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 44: Multilateralism in crisis?

Robyn Eckersley


This chapter examines the question of whether climate multilateralism is facing a legitimacy crisis. Drawing on a constructivist sociological understanding of legitimacy it argues that a crisis of legitimacy is a critical turning point whereby support for the climate regime, or a set of negotiations under the regime, by a critical mass of states threatens to erode to the point where disempowerment will ensue unless corrective action is taken across any or all of the dimensions of input, output and outcome legitimacy. It shows that the parties have managed to avert crises in the climate negotiations by lowering expectations, avoiding principled commitments and introducing greater flexibility and creative ambiguity in texts and decisions. It concludes that while disempowerment of the climate regime has so far been averted in ways that have kept the parties at the negotiation table, this may not be sufficient to avert a real world climate crisis.

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