The Fragmentation of Global Climate Governance

The Fragmentation of Global Climate Governance

Consequences and Management of Regime Interactions

New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series

Harro van Asselt

‘How do the different international institutions addressing climate change interact? What are the actual and potential synergies and conflicts? What are the most effective strategies to manage institutional interplay? Harro van Asselt’s expertise in both international law and international relations, as well as his intimate knowledge of the policy-making process, make him ideally equipped to address these fundamental questions. Based on detailed case studies, he provides a wide-ranging, lucid, and theoretically sophisticated study of climate change governance. Essential reading for international lawyers and international relations scholars alike.’ – Dan Bodansky, Arizona State University, US

Chapter 2: The evolution of global climate governance

Harro van Asselt

Subjects: environment, climate change, environmental law, environmental politics and policy, law - academic, environmental law, international economic law, trade law, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, international relations


There is a solid scientific basis for international action to mitigate the causes and impacts of climate change. As the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicated, we know with more than 95 per cent certainty that human activities contribute to an increase in the global average temperature. Emissions of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2), provide a major contribution to the warming trend and it is evident that greenhouse gas concentrations are increasing. CO2 concentrations have increased from 280 parts per million (ppm) in pre-industrial timesto over 400 ppm in 2013. CO2 is primarily emitted through the use of fossil fuels, although land-use changes (such as deforestation) also play an important role. Climate science also provides mounting evidence of the impacts of climatic changes. The increasing temperatures are expected to lead to impacts across the globe, some of which will be and are being felt worldwide (e.g., sea level rise) whereas others (e.g., extreme weather events) will vary for different regions. How climate impacts will be felt by humans and ecosystems depends to a large extent on their climate vulnerability and their ability to adapt to climate change. It is clear that many climate impacts are very unevenly distributed, and that the least developed countries are at the same time the most vulnerable and have the lowest capacity to adapt.

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