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Rethinking cooperation: inequality and consent in international climate change politics.

This article analyzes how low-income state agreement has been produced for contemporary international climate change treaties. These treaties have dramatically weakened the legal framework for action on climate change, with likely unequal impacts in the poorest countries. The case demonstrates that theories of international cooperation are not fully equipped to explain the processes through which low-income states offer their consent to multilateral agreements. This article develops and applies to this case a neoGramscian framework of negotiated consent, which reveals three mechanisms in the production of low-income state consent: material concessions, norm alignment, and structural conditioning. This approach views international cooperation as a process of strategic power relations coconstituted by strong and weak states, in coordination with nonstate actors. As such, it is useful for bridging the agent-structure divide prevalent in cooperation theory and sheds light on the durable nature of inequality in international governance. Keywords: cooperation theory, climate change politics, global environmental inequality.


IT WAS 3 A.M. DURING THE FINAL PLENARY SESSION OF THE UN CLIMATE change negotiations in Copenhagen, 20 December 2009. Ian Fry, the lead delegate of the low-lying island nation of Tuvalu turned on his microphone and exclaimed to Lars Lokke Rasmussen, the Danish prime minister and chair of the proceedings: "It looks like we are being offered 30 pieces of silver to betray our people and our future. Our future is not for sale. I regret to inform you that Tuvalu cannot accept this document." (1)

Fry was furious about what he and many other representatives of developing states considered to be a highly unequal and ineffective framework for addressing climate change in the newly introduced Copenhagen Accord and a decisionmaking process that violated UN procedure.

As part of the accord, developing states deemed particularly vulnerable to the impacts of a changing climate, such as Tuvalu, were being offered promises of dollars--US$30 billion over the coming three years, and $100 billion a year by 2020. Despite these financial promises, delegates of several countries, including Tuvalu, Sudan (on behalf of the Group of 77 [G77]), Venezuela, Cuba, and Bolivia, refused to offer their consent to the accord, and it was not adopted as a legal agreement in Copenhagen.

One year later at the negotiations in Cancun, the tide had dramatically turned. The main content of the Copenhagen Accord was integrated into the Cancun Agreements, which was adopted nearly unanimously. Only Bolivia refused to offer its support. In doing so, the international community set in motion a process, agreed on in Durban by consensus the following year, which would mostly replace the legally binding Kyoto Protocol, with a voluntary "pledge and review" mitigation framework. (2) As currently configured, the new framework will allow a temperature rise above what scientists predict will trigger catastrophic environmental events around the world. (3) This will likely have unequal impacts in the poorest countries, which experience climate-related deaths at a rate of five times the global average in climate-related deaths. (4)

In this article, I ask the following question: why have low-income states agreed to an emissions reduction framework that is both scientifically inadequate and inequitable and which transformed the course of international action on climate change? (5) While numerous studies have focused on the impediments to agreement on international climate policy, to my knowledge, limited attention has been directed toward understanding the seemingly unlikely outcome of 193 states agreeing on a framework that dramatically shifted the content and form of international climate action.

This case informs broader debates on cooperation theory in international politics. I argue that a sophisticated conception is lacking of how weak, vulnerable, or low-income states come to offer their consent, particularly when agreements do not represent their core interests. Scholarship in this area has tended to emphasize structural factors while neglecting agency of actors in conditioning cooperation outcomes, or vice versa.

I develop and apply to this case a neo-Gramscian framework of "negotiated consent," which reveals three main mechanisms in the production of consent: material concessions, norm alignment, and structural conditioning (see Table 1). This framework views international cooperation as a process of "strategic power" relations co-constituted by strong and weak states, in coordination with nonstate actors. As such, it is useful for bridging the agent-structure divide prevalent in cooperation theory. (6)

To analyze this case, I engaged in methods of process tracing and discourse analysis. (7) Data for this article were collected from diverse sources, including official UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) documents, archival video footage of negotiation sessions, academic publications, governmental reports, other official documents, international organizations' papers, press releases, and WikiLeaks documents. I collected interview and observational data at six separate UNFCCC negotiation conferences during the period of December 2009 through December 2014 and at a high-level meeting of officials from Least Developed Countries (LDCs) at the UN in New York in February 2011.1 also draw on informal conversations with numerous delegates and representatives of developed and developing countries, UNFCCC officials, civil society representatives, and academics as well as my experience as a researcher for the LDC Group chair in negotiations in Bonn and Durban in 2011.

The article is organized in four parts. First, I critically engage with relevant literature on cooperation theory and international climate politics. Second, I draw on neo-Gramscian theory to develop a three-part framework for analyzing the politics of consent in multilateralism. Third, I draw on this framework to analyze the processes by which the consent of states particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts has been produced in contemporary international agreements. In Table 2, I categorize and assess the gains by low-income states, and the extent to which gains are consistent with coalition demands. In this way, I offer an approximation of coalition gains in each area ranging from weak to high. In the conclusion, I discuss how these findings inform broader debates on cooperation theory. I argue that this analysis provides insight into the concrete mechanisms by which international inequality is reproduced in multilateralism.

Consent and Cooperation in Multilateralism

The literature on international climate change politics offers important insights into the forces that have shaped the UNFCCC regime. Areas of attention include the processes by which the structural conditions in the global capitalist system have hindered progress in the negotiations (8) and the importance of North-South worldviews, which have been shaped by a historical legacy of structured international inequality in conditioning willingness to participate. (9) Other works focus on the role of domestic politics in shaping participation and nonparticipation in the UNFCCC10 and the role of nonstate actors in international climate politics including civil society," development banks and cities, (12) private sector or elite actors, (13) and transnational advocacy coalitions. (14)

However, the focus of these and other works is largely on factors that have prevented North-South cooperation or have led to comparatively distinct domestic policies. Far less attention has been directed to understanding the processes that have facilitated the seemingly unlikely outcome of 193 countries agreeing on legal frameworks that have major implications for all involved, and potentially devastating impacts for low-income states in particular.

Few articles focus specifically on the engagement of low-income or small states in the contemporary climate change regime. (15) Importantly, to my knowledge there has been no attempt to investigate the particular mechanisms of low-income, vulnerable, or small state consent. This is despite the fact that these states far outnumber wealthy and newly industrialized states in formal votes in the UN climate regime. (16)

This shortcoming in the climate change literature reflects a weakness in the broader international relations and international political economy scholarship, which has often neglected the role of small, weak, and low-income states in various approaches to cooperation theory. Cooperation theory is concerned with the forces that constrain or enable collective action, cooperation, or multilateralism among states. (17) "International cooperation" is defined as "when actors adjust their behavior to the actual or anticipated preferences of others, through a process of policy coordination." (18)

The earliest iterations of cooperation theory by realists viewed international policy coordination as a temporary fleeting phenomena based on military alliances. (19) More contemporary versions of realism acknowledge the durability of international cooperation, but point to power capability differentials as determinants of cooperation in a largely atomistic and anarchic international system. While there is attention to specific mechanisms of compliance, such as the presence of a hegemonic power, (20) the use of side payments, conditional cooperation, (21) and repeated interaction, (22) cooperation of weak states is largely viewed as a product of a lack of material, military, or structural power.

Neoliberal institutionalist and regime theorists, while maintaining realism's focus on power differentials between states, point to the cooperative and mutually beneficial dimensions of multilateralism in terms of increasing absolute, rather than relative, power. (23) From this perspective, powerful states are likely to participate in international institutions and agreements when the perceived benefits outweigh the costs.

This literature highlights the role of nonweighted voting institutions in inflating the influence of weak or low-income states beyond what their power capabilities are outside of such institutions. (24) Others have demonstrated that, in the case of environmental politics in particular, weak states are able to secure resources due to ecological interdependence in a "commons" context and issue-specific power. (25) Scholars in this area also argue that weak states will consent to "bad" regimes, only when more favorable regimes are not in place. (26) While institutionalist theory adds nuance to explaining the durability of international regimes over time, the cooperation of states, portrayed as rational and unitary actors, is still primarily viewed as contingent on structural constraints, with limited empirical and theoretical attention to collective state agency.

