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Edited by Peter Dauvergne
Chapter 6: The Politics of Persuasion: UN Climate Change Negotiations
6 The politics of persuasion: UN climate change negotiations Radoslav Dimitrov1 Friends, I do not ask my country or any country to suspend national interest but to advance it more intelligently. For nothing matters more to any nation’s interest than the fate of the only world we have. … To the developing world I say: the technology now exists to gain the dividends of a high-growth economy without incurring the damage of a high-carbon economy.2 What do governments say to each other during negotiations? Global environmental politics feature a high number of multilateral conferences in which countries negotiate collective policy responses to various ecological problems. Governments have held at least 78 global multilateral environmental conferences in addition to regional meetings and bilateral communication across borders.3 These conversations regularly produce policy agreements to combat ecological problems, including some of the strongest policy regimes in global governance. In the process of these interactions, countries occasionally reconsider their national interests and change their positions. This chapter examines argumentation and techniques of persuasion in global environmental negotiations. It explores the micro-dynamics of international climate negotiations and the actual communicative exchange. Documenting the argumentation offered by delegations in support of their positions allows us to uncover the foundations of negotiating strategies and clarify how actors seek to persuade others. Preliminary findings presented here are based on participatory observation of UN climate negotiations between 2007 and 2010, interviews with negotiators and policy-makers, and document analysis of official delegation statements.4 My research assistants and I attended 12 negotiation...
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