Table of Contents

Research Handbook on Climate Governance

Research Handbook on Climate Governance

Edited by Karin Bäckstrand and Eva Lövbrand

The 2009 United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen is often represented as a watershed in global climate politics, when the diplomatic efforts to negotiate a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol failed and was replaced by a fragmented and decentralized climate governance order. In the post-Copenhagen landscape the top-down universal approach to climate governance has gradually given way to a more complex, hybrid and dispersed political landscape involving multiple actors, arenas and sites. The Handbook contains contributions from more than 50 internationally leading scholars and explores the latest trends and theoretical developments of the climate governance scholarship.

Chapter 9: Climate diplomacy

Radoslav S. Dimitrov

Subjects: environment, climate change, environmental governance and regulation, environmental politics and policy, politics and public policy, environmental governance and regulation


What is the impact of international diplomacy on climate governance? Climate change negotiations have become proverbial for their repeated failure to produce a strong policy agreement. The chapter assesses climate diplomacy from an insider’s perspective and provides an update on political dynamics and recent outcomes. It argues that UNFCCC negotiations have already succeeded in facilitating policy change without formal agreements. Global discussions have affected state behavior and fostered the development of domestic policies even in the absence of a formal treaty. Persuasion and arguments about the economics of climate policy have led to the reconsideration of national interests. The importance of diplomacy is in spreading ideas that alter cost–benefit calculations about climate policy. The conversations during negotiations help explain the proliferation of climate-friendly policies that signal a global ‘Green Shift,’ an economic transition to low-carbon development. Scholars of diplomacy need to recognize the diverse impacts of negotiations on state behavior, apart from treaty-making.

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