Responding to this concern, constructivists and other agency-centered theorists point to the role of ideas, norms, identities, epistemic communities, and nonstate actors in shaping state preferences in international cooperation and enabling social change. (27) Literature in this area shifts attention from predetermined structures and preferences to concepts such as choice, reflexivity, transformative capacity, and learning. (28) Moreover, this scholarship challenges the monolithic portrayal of states as unitary actors, suggests the erosion of authority of nation-states at the international level, highlights the growing intersection between state and nonstate actors and networks, and directs attention to processes of state preference formation, rather than taking such preferences as given.

Studies have revealed the agency of small or low-income states to mitigate their structural disadvantages, including lack of financial and negotiating resources, inability to offer side payments for support, and inability to credibly threaten other states. (29) To do so, strategies are pursued, including: prioritization by focusing scarce resources on shaping particular issue areas while neglecting other issues; coalition building in order to strengthen their representation and facilitate information exchange; (30) and developing ideational resources, using persuasion-based strategies, (31) and translating moral leadership into discursive power. (32)

Overall, these are notable developments in correcting crude forms of structural determinism. However, agency-based perspectives in international cooperation often inaccurately portray structures as epiphenomenal constructs that can be reduced to individuals and their interactions. (33) A focus on the autonomous influence of ideas and agents has sometimes underplayed the ways that ideas are embedded within and constrained by material and institutional structures. (34) Moreover, depictions of social change are often portrayed as a list of successful strategies not grounded in a substantive theory of cooperative action.

In short, a theoretical framework is needed that is empirically attentive to both agency and structure in international cooperation, and specifically directed at uncovering the mechanisms through which weak states come to offer or withhold their consent. I argue that neo-Gramscian scholarship and the concept of negotiated consent grounded in a strategic perspective on power relations, while not fully developed for this purpose, offer strong theoretical and conceptual footing to investigate the processes of cooperation in this case study. In the following section, I develop such a framework.

A Neo-Gramscian Approach to the Politics of Consent

Antonio Gramsci argues that a social class exerts supremacy in two ways: as domination, or rule by coercion, and as intellectual or moral leadership, or rule by hegemony. As the building block of its hegemony, negotiated consent is the process by which the ruling class embeds itself in society, generates an ideological framework capable of achieving consent, and negotiates the conditions of its continued rule. Gramsci says that "the state is the entire complex of practical and theoretical activities with which the ruling class not only justifies and maintains its dominance, but manages to win the active consent of those over whom it rules." (35)

From this perspective, stable rule is contingent not on pure coercion (although coercion is always present in some capacity), but on leadership of a ruling group and the consent of an interclass alliance or historic bloc to the conditions of this rule. Hegemony is never complete and, therefore, the ruling group must continually struggle to earn the consent of the subordinate class.

Various scholars have applied Gramsci's insights to the realm of international relations, (36) and international climate change politics in particular. (37) Notably, Robert Cox argues that "multilateralism," which he defines as encompassing both state and nonstate activities, can be examined from two main standpoints: the institutionalization of established order and the locus of interactions for the transformations of existing order. (38)

Neo-Gramscian scholars of global environmental politics have built from this perspective to develop a strategic conception of power in global governance. As David Levy and David Egan explain, "A strategic conception of power brings attention to the capacity of agents to comprehend social structures and effect change, while simultaneously being constructed and constrained by them." (39) Through this lens, we can understand international regimes as "shaped by micro-processes of bottom-up bargaining and constrained by existing macro-structures of production relations and ideological formations." (40) Such an approach, while not operationalized to analyze the empirical processes of cooperation in international regimes, offers a means to consider both agency and structure in this context.

Through a strategic power lens, I argue that the case of contemporary international climate change negotiations reveals three mechanisms in the production of low-income state consent (as outlined in Table 1). First, redistributive material and institutional concessions from wealthy to low-income states have been instrumental in the negotiation of their consent to contemporary climate change treaties. As I discuss below, wealthy states have made promises of large sums of finance to countries particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts, have developed a new funding institution to more democratically distribute such funds, and have adopted a loss and damage mechanism to respond to climate change impacts that cannot be readily adapted to.

This is representative of Gramsci's assertion that hegemony rests on certain, albeit limited, material concessions to the economic-corporate interests of the subordinate class. Such concessions, which have been largely ignored in the various strains of cooperation theory discussed above, are essential to maintain social cohesion in a class-divided society, giving the appearance that the forms of governance promote the general interest. As Gramsci argues, "The fact of hegemony presupposes that account be taken of the interests and tendencies of the groups over which hegemony is to be exercised, and that a certain compromise equilibrium should be formed--in other words that the leading group should make sacrifices of an economic-corporate kind." (41)

The second, and related, mechanism of consent is that of an ideological and organizational nature. Namely, while material and institutional concessions have been essential to produce low-income state consent, a process of what I call "norm alignment," involving diverse coalitions of state actors in coordination with civil society, has served to generate these concessions and legitimize their acceptance. Norm alignment can be defined as a conflict-ridden and always incomplete process by which states with competing class interests come to some agreement on what are legitimate terms of consent.

This is representative of Gramsci's assertion that while economic concessions are a requirement for the leading class to exercise hegemony, equally important is maintaining an alliance through "cultural, moral and ideological leadership over allied and subordinate groups." (42) As such, "hegemony presupposes that account be taken of the interests and tendencies of the groups over which hegemony is to be exercised." (43) Moreover, from a Gramscian perspective, ideology is not merely a reflection of economic class interest or the economic structure, but rather a terrain of struggle over the terms of legitimate social and political organization. (44)

From this view, policy coordination in multilateralism is not simply an exercise of top-down leadership, bullying, material concessions, or institutional leverage. Rather, it is made possible by what Gramsci refers to as a "war of position"--a tactical struggle by subordinate actors to resist domination through control of culture, ideas, and identities in the realm of civil society. (45) This includes attention to the ways in which certain normative constructs--defined as "collective expectations about proper behavior for a given identity" (46)--emerge as demands in the first place and how such constructs are leveraged, advanced, resisted, and legitimized by competing coalitions. Moreover, this approach is concerned with how elite interests adopt, co-opt, and align such normative constructs with existing hegemonic structures, thereby diffusing radical challenges to power. (47)

Third, while the processes of material concessions and norm alignment direct attention to the agency of low-income states to shape the terms of consent, a neo-Gramscian perspective also points to the ways in which such agency is constrained by historically derived structures of inequality. Various forms of what I call "structural conditioning" have limited the efforts of low-income states to influence climate policy, extract concessions, and withhold their consent. These include historically specific limits to organizing capability, disadvantageous positioning in the global economy, worldviews, ecological conditions, production relations, dependence on specific capital interests, and disproportionate vulnerability to forms of coercion such as bribes, divisive strategies, and threats. Such structural conditioning also limits the ability of low-income states to transform dominant ideological structures and to define the terms of the policy agenda in international governance.

The fact that forms of structural inequality and coercion accompany and coexist with more legitimate means of social control is indeed consistent with Gramsci's theory of hegemony as a synthesis or blend of consent and coercion. (48) This is also consistent with Gramsci's assertion that concessions to the subordinate class do not "touch" certain historically specific "essential" relations of economic activity, which remain firmly off of the negotiating table. (49) As such, contemporary iterations of neo-Gramscian theory point to the need for "the concrete historical study of the emerging world order, in terms of its economic, political, and sociocultural dimensions, with a view to its emerging contradictions, and the limits and possibilities these imply for different collectivities." (50)

Overall, consistent with institutionalist theory, a neo-Gramscian perspective holds that international regimes may produce certain gains for lowincome states not afforded to them outside of such processes. But the framework of negotiated consent that I present here builds on this insight to consider the ways that a dominant class may adapt, within certain structured limits, to accommodate strategic bottom-up challenges through a continual and conflicting negotiation of interests. This is what Gramsci calls an "unstable equilibria" of compromise. (51) I now turn to analysis of the case study to which I apply this framework.

Conflict in Copenhagen

The concepts of "carbon debt," "climate debt," and "ecological debt" were introduced into international climate change politics in the late 1990s by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) such as Christian Aid and Accion Ecologica. (52) These concepts argue that the Global North owes the Global South a climate debt, which is far greater than the current third world financial debt due to its disproportionate use of atmospheric space without payment. (53) In subsequent years, the LDCs, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), the Group of 77 plus China (G-77/China), and a coalition of more than thirty Western NGOs, policy institutes, and think tanks began to aggressively push for remuneration of the ecological and climate debts (54) in addition to calling for wealthy states to take the lead on cutting emissions.

