The Politics of Climate Change Negotiations

The Politics of Climate Change Negotiations

Strategies and Variables in Prolonged International Negotiations

New Horizons in Environmental Politics series

Christian Downie

The Politics of Climate Change Negotiations describes the successes and failures of long international negotiations and most importantly, examines the lessons they hold for the future.

Chapter 5: From Kyoto to The Hague 1998-2000: shifting political dynamics and a question of ratification

Christian Downie

Subjects: environment, climate change, environmental politics and policy, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, international relations


COP 6 began in The Hague on 13 November, 2000. With 182 governments, 323 intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations, and 443 media outlets in attendance, some 7,000 individuals converged on the Dutch capital (Earth Negotiations Bulletin, 2000). Many hoped it would put the finishing touches on the Kyoto Protocol in preparation for ratification. However, in the months before the summit the sheer complexity of this task became apparent. Three sets of issues were under contention. The first was developing country commitments. Since developing countries had successfully opposed the inclusion of voluntary commitments (so-called Article 10) at Kyoto, the US had renewed its efforts to have them included. Two months before The Hague, Frank Loy, the lead US negotiator, urged parties to ëestablish mechanisms that enable developing countries to voluntarily limit their emissionsí (Loy, 2000). While the EU was not strictly opposed, developing countries remained vociferous in their opposition to any commitments (Earth Negotiations Bulletin, 2000). The second set of issues was flexibility mechanisms. Article 6.1 of the Kyoto Protocol stated that the use of flexibility mechanisms ëshall be supplemental to domestic actions for the purposes of meeting [Kyoto] commitmentsí (UNFCCC, 1997a). In preparation for The Hague the EU called for a 50 per cent ceiling on the use of flexibility mechanisms in the first commitment period. The US was strongly opposed to any specific cap on the use of flexibility mechanisms and they were supported by other developed countries including Australia and Canada.

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