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Agreement, significance, and understandings of historical responsibility in climate change negotiations
2015 (English)In: Climate Policy, ISSN 1469-3062, E-ISSN 1752-7457, Vol. 15, no 3, 302-320 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
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Abstract [en]

For over 20 years, Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change have struggled with the normative significance of history for the differentiation of responsibilities. Negotiations on 'historical responsibility' have been marked by considerable conflict between developed and developing countries. However, in 2010, the Parties acknowledged the concept in a consensus decision. This article analyses UN Climate Change Conference delegates' agreement with the decision, whether it reconciled conflict between interpretations of historical responsibility, and the significance that delegates ascribe to the decision for future agreements. The decision has not eliminated conflict between different interpretations. Delegates who understand historical responsibility as linking countries' historical contributions to climate change to their responsibilities to act agree more with the decision and foresee it having a stronger influence on future agreements than do those viewing the concept in more conceptual terms. The decision marks the start of negotiations concerning how rather than whether historical responsibility should guide operative text. This article demonstrates that (1) the divergent interpretations pose clear challenges for a necessary but demanding agreement on operationalization, and (2) focusing on an ambiguous version of proportionality between contribution to change and responsibility can become a first step for convergence between divergent positions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 15, no 3, 302-320 p.
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Climate Research
Research subject
Climate
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URN: urn:nbn:se:smhi:diva-1997DOI: 10.1080/14693062.2014.916598ISI: 000352898400002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:smhi-1997DiVA: diva2:924260
Available from: 2016-04-28 Created: 2016-03-03 Last updated: 2016-06-15Bibliographically approved

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