While gaining limited traction on these issue for the first part of the decade, in Bali in 2007 these groups were effective in elevating finance for adaptation to climate change as a core issue in the negotiations and for identifying LDCs, African countries, and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) as those "most vulnerable" to climate change and thus in need of financial assistance. (55) Notably, the Bali Action Plan called for "improved access to adequate, predictable and sustainable financial resources and financial and technical support, and the provision of new and additional resources" for both mitigation and adaptation. (56) The Bali Action Plan also established a new negotiating track to develop a binding mitigation framework to supersede the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period, which was set to expire in 2012.

Building from these gains in Bali, low-income states including LDCs, AOSIS, and Bolivia came into the pivotal negotiations in Copenhagen in 2009 with their own set of ambitious demands. As outlined in Table 2, these included a legally binding treaty that would keep average global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius; $400 billion of "fast-start finance" from wealthy countries to enable those hardest hit by climate change to adapt to its impacts; and an equitable share of the atmosphere to ensure adequate "development rights." (57)

On 9 December 2009, just three days into the negotiations in Copenhagen, a leaked "Danish text" appeared on the website of The Guardian newspaper. The text advocated a new treaty, replacing the Kyoto Protocol, under the UNFCCC, with a new set of obligations to developing countries. The leaked text was largely viewed as representative of developed countries' interests, and not inclusive of the demands of developing countries. (58)

Several developing and low-income country delegates expressed feeling betrayed by the Danish prime minister, who they believed to have abused his role as chair in the negotiations by being partial to the interests and views of developed countries. News of the leaked text encouraged protests among African civil society groups and others in the main hall of the Bella Center where the negotiations were being held. They chanted, "Two degrees is suicide and genocide [for Africa]," referencing the commitment in the document to maintaining the rise of global temperatures to less than an increase of 2 degrees Celsius, when the African, AOSIS, LDC, and G-77 negotiating blocs had advocated a safer 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature limit. (59)

On the final evening of the negotiations, with an unprecedented 115 heads of state and government present, an unlikely alliance of five countries--the United States, China, India, Brazil, and South Africa--secretively met to develop an alternative "Copenhagen Accord" text. Through this process, a new mitigation framework that departed from the legally binding nature of the Kyoto Protocol was introduced as part of a take-it-or-leave-it package tied to unprecedented levels of finance. Importantly, the Copenhagen Accord promised $30 billion for the 2010-2012 fast-start period, and $100 billion a year by 2020 for developing countries. (60)

Moreover, funding for adaptation was to be "prioritized for the most vulnerable developing countries," including African countries, LDCs, and SIDS. The Copenhagen Accord also included a provision for a new Copenhagen Green Fund (later to be called the Green Climate Fund). This echoed low-income countries' demands for recipient country ownership over climate funds, through a centralized fund under the UNFCCC. Several phrases couch these promises, which are largely representative of low-income country demands for finance over the years. (61)

Several low-income state delegates refused to offer their immediate consent to the Copenhagen Accord, citing problems with both the process and content. For example, Sudan's Lumumba Di-Aping said about the funding in the accord: "It is not enough to buy coffins for everyone who will die because of climate change in Africa. I would rather burn myself than accept these peanuts." (62) Many delegates were largely caught off guard that China, India, and the other BASIC countries (Brazil and South Africa), their long-time coalition partners in the G-77, had joined the United States, undermining the democratic basis of the UN with a backroom deal. (63)

The rebellion of outspoken leaders of developing and low-income states in Copenhagen was in the face of public comments made by the lead delegate of the United Kingdom, Ed Milliband, that those in support of the Copenhagen Accord should register their support, "otherwise we won't operationalize the [climate change] funds." (64) It was later revealed in leaked cables that there had also been several covert efforts of developed countries to co-opt low-income states into registering their support for the accord, both during and after the negotiations. In particular, WikiLeaks cables linked the United States with utilizing aid to persuade Ethiopia's prime minister Meles Zenawi, Maldives's ambassador Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed, and representatives of Bolivia, Ecuador, and Saudi Arabia to support the Copenhagen Accord. (65)

Zenawi's role was especially important since he was the only representative of Africa in the group of twenty-eight countries who were shown the Copenhagen Accord before it was made public. Zenawi caused quite a stir during the second week in Copenhagen when, under allegations that he was receiving humanitarian and military aid for his cooperation, (66) he announced in a joint press conference full agreement with France and other developed countries. (67) He said, "On almost all of the issues, I was preaching to the converted ... and therefore, in a very brief period, we have come on almost every issue to a complete understanding of each other's position, and in support of each other's position." (68)

The announced plan contradicted demands on mitigation and finance held by the African, LDC, and AOSIS negotiating blocs. As the key representative in the meeting of twenty-eight countries in the African Union, many felt that Zenawi's announcement drove an important wedge into the more ambitious demands of low-income states. (69)

Later, in the spring of 2010, the United States would announce that $5.5 million in climate aid was officially cut to Bolivia and Ecuador because of their continued opposition to the Copenhagen Accord. (70) Kate Horner of Friends of the Earth said, "The US is acting like a bully, strong-arming the most vulnerable countries to get them to sign onto an ineffective and unfair deal that will not move the world closer to a just climate agreement." (71) As one African delegate explained, "The pressure to back the west has been intense.... It was done at a very high level and nothing was written down. It was made very clear by the EU, UK, France and the US that if they did not back them then they would suffer." (72)

Wealthy states also made other efforts to build strategic allies with low-income states, thus dividing coalition opposition. According to a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, European Union (EU) climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard reportedly told the US deputy special envoy for climate change, Jonathan Pershing, that "the AOSIS 'could be our best allies' given their need for financing." (73) The insinuation was that AOSIS countries might be able to be bought off from the rest of the G-77 group with finance, and thereby endorse US positions in the negotiations. It was later revealed in 2014 that the United States had engaged in spying to monitor communications between key countries in the Copenhagen negotiations. (74)

However, despite the efforts of powerful states to accommodate, bribe, threaten, and divide the interests of low-income states, due to the vocal opposition of various delegates and an atmosphere of confusion the accord was not adopted as a "decision" of the Conference of Parties at Copenhagen, but rather was merely taken "note of." (75) This meant that the accord at the time of adoption was not a legally binding agreement.

Having failed to get the accord adopted as a decision, the United States then pushed for it to be adopted as a "plurilateral agreement." In this way, members could agree to take part in the accord on a voluntary basis, in contrast to a multilateral agreement. Thus, the United States encouraged all countries to commit their support to the agreement in the coming year. This practice, several delegates argued, was a violation of institutional codes of practice in the UNFCCC. (76) Through this strategy, the United States sought to provide momentum to demonstrate heading into Cancun that there was broad support for the accord. (77)

Concessions and Consent in Cancun

At least 141 countries, representing 87 percent of global emissions, indicated willingness to associate with the accord just months after Copenhagen. (78) Despite not having legal status, with the strong showing of support it seemed increasingly unlikely that states opposed would be able to shift the negotiations in a different direction in Cancun. This was buttressed by extensive efforts at diplomacy by the Mexican hosts working to establish common expectations among delegates prior to the conference. During the lead-up to the negotiations in Cancun, only eight countries, representing just 2.09 percent of global emissions, officially expressed that they were not willing to ratify the accord. (79)

The mood in Cancun was much more conciliatory than that in Copenhagen. While not neglecting the issue of mitigation altogether, low-income states focused much of their attention on securing climate finance on the terms established in the accord, which was viewed as an easier task to accomplish. (80) This included a focus on initiating a Green Climate Fund, establishing an Adaptation Framework, and holding wealthy countries accountable for each particular clause related to finance in the accord. It was the first time that such commitments had been in writing and with numbers attached, and low-income states along with civil society actors were eager to hold the EU, the United States, Canada, and others to their promises.

