The current system of global climate policy coordination is not working with lots of ‘climate talk’ and little ‘climate action’, argue the authors of a new paper out today (9 May 2016).
Authors Robert Keohane of Princeton University and David Victor of the University of California, San Diego, argue in their study which appears in Nature Climate Change, that international action so far has not curbed emissions.
They point out that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the global body behind the Kyoto Protocol and the recent Paris climate agreement, is central to the climate diplomacy process but they suggest it has not been up to the job. “Although there is much optimism about the new Paris accords, so far the UNFCCC has had little real impact on emissions,” they state. “There has been lots of ‘climate talk’ and little ‘climate action’.”
Keohane and Victor suggest that rather than seeking a one-size-fits-all policy approach, what they call “a bold, grand bargain”, supporters of effective climate policy “must figure out how to operate effectively in a polycentric global system”. The current strategy of decentralized policy coordination across many nations will not solve the climate problem, but it could lead incrementally to deeper cooperation, they suggest.
In their paper, entitled “Cooperation and discord in global climate policy”, they argue in favour of a process of the incremental deepening of global policy coordination that can take advantage of disruptive technological advances, particularly in the area of electricity generation.
“Proceeding by small steps to build confidence and generate patterns of reciprocity is not a timid, second-best strategy,” the authors state. “Instead, it is essential, because in world politics authority is divided, national preferences vary and there is pervasive suspicion that states seek self-interested gains at the expense of others.”
Effective mitigation of climate change will require deep international cooperation, which is much more difficult to organize than the shallow coordination observed so far. Assessing the prospects for effective joint action on climate change requires an understanding of both the structure of the climate change problem and national preferences for policy action. Preferences have become clearer in light of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties in December 2015. Although deep cooperation remains elusive, many partial efforts could build confidence and lead to larger cuts in emissions. This strategy of decentralized policy coordination will not solve the climate problem, but it could lead incrementally to deeper cooperation.
Robert O. Keohane and David G. Victor; Cooperation and discord in global climate policy; Nature Climate Change, DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE2937
Nature Climate Change.