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Negotiation Factors 2 and 3: Impact of Negotiation Process and Tactics

With respect to the second factor identified in Chap. 2 for successful climate negotiations, the negotiation process itself, the INC demonstrated the flexibility to accelerate negotiations shortly before the UNCED summit. However, it also became clear that the two-year negotiation period 1991 -1992 was rather short for agreeing on an effective and ambitious climate treaty. The adoption of, e.g., the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and taking precautionary actions, as well as handling of the stabilisation objectives for industrialised countries without legally-binding status showed that at some negotiation stages there had been decisive tactical manoeuvres, which enabled reaching an agreement (demonstrating the third negotiation factor identified in this book, tactics).

Below follows a summary of the assessment in this chapter of UNFCCC negotiations against the factors design, process and tactics factors (Table 3.1).

Table 3.1 Summary of design, procedural and tactical factors of UNFCCC negotiations

Description of negotiations per negotiation factor

Assessment of negotiations per factora

Design of UNFCCC


Global coverage, but with (non-legally binding) objectives for developed countries (Annex I Parties) only Both mitigation and adaptation


Common but differentiated responsibilities, to highlight different positions of developed and developing countries in negotiations Precautionary principle



Stabilisation of greenhouse emissions of developed country by the year 2000 at 1990 levels Means

Technology and financial support from developed to developing countries Introduction of Joint Implementation as carbon emissions trading instrument

  • (+) UNFCCC aims at global collaboration
  • (-) No binding commitments for countries
  • (-) Only objectives for developed countries, with risk of free-riding
  • (-) No enforcement of financial and technology transfer support to developing countries





Five meetings of Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (with a prolonged meeting shortly before UNCED in 1992) Strategy

Process started with focus on procedures, followed by detailed content discussions


INC established by UN

(+) Sufficiently flexible process to accelerate negotiations towards UNCED (-) Two-year process was rather short, so that soon negotiations came under pressure to agree on a deal

Decisive tactics and facilitation

IPCC First Assessment Report 1990—no indication yet of human influence on climate systems, so that influence of report on negotiations was not very strong The adoption of the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities

(+) Agreeing on principles (precautionary actions and common but differentiated responsibilities) enabled all countries to adopt the UNFCCC


Table 3.1 (continued)

Description of negotiations per negotiation factor

Assessment of negotiations per factora

addressed developing countries’ concerns that developed countries should take the lead on emission reduction measures.

The legal status of ‘objectives’ (non-legally binding) for developed countries’ actions to stabilise their greenhouse gas emissions between 1990 and 2000, was sufficiently flexible for developed countries to agree on this

(-) Realisation that it was better to have a weak deal than no deal, resulted in a Convention text that could be supported globally, but which did do little to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the short term

a+ Means that an aspect positively contributed to successful negotiations and negotiation outcome; - Means that the contribution was negative

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