In December 2011, the main content of the Copenhagen Accord was then integrated into the Cancun Agreements, which received almost unanimous support from rich and poor countries alike. This included the voluntary "pledge and review" framework introduced in Copenhagen. All but Bolivia, who adamantly opposed the agreements as lacking even basic conditions of justice, conceded this as a necessary step. The institutional procedures themselves regarding consensus were reinterpreted when Bolivia objected to the Cancun Agreements. The president of the Conference of Parties, Patricia Espinosa, declared that "the rule of consensus doesn't mean unanimity." (81) As a result, the talks came to an end with a new set of agreements that did not include Bolivia's demands.

Despite the immense inadequacy of the mitigation framework adopted, the media and mainstream green groups largely celebrated Cancun as a great success in diplomacy and compromise. (82) The outrage in Copenhagen had been largely forgotten or glossed over, with many participants feeling cautiously hopeful that the UNFCCC had survived to fight another day.

Having agreed in Cancun to a text with high levels of ambiguity--most notably that it left the door open for a "legally binding outcome in the future"--many of the conflict-ridden decisions were pushed to the following year in Durban. (83)

Delay in Durban

For most of the two weeks of the negotiations the next year in Durban, the main discussions focused on the potential for a new mitigation agreement. The LDCs and AOSIS called for parties to commit to a second Kyoto commitment period. The LDCs also continued to demand improved levels of climate finance, particularly for adaptation, which they asserted were far below what was promised in Copenhagen and Cancun. Despite evidence to the contrary, (84) several wealthy countries maintained that they were meeting their finance promises. Several argued that their own efforts should be particularly commended in the context of a struggling economy. (85)

Leading up to the final days of the negotiations, the outcome in Durban was entirely unclear. The only certainty was that the United States had not wavered in its support of a voluntary, nonbinding framework. A new coalition had formed during the meeting between the EU, the LDCs, and AOSIS. Despite US objections, this "Durban Alliance" fought to keep language for a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol in what would become the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action. (86)

The victory of this coalition in the end was arguably more symbolic than substantive. Only the EU and three other actors, with a combined 15 percent of global emissions, would commit to legally binding emissions cuts in the interim period under the aegis of the Kyoto Protocol. (87) The strength of this alliance was that it mobilized the countries seen as most vulnerable to climate change--the LDCs and SIDS--with the actor that had committed to the most ambitious action to address climate change--the EU.

Crucially, agreement on the details of such a measure was pushed off until 2015, and the commencement of implementation was pushed to 2020. This represented an eight-year period of institutionalized inaction for many of the world's biggest polluters. The Durban Platform for Enhanced Action notes the goal of keeping global average temperature rise "to 1.5 or 2 degrees C" above preindustrial levels, and notes that current commitments are insufficient for reaching that goal. (88) However, the large delay in action makes it highly unlikely that such a target will be met.

Despite the inadequacy of the Durban Platform for addressing climate change, the ambiguous terms of a path forward, and the inequitable impacts that will result, full consensus among country delegates was reached. Rather than the UNFCCC completely falling apart as some anticipated, the climate regime was able to maintain stability, and not a single low-income state objected.

Waiting in Doha, Warsaw, and Lima

Consensus among states was achieved again in Doha in 2012, Warsaw in 2013, and Lima in 2014. Doha represented the end of the fast-start finance period, and NGOs such as Oxfam pointed to a "climate fiscal cliff," with few new financial commitments being made to support vulnerable countries. The negotiations in Doha took place immediately following massive Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines, which caused the deaths of more than 1,000 people. The lead delegate of the Philippines, Naderev Sano, famously gave a powerful speech to broad applause, calling for more ambitious action on climate change, arguing, "If not us, then who? If not now, then when?" (89)

In this context, Doha saw the emergence of a strong coalition of civil society and low-income states making demands for a "loss and damage mechanism" (90) to provide compensation for extreme and slow-onset climate disasters that could not be readily adapted to. After achieving language in the agreements in Doha for the creation of such a mechanism, and with limited progress being made on the issue of mitigation, low-income states and civil society made this issue a primary focus in the negotiations in Warsaw. Wealthy countries demonstrated very limited consideration of scaling up finance for adaptation, the voluntary pledge and review approach to mitigation became increasingly institutionalized (with the newly termed "intended nationally determined commitments" [INDCs]), (91) and the Philippines experienced yet another severe climate-related event just prior to the negotiations. This time, Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 6,000 people.

In this context, the LDCs, AOSIS, and other coalitions such as the Central American Integration System (SICA) made explicit statements that they would not consent to any agreement that did not provide a new loss and damage mechanism. (92) However, the United States, Australia, and Canada pushed back strongly against the demand for a separate mechanism for loss and damage, arguing that such issues could be dealt with under existing adaptation institutional arrangements. In response to overall weak progress in the negotiations, many civil society groups staged a walkout on the second-to-last day of the negotiations.

In the end, a deal was unanimously agreed to in Warsaw that, while doing little to move the negotiations forward on the issue of mitigation, did establish a new international loss and damage mechanism under the Cancun Adaptation Framework. However, the text is ambiguously worded with no indication that developed countries should be liable to pay into this mechanism in relation to their historical emissions. (93)

The main negotiations then moved to Lima, where a draft mitigation framework was sought in time to generate the necessary foundation for a treaty in Paris in 2015. When the penultimate draft was presented on the final morning, the room was divided, largely along old North-South divisions, with primarily developing countries as the actors that rejected the agreement as utterly unacceptable. (94) Only a small group of developing-country actors voiced their support of the text, expressing the urgency of achieving an agreement in Lima. Most prominent among this group were delegates from a few small island states, including the Marshall Islands and the Cook Islands and members of the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC). (95)

Later that evening, the Peruvian president of the meeting, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, announced the new final draft. He gave parties an hour to review the text, which included several new paragraphs sought by developing countries, with numerous other provisions still missing or omitted. (96) All 194 states present accepted the final text, officially called the Lima Call for Climate Action, many with lukewarm support. (97)

The new text clarified that the work under the new agreement would be guided by the long-established principles of the convention (presumably, including those associated with equity, precautionary action, and fair burden sharing). Importantly, the new text added urgency, noting with grave concern the significant gap between the aggregate emission pledges by parties and what is needed in order to have a likely chance of holding the increase in global average temperatures below 2[degrees]C or 1.5[degrees]C. The new text also clarified that LDCs and small-island developing states have special circumstances with regard to mitigation commitments. The agreement confirmed that all nations will submit reports on their INDCs, which broke a long-standing divide that, historically, only wealthy nations were responsible to reduce their emissions.

There are many weak areas of the text. Perhaps most important, there is a general lack of commitment during the pre-2020 period, when scaling-up mitigation action is essential. Moreover, despite language that "urges developed country Parties to provide and mobilize support for ambitious mitigation and adaptation actions, especially to Parties that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change," there was no inclusion of concrete pledges in public funding support for developing nations to reduce their emissions and to prepare for future climate-related disasters. There is no indication of how that funding will be generated. Rather, the fight for adequate funding was pushed down the road to the pivotal negotiations in Paris in 2015.

In addition, there is nothing in the agreement to advance the loss and damage mechanism so desperately desired by developing countries (the words "loss and damage" were in fact completely deleted in the final text). This is another issue that will be central in the Paris negotiations. Most crucial, the whole process is now about voluntary pledges by nations, not any rational sharing of the remaining available "atmospheric space" before we irreparably destabilize the climate. In February 2015, another round of negotiations in Geneva produced agreement on an eighty-six-page draft text to serve as the basis for negotiation in Paris later in the year. There remained hundreds of brackets throughout the text, indicating different options yet to be agreed upon. (98)

What Explains Low-income State Consent?

A 2011 report found that developing countries' mitigation commitments that came out of Cancun actually far exceeded that of developed countries. (99) This raises the question: why did low-income and other developing states that had been opposed to the Copenhagen Accord shift their position to embrace a new deal with essentially the same approach to mitigating climate change in Cancun, Durban, and Lima? Why would small-island states like Tuvalu and Maldives and LDCs like Sudan and Gambia embrace a framework that could leave their countries ravaged by rising seas, drought, and other climate-change impacts? The popular explanation is that consensus resulted from expert diplomacy carried out by the presidency and secretariat of the negotiations in Cancun. While this indeed played an important role in achieving norm alignment, as I have outlined above, my analysis more broadly points to three distinct mechanisms that were pivotal in the negotiation of consent.

