co-authored with Hannes Stephan and John Vogler of Keele University) calls for agreements between countries on key aspects of climate change policy, such as deforestation, adaptation and technology transfer, without a comprehensive, universal and legally-binding treaty. It argues that the international effort to negotiate a comprehensive, universal and legally-binding treaty on climate change “has been producing diminishing returns for some time” and that an alternative approach is needed “which develops different elements of climate governance in an incremental fashion and embeds them in an international political framework”.

This approach is already emergent in international politics, particularly so after the Copenhagen conference in December 2009 laid bare the deep fissures in climate politics that make a global deal ever less likely. However, a more strategic approach is needed to ensure that – over time – such partial elements add up to an ambitious and internationally coordinated climate policy, which does not drive down the level of aspiration and commitment.

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