Research Handbook on Climate Governance
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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.
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Chapter 12: Minilateralism

Jeffrey McGee


The past decade has seen the formation of a number of prominent minilateral climate change forums directed at mitigation. This chapter asks whether these minilateral forums are simply a pragmatic response to a lack of progress within the UN climate process or an expression of wider contestation over equity principles relating to emission reduction commitments of developed and developing countries. Adopting constructivist theory, this chapter finds minilateral forums have provided sites for key developed countries to contest equity principles of the UN climate regime, such as common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR), which are in tension with the currently dominant norms of neoliberal environmental governance. Minilateral forums have therefore been used as part of a strategy by some key developed countries to weaken mitigation commitments in global climate change governance and impede strong implementation of the CBDR principle. This recent history needs to be borne in mind when critically reflecting on the rise in support for minilateral climate forums and also raises significant concerns about future global climate governance if emission reduction and justice are to be taken seriously.

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