First, low-income state consent has been contingent on the provision of strategic material and institutional concessions by wealthy states framed as rightful governance. The Copenhagen Accord, which represented a dramatic weakening of existing international climate change regulation, included numerous promises for material and institutional support for states particularly vulnerable to the impacts of a changing climate. Consenting to the terms of the accord presented the promise of new and perhaps unprecedented financial benefits for low-income states. This reflects a core contribution of Gramscian political theory: hegemony is dependent on redistributive sacrifices of an economic-corporate kind that promote social cohesion in a class-divided society.

Second, I have shown that such concessions have functioned as more than merely top-down bribes, what are called side payments by realists. While side payments, bribes, and other forms of coercion have been prevalent, the effectiveness of promises of climate finance in building consensus has largely depended on the legitimacy of the concession of climate finance within the political community. As such, the negotiations have been marked by a contentious process of norm alignment, through what Gramsci calls a war of position, by which states with competing class interests and group identities have come to some agreement on what are deemed legitimate terms of consent.

In this case, concessions have been a direct strategic response to the long-term collective organizing and framing of demands by low-income state coalitions in coordination with civil society. As shown in Table 2, climate finance was presented in the Copenhagen Accord and then in the Cancun Agreements in terms that closely mirrored the demands of low-income state coalitions, particularly those that had effectively developed an identity of vulnerability.

Moreover, the subsequent organizing and framing by various coalitions have been essential to the legitimation of such concessions. After a rejection of the Copenhagen Accord by key states, during the following year in Cancun the concessions in the agreement were no longer portrayed by lowincome state delegates as a bribe of thirty pieces of silver, but rather as a legitimate program for international financial support for adaptation. While many low-income state delegates continued to prioritize and express great frustration on issues of mitigation, adaptation increasingly became a core focus, as did eventually loss and damage. (100) In the end, the concessions of adaptation finance, and later the loss and damage mechanism, despite ambiguous terms, were embraced by weak and strong states alike as core areas of progress in the negotiations.

A process of constructive ambiguity, I argue, has served to enable norm alignment. For wealthy states, the ambiguous terms of the agreement text on both mitigation and finance issues have provided a means to enhance the legitimacy of the post-Copenhagen regime while providing plenty of wiggle room to shirk future finance and mitigation responsibilities. For low-income states, though they would have preferred more concrete promises, the ambiguous terms have provided a foundation to make future claims around rightful practices. Thus, the biggest conflicts were pushed ahead to be resolved in Paris in 2015 and beyond.

Overall, despite the promises made in Copenhagen and Cancun, low-income states have since been only moderately successful in influencing donor countries to adopt their interpretation of the key phrases related to climate finance. (101) However, it is clear that they have had some influence: by leveraging the identity of vulnerability, low-income state delegates have influenced how materially rich countries have framed and, in some cases acted on, material and institutional concessions. The very fact that wealthy countries are continually compelled to justify their behavior in the negotiations in these terms speaks to the influence that low-income states and civil society has had on the process.

Third, I argue that the negotiation of low-income state consent has been intimately tied to structural conditioning and strategic coercion. As I have discussed, vocal opposition to the accord in the months following the Copenhagen negotiations came with the potential consequence of cuts in international aid. Conversely, consenting to the terms of the accord presented the promise of new financial benefits, perhaps particularly persuasive from the perspectives of heads of state and treasury ministers back home in debt-ridden states, who did not yet view climate change as a primary concern at the level of economic development.

In terms of economic power, low-income states are heavily dependent on trade with the North. (102) They have been hard hit by the recent global economic recession, (103) and suffer from "double exposure" to economic harm and climate change disasters. (104) Trade dependency, vulnerability to external shock, and the heightened need for development assistance due to a global recession that had taken root left low-income states particularly vulnerable to diplomatic pressure in Cancun.

Additionally, a fragmentation of the South identity in global politics has also inhibited the possibility of strong and unified class-based demands such as those advanced during the 1970s as part of the New International Economic Order. In particular, the G-77 negotiating bloc, while still active, has increasingly come to represent subgroups with divergent class interests. (105)

While there were clear divisions growing for years, the unity of the G-77 was further compromised in Copenhagen when the G-77's largest actors, the BASIC countries, joined with the United States in drafting the Copenhagen Accord. By doing this, the accord came to represent not merely a US or Northern betrayal of the Kyoto Protocol--but rather the fragmentation of a South-South agreement on a path forward. This not only weakened the practical task for low-income states to cohesively organize against this new arrangement of interests, but also further disrupted the long-held identity in climate politics of South solidarity in relation to the North. An additional wedge in solidarity among low-income states was fostered by competition over designations of vulnerability deemed critical for accessing scarce adaptation funds. (106)

A related structural constraint has been inequality in capacity between states in the formal negotiating process. Despite having consensus-based voting structures in the UNFCCC, low-income states are overwhelmingly outmatched in terms of financial resources, political influence, and negotiating capacity. (107) And since Copenhagen, exclusive green room meetings that bring together select negotiators that wield particular influence have been utilized, further exacerbating divisions in decisionmaking power.

Ironically, another structural weakness relates to low levels of climate pollution emitted by low-income states. The forty-eight LDCs, for example, account for less than 1 percent of cumulative global carbon dioxide emissions. (108) Due to the fact that these countries are insignificant contributors to climate change, they have low "polluter power" (109) to either leave the regime without dire consequence, or address the problem on their own. This weakens their ability to withhold consent and has led to their exclusion in certain crucial negotiations concerning mitigation action.

Given that there is little that low-emitting countries can do on their own to mitigate climate change, yet they are disproportionately impacted, it is not surprising that they were reluctant in Cancun to obstruct, or walk away from, the UNFCCC process. With the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol set to expire in 2012, low-income states, lacking key resources and forms of political leverage, were presented with a choice to decide between a new and inadequate mitigation framework or no international mitigation framework at all. Rejecting the agreements in Cancun, Durban, and Lima would have been tantamount to accepting an international system without rules governing behavior on climate change.


My purpose in this article has been to develop a theoretical framework to examine low-income state consent to contemporary international climate-change agreements. I have drawn on neo-Gramscian theory to employ a strategic view of power in the processes of negotiated consent. This approach makes an important contribution to cooperation theory, which has failed to adequately account for the interaction between agency and structure in international governance, and the specific mechanisms of lowincome state consent. I have identified three particular mechanisms in the strategic negotiation of consent: material concessions, norm alignment, and structural conditioning.

As institutionalist theory would suggest, the eventual consent of low-income states reflects the reality that, for weak actors, "bad rules that are universally acknowledged are better than no rules." (110) However, I have shown that the politics of consent and cooperation are more complex than institutionalists lead us to believe and necessitate empirical attention to the specific forms of agency by low-income states. Importantly, a strategic view of power reveals that the terms of consent have been largely influenced and legitimized by low-income state coalitions wielding identities related to vulnerability, and these states have achieved important gains in the process.

Understanding how the politics of consent unfolds empirically in multilateral contexts also offers a window into how more radical confrontations to power are diverted, co-opted, fragmented, and accommodated. As this case reveals, low-income states have been strategically compelled by wealthy states to accept ambiguous promises for concessions in return for their consent to a largely gutted mitigation framework. As Cox argues, "Hegemony is like a pillow: it absorbs blows and sooner or later the would be assailant will find it comfortable to rest on." (111)

Overall, my analysis suggests that the process of international cooperation is dynamic, contentious, co-constitutive, and historically contingent. As Levy and Egan argue, "Capital's international hegemony is not uncontested in the international sphere; rather, it secures legitimacy and consent through a process of compromise and accommodation that reflects specific historical conditions." (112) This supports Gramsci's core insight that hegemonic resiliency rests not in its rigid and unresponsive structures of domination, but rather in the adaptability of lead actors to make certain accommodations to those that they profess to lead.


David Ciplet is a doctoral candidate in sociology at Brown University. His research focuses on issues of power, inequality, and social change in governance of global climate change. He is lead author of "Contesting Climate Injustice" and "The Politics of International Climate Adaptation Funding" in Global Environmental Politics. He is also lead author, with Timmons Roberts and Mizan Khan, of Power in a Warming World: The New Global Politics of Climate Change and the Remaking of Environmental Inequality, forthcoming from MIT Press.

(1.) ABC News, "Future Not for Sale: Climate Deal Rejected," 19 December 2009.

(2.) The Kyoto Protocol is not completely defunct; the second commitment period of the protocol, agreed to in Doha in 2012, covers a handful of developed countries whose share of total world greenhouse gas emissions is less than 15 percent.

(3.) Current pledges are estimated to lead to a global average of 4.5 degrees Celsius of warming. Climate Interactive, "The Climate Scoreboard: Update," 19 April 2013,

(4.) David Ciplet, Timmons Roberts, Pa Ousman, Achala Abeysinghe, Alexis Durand, Daniel Kopin, Olivia Santiago, Keith Madden, and Sophie Purdom, "A Burden to Share? Addressing Unequal Climate Impacts in the Least Developed Countries" (London: International Institute for Environment and Development, 2013).

(5.) By low-income states, I refer in general terms to the broad class of states that function at the periphery of the global economy. This does not include newly industrialized states or emerging economies. My focus in this article is largely on the engagement of low-income state coalitions such as the Least Developed Countries group and Alliance of Small Island States. I recognize that there is great diversity in positions both within such coalitions and between actors within individual states themselves. However, given the broad scope of this article and focus on diverse political processes and outcomes, I devote limited attention to intracoalition and intrastate politics.

(6.) See Kate O'Neill, Jorg Balsiger, and Stacy D. VanDeveer, "Actors, Norms, and Impact: Recent International Cooperation Theory and the Influence of the Agent-Structure Debate," Annual Review of Political Science 7 (2004): 149-175.

(7.) Alexander L. George and Andrew Bennet, Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005).

(8.) Peter Newell and Matthew Paterson, Climate Capitalism: Global Warming and the Transformation of the Global Economy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

(9.) Timmons Roberts and Bradley Parks, A Climate of Injustice (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2006).

(10.) K. Harrison and L. M. I. Sundstrom, Global Commons, Domestic Decisions: The Comparative Politics of Climate Change (Cambridge: MIT

Press, 2010).

(11.) See Patrick Bond, The Politics of Climate Justice (London: Verso; Pietermaritzburg: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2011); P. Newell, "Climate for Change? Civil Society and the Politics of Global Warming," in Centre for Civil Society and Centre for the Study of Global Governance, ed., Global Civil Society Yearbook (London: Sage, 2005), pp. 90-120; Michele M. Betsill and Elisabeth Corell, "NGO Influence in International Environmental Negotiations: A Framework for Analysis," Global Environmental Politics 1, no. 4 (2001): 65-85.

(12.) Harriet Bulkeley and Peter Newell, Governing Climate Change (London: Routledge, 2010).

(13.) See David Levy, "Business and the Evolution of the Climate Regime: The Dynamics of Corporate Strategies," in David Levy and Peter Newell, eds., The Business of Global Environmental Governance (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005), pp. 73-104; David Levy and Peter Newell, "Business Strategy and International Environmental Governance: Toward a Neo-Gramscian Synthesis," Global Environmental Politics 2, no. 4 (2002): 84-101.

(14.) See Jonas Meckling, Carbon Coalitions: Business, Climate Politics, and the Rise of Emissions Trading (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2011).

(15.) Exceptions include Mary Jo Larson, "Low-power Contributions in Multilateral Negotiations: A Framework Analysis," Negotiation Journal 19, no. 2 (2003): 133-149; Nicole Deitelhoff and Linda Wallbott, "Beyond Soft Balancing: Small States and Coalition-building in the ICC and Climate Negotiations," Cambridge Review of International Affairs 25, no. 3 (2012): 345-366; Carola Betzold, "'Borrowing' Power to Influence International Negotiations: AOSIS in the Climate Change Regime, 1990-1997" Politics 30, no. 3 (2010): 131-148.

(16.) The Least Developed Countries alone represent forty-eight states.

(17.) For an overview, see O'Neill, Balsiger, and VanDeveer, "Actors, Norms, and Impact."

(18.) Charles Lindblom, The Intelligence of Democracy (New York: Free Press, 1965), p. 227.

(19.) See Kenneth Waltz, Theory of International Relations (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1979); John J. Mearsheimer, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (New York: Norton, 2001).

(20.) See Duncan Snidal, "The Limits of Hegemonic Stability Theory," International Organization 39, no. 4 (1985).

(21.) See Robert Axelrod, "The Emergence of Cooperation Among Egoists," American Political Science Review 75, no. 2 (1981): 306-318.

(22.) See David Kreps, Paul Milgrom, John Roberts, and Robert Wilson, "Rational Cooperation in the Finitely Repeated Prisoners' Dilemma," Journal of Economic Theory 27, no. 2 (1982): 245-252; Kenneth A. Oye, Cooperation Under Anarchy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986).

(23.) See Robert Keohane, "The Demand for International Regimes," International Organization 36, no. 2 (1982): 325-355.

(24.) See Stephen D. Krasner, Structural Conflict: The Third World Against Global Liberalism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985).

(25.) See Marian Miller, The Third World in Global Environmental Politics (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1995).

(26.) Kenneth Shadlen, "Patents and Pills, Power and Procedure: The North-South Politics of Public Health in the WTO," Studies in Comparative International Development 39, no. 3 (2004): 76-108.

(27.) See Martha Finnemore and Kathryn Sikkink, "International Norm Dynamics and Political Change," International Organization 52, no. 4 (1998): 887-917.

(28.) O'Neill, Balsiger, and VanDeveer, "Actors, Norms, and Impact."

(29.) Diana Panke, "Dwarfs in International Negotiations: How Small States Make Their Voices Heard," Cambridge Review of International Affairs 25, no. 3 (2012): 313-328.

(30.) Annika Bjorkdahl, "Norm Advocacy: A Small State Strategy to Influence the E U Journal of European Public Policy 15, no. 1 (2008): 135-154.

(31.) Panke, "Dwarfs in International Negotiations."

(32.) Nicole Deitelhoff and Linda Wallbott, "Beyond Soft Balancing: Small States and Coalition-building in the ICC and Climate Negotiations," Cambridge Review of International Affairs 25, no. 3 (2012): 345-366.

(33.) O'Neill, Balsiger, and VanDeveer, "Actors, Norms, and Impact."

(34.) M. N. Barnett and R. Duvall, Power in Global Governance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

(35.) Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks (New York: International Publishers, [2012] 1971), p. 244.

(36.) See Robert Cox, "Gramsci, Hegemony and International Relations: An Essay in Method," Cambridge Studies in International Relations 26 (1993): 49; Stephen Gill, "Globalization, Market Civilization, and Disciplinary Neoliberalism," Globalization, Critical Concepts in Sociology 2 (2003): 256-281; Craig Murphy, "Understanding IR: Understanding Gramsci," Review of International Studies 24, no. 3 (1998): 417-425.

(37.) See Levy, "Business and the Evolution of the Climate Regime"; Bulkeley and Newell, Governing Climate Change; Chukwumerije Okereke, Harriet Bulkeley, and Heike Schroeder, "Conceptualizing Climate Governance Beyond the International Regime," Global Environmental Politics 9, no. 1 (2009): 58-78.

(38.) Robert Cox, "Multilateralism and World Order," Review of International Studies 18, no. 2 (1992): 163.

(39.) David Levy and Daniel Egan, "A Neo-Gramscian Approach to Corporate Political Power," Journal of Management Studies 40, no. 4 (2003): 803-829.

(40.) Levy and Newell, "Business Strategy and International Environmental Governance."

(41.) Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, p. 161.

(42.) D. Forgacs, The Antonio Gramsci Reader (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 2000), pp. 422-423.

(43.) Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, p. 161.

(44.) Chantal Mouffe, Hegemony, Radical Democracy and the Political (London: Routledge, 2013), p. 36.

(45.) Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, p. 235.

(46.) Finnemore and Sikkink, "International Norm Dynamics," p. 891.

(47.) What Gramsci termed a process of "trasformismo." Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, p. 58.

(48.) For example, see Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, p. 80 (footnote): "The normal exercise of hegemony on the now classical terrain of a parliamentary regime is characterized by a combination of force and consent which form variable equilibria, without force ever prevailing too much over consent."

(49.) Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, p. 161.

(50.) Stephen Gill, ed., Gramsci, Historical Materialism and International Relations (Cambridge: University of Cambridge, 1993). p. 16.

(51.) Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, p. 182.

(52.) For example, Christian Aid, "Who Owes Who: Climate Change, Debt, Equity and Survival," 1999,

(53.) Joan Martinez-Alier, The Environmentalism of the Poor: A Study of Ecological Conflicts and Valuation (Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 2002).

(54.) Timmons Roberts and Bradley Parks, "Ecologically Unequal Exchange, Ecological Debt, and Climate Justice: The History and Implications of Three Related Ideas for a New Social Movement," International Journal of Comparative Sociology 50, no. 3-4 (2009): 385-409.

(55.) Note that other countries excluded from this designation, such as Guatemala, Colombia, Bolivia, and Pakistan, have opposed this category, see David Ciplet, Timmons Roberts, and Mizan Khan, "The Politics of International Climate Adaptation Funding: Divisions in the Greenhouse," Global Environmental Politics 13, no. 1 (2013): 49-68.

(56.) UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, "Decision CP.13 le(i)," 13/eng/06a01.pdf#page=3.

(57.) See Alliance of Small Island States, "Proposal by the Alliance of Small Island Developing States (AOSIS) for the Survival of the Kyoto Protocol," December 2009,; African Group Proposal, "Submission on the Outcome of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action Under the Convention Under Item 3," 12 December 2009, http://unfccc .int/files/kyoto_protocol/application/pdf/algeriaafricanl 11209.pdf; Bolivia, "Bolivia Proposal 13 Dec 2009," 13 December 2009, /application/pdf/bolivia141209.pdf.

(58.) Third World Network, "Copenhagen Accord Fails to Deliver, Say Some SIDS and LDC Leaders," 10 December 2009.

(59.) Ibid.

(60.) UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, "The Copenhagen Accord," 2009.

(61.) David Ciplet, Spencer Fields, Keith Madden, Mizan Khan, and Timmons Roberts, "The Eight Unmet Promises of Fast-start Climate Finance" (London: International Institute for Environment and Development, 2012).

(62.) "Presenting HT's Stars of the Summit," Hindustan Times, 17 December 2009.

(63.) LDC delegates, interviewed by the author, December 2010 and December 2011, Cancun, Mexico, and Durban, South Africa, respectively.

(64.) Third World Network, "Copenhagen Ends by Only 'Noting' an Accord After Much Wrangling," 20 December 2009.

(65.) "US Embassy Cables: US Urges Ethiopia to Back Copenhagen Climate Accord," The Guardian, 2 February 2010; "US Embassy Cables: Maldives Tout $50 Million Climate Projects to US," The Guardian, 3 December 2010; "Leaked Cables Show US Pressured Saudis to Accept Copenhagen Accord," New York Times, 30 November 2010.

(66.) LDC delegates, interviewed by the author, December 2010 and December 2011, Cancun, Mexico, and Durban, South Africa, respectively.

(67.) "Zenawi Out on His Own in Africa," TerraViva, 17 December 2009.

(68.) Sarkozy-Zenawi press conference video, 16 December 2009, video/7053/Joint-Press-Conference-by-Ethiopian-PM-Meles-Zenawi-- French-President-Nicolas-Sarkozy--Dec-15-2009.

(69.) LDC delegates, interviewed by the author, December 2010 and December 2011, Cancun, Mexico, and Durban, South Africa, respectively.

(70.) "US Denies Climate Aid to Countries Opposing Copenhagen Accord," The Guardian, 9 April 2010.

(71.) "US Cancels Climate Aid to Bolivia, Ecuador over Copenhagen Opposition," Democracy Now! 12 April 2010.

(72.) "Climate Aid Threat to Countries That Refuse to Back Copenhagen Accord," The Guardian, 10 April 2010.

(73.) "WikiLeaks Cables Reveal How US Manipulate Climate Accord," The Guardian, 3 December 2010.

(74.) "Snowden Revelations of NSA Spying on Copenhagen," The Guardian, 30 January 2014.

(75.) UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, "Decision 2/CP.15," 2009, p. 4,

(76.) Third World Network, "Attempts to Make the Copenhagen Accord a "Plurilateral Agreement," 21 December 2009.

(77.) The United States set a target of 100-150 signatories. "WikiLeaks Cables."

(78.) US Climate Action Network, "Who's On Board with the Copenhagen Accord?" 21 January 2010, -commitments.

(79.) Ibid.

(80.) LDC delegates, interviewed by the author, December 2010 and December 2011, Cancun, Mexico, and Durban, South Africa, respectively.

(81.) Reuters, "Climate Talks End with Modest Deal and Standing Ovation," 11 December 2010.

(82.) For example, "Climate Change: A Surprising Success," The Economist, 11 December 2010.

(83.) UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, "The Cancun Agreements," 2010.

(84.) David Ciplet, Timmons Roberts, Mizan Khan, Linlang He, and Spencer Fields, "Adaptation Finance: How Can Durban Deliver on Past Promises?" (London: International Institute for Environment and Development, 2011).

(85.) Panel Discussion of Key Donors including representatives from the United States, Japan, European Union, Canada, and Australia, Durban, South Africa, 6 December 2011.

(86.) See The Guardian, "Durban Climate Talks: Friday as It Happened," 9 December 2011.

(87.) UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

(88.) UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, "Establishment of an Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action," 2011, l/copl7/eng/09a01.pdf.

(89.) See video at The Guardian, "Philippines Negotiator Makes Emotional Plea at Doha Climate Talks: Video," 2012, /2012/dec/06/philippines-negotiator-emotional-plea-doha-climate-talks-video.

(90.) Originally introduced in the Cancun Adaptation Framework.

(91.) UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, "Decision 1/CP. 19, Further Advancing the Durban Platform," 2013.

(92.) For example, statements made during SICA side event, 23 November 2013.

(93.) UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, "Decision 2/CP.19," 2013, 19/eng/10a01.pdf.

(94.) UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, "ADP Text December 13," 2014.

(95.) Author observations in UNFCCC plenary, 13 December 2014; also see Federico Broccheri, "ADP Text: Who's In Favour, Who's Against," Twitter, 13 December 2014,

(96.) See Adopt a Negotiator, "The Ultimate Guide for Lima's Final ADP," 2014,

(97.) UN and Climate Change, "Lima Conference Paves the Way Toward a Climate Agreement in Paris," 14 December 2014.

(98.) UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, "Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action: Work of the Contact Group on Item 3," 2015.

(99.) S. Kartha and P. Erickson, "Comparison of Annex 1 and Non-Annex 1 Pledges Under the Cancun Agreements" (Stockholm: Stockholm Environment Institute, 2011).

(100.) Ciplet, Roberts, and Khan, "The Politics of International Climate Adaptation Funding."

(101.) Ibid.

(102.) M. Jansen, "Income Volatility in Small and Developing Economies: Export Concentration Matters" (Geneva, Switzerland: World Trade Organization, 2009).

(103.) D. Bhattacharya and S. Dasgupta, "Global Financial and Economic Crisis: Exploring the Resilience of the Least Developed Countries," Journal of International Development 24, no. 6 (2012): 673-685.

(104.) Bhattacharya and Dasgupta, "Global Financial and Economic Crisis."

(105.) Antto Vihma, Yakob Mulegetta, and Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen, "Negotiating Solidarity? The G77 Through the Prism of Climate Change Negotiations," Global Change, Peace and Security 23, no. 3 (2011): 315-334.

(106.) Ciplet, Roberts, and Khan, "The Politics of International Climate Adaptation Funding."

(107.) J. Gupta, "North-South Aspects of the Climate Change Issue: Towards a Negotiating Theory and Strategy for Developing Countries," International Journal of Sustainable Development 3, no. 2 (2000): 115-135; Unfairplay, "Leveling the Playing Field: A Report to the UNFCCC on Negotiating Capacity and Access to Information," 6 December 2010.

(108.) LDCs account for only .34 percent of cumulative global carbon dioxide emissions excluding land-use change and forestry from 1850 to 2011. Data compiled with World Resources Institute's "Climate Analysis Indicators Tool," Washington, DC, 2015,

(109.) Mizan R. Khan, Toward a Binding Climate Change Adaptation Regime: A Proposed Framework (London: Routledge, 2014).

(110.) Shadlen, "Patents and Pills," p. 81.

(111.) R. Cox, "Gramsci, Hegemony and International Relations: An Essay in Method," Millennium: Journal of International Studies 12, no. 2 (1983): 162-175.

(112.) David Levy and Daniel Egan, "Capital Contests: National and Transnational Channels of Corporate Influence on the Climate Change Negotiations," Politics and Society 26 (1998): 339.

Table 1 Mechanisms of Negotiated Consent

Mechanism         Function                Gramscian Concepts

Material and      Redistributive         "Sacrifices of an
institutional     sacrifices of an       economic-corporate
concessions       economic-corporate     kind" (Gramsci
                  kind, which promote    [2012] 1971: 161)
                  social cohesion in a
                  society, giving the
                  appearance that the
                  forms of governance
                  promote the general

Norm alignment    Conflict-ridden and    War of position
                  always incomplete      (Gramsci [2012] 1971
                  processes by which     235); unstable
                  states with            equilibria (Gramsci
                  competing class        [2012] 1971: 182)
                  interests, in
                  coordination with
                  nonstate actors,
                  come to agree on
                  what are socially
                  sanctioned and
                  legitimate terms of

Structural        Historically           "Essential"
conditioning      conditioned            relations of
                  constraints on         economic activity
                  efforts to influence   (Gramsci [2012]
                  policy, extract        1971: 161);
                  concessions, and       trasformismo
                  withhold consent       (Gramsci [2012]
                                         1971: 58' economic,
                                         political, and
                                         dimensions of world
                                         order (Gill 1993:

Sources: Stephen Gill, ed. Gramsci, Historical Materialism,
and International Relations (Cam-bridge: University of
Cambridge, 1993); A. Gramsci, Selections from the Prison
Notebooks (New York: International Publishers, [2012] 1971).

Table 2 Have Low-income State Demands Been Met?

Issue Area        Low-income        Language in       Degree to Which
                  State Demands     Copenhagen        Commitments
                  (2009             Accord and        Have Been Met
                  Submissions to    Cancun
                  UNFCCC) (a)       Agreements

Equitable         "Recognizing      "We should        Weak: A 2011
sharing of        also the just,    cooperate in      meta-analysis
atmospheric       fair and          achieving the     report finds
space and         equitable right   peaking of        that developing
rights to         of developing     global and        country
development       country Parties   national          mitigation
                  in particular     emissions as      commitments
                  Africa to         soon as           coming out of
                  achieve           possible,         Cancun far
                  development       recognizing       exceeded that
                  making use of     that the time     of developed
                  the atmospheric   frame for         countries (b)
                  space"            peaking will be
                  (Africa);         longer in
                  "emissions        developing
                  reductions        countries and
                  focused on the    bearing in mind
                  equitable         that social and
                  allocation of     economic
                  the global        development and
                  atmospheric       poverty
                  space ... and     eradication are
                  the need of       the first and
                  developing        overriding
                  countries to      priorities of
                  achieve their     developing
                  first and         countries";
                  overriding        "take action to
                  priorities of     meet this
                  economic and      objective
                  social            consistent with
                  development and   science and on
                  poverty           the basis of
                  eradication"      equity"

Mitigation        "Limit global     "Stabilize        Weak: Current
action            average           greenhouse gas    emissions
                  temperatures to   concentration     pledges are
                  well below 1.5    in the            estimated to
                  degrees Celsius   atmosphere at a   lead to 4.5
                  above pre-        level that        degrees Celsius
                  industrial        would prevent     global average
                  levels"           dangerous         temperature
                  (AOSIS); "well    anthropogenic     change; a new
                  below 350 parts   interference      mitigation
                  per million of    with the          approach will
                  carbon dioxide    climate system;   be decided on
                  equivalent"       we shall,         in 2015, based
                  (AOSIS); "all     recognizing the   on a voluntary,
                  Annex I Parties   scientific view   rather than
                  to the            that the          top-down
                  Convention        increase in       approach
                  shall.. .         global            ("intended
                  undertake         temperature       nationally
                  ambitious         should be below   determined
                  national          2 degrees         contributions")
                  economy-wide      Celsius, on the   (c); Cs and AOSIS,
                  binding targets   basis of equity   along with the
                  for quantified    and in the        European Union,
                  emission          context of        pushed through
                  reduction         sustainable       a second
                  commitments of    development,      commitment
                  at least 45% of   enhance our       period for the
                  the 1990 levels   long-term         Kyoto Protocol
                  by 2020 and       cooperative       for select
                  adopt policies    action to         actors
                  and actions       combat climate    representing 15
                  accordingly to    change"           percent of
                  achieve these                       global
                  targets"                            emissions

Adequate          Five percent of   "The collective   Moderate: $33
climate finance   GNP of            commitment by     billion
                  developed         developing        committed to
                  country parties   countries is to   developing
                  (Africa); $400    provide new and   countries
                  billion in        additional        during the
                  public finances   resources ...     fast-start
                  for fast-track    approaching USD   period is
                  financing         30 billion for    greater than
                  (Africa); $150    the period        previous
                  billion of        2010-2012 ...     allocations. (d)
                  Special Drawing   developed         However,
                  Rights by the     countries         estimates are
                  International     commit to a       that less than
                  Monetary Fund     goal of           a third of
                  for this          mobilizing        fast-start
                  purpose           jointly USD 100   finance was new
                  (Africa);         billion dollars   and additional
                  "grant-based,     a year by 2020    to existing aid
                  long-term and     to address the    commitments (e)
                  over and above    needs of          financial
                  existing          developing        promises made
                  official          countries";       do not have a
                  development       "adequate,"       clear
                  assistance        "new and          relationship
                  commitments"      additional,"      with developing
                  (Africa);         "predictable,"    countries'
                  "additional to    "scaled up" and   needs; no
                  and different     "transparent"     clarity on what
                  from the ODA"                       proportion of
                  (AOSIS and                          funding will be
                  Africa);                            publicly raised
                  "parties agree                      as compared to
                  to provide                          privately
                  financial and                       raised, or
                  technological                       grants as
                  support ... in                      compared to
                  a transparent,                      loans
                  sustainable and
                  manner, with
                  direct access,
                  under the
                  guidance of the
                  Conference of
                  the Parties"

Adaptation        "At least 50%     "Balanced         Moderate:
support           will be for       between           Between 20
                  adaptation        mitigation and    percent and 22
                  activities in     adaptation"       percent of
                  developing                          climate finance
                  country                             has been
                  Parties"                            reported as
                  (Africa); "new,                     allocated to
                  substantial and                     adaptation;
                  sustained                           this is hardly
                  public funding                      "balanced"; the
                  [for                                share of
                  adaptation]                         adaptation
                  from developed                      finance
                  countries, with                     increased
                  an annual scale                     modestly after
                  not less than                       the first year
                  2.5% of the GNP                     of the fast-
                  of developed                        start period (f);
                  countries"                          the Cancun
                  (Africa);                           Adaptation
                  "provision of                       Framework was
                  financial                           established in
                  resources by                        2010; this was
                  developed                           instrumental in
                  countries                           deciding two
                  equivalent to                       years later to
                  at least 3% of                      establish
                  their GNP"                          institutional
                  (Bolivia)                           arrangements to
                                                      address "loss
                                                      and damage
                                                      associated with
                                                      climate change"

Multilateral      "Developing       "New              Moderate: Green
fund              countries,        multilateral      Climate Fund
                  especially the    funding for       created with a
                  particularly      adaptation"       board with
                  vulnerable        will be           equal
                  developing        delivered         representation
                  countries,        through "a        of developing
                  shall be          governance        and developed
                  provided with     structure         countries; $10
                  the necessary     providing for     billion pledged
                  financial,        equal             to the Green
                  technological     representation    Climate Fund
                  and capacity      of developed      over a four-
                  building          and developing    year period (g);
                  support by        countries" and    the World Bank
                  developed         a "significant    will serve as
                  country Parties   portion of such   the interim
                  through the       funding should    trustee,
                  Multilateral      flow through      despite
                  Fund on Climate   the Copenhagen    developing
                  Change (MFCC)"    Green Climate     country
                  (AOSIS); "the     Fund"             objection; only
                  Executive Board                     2 percent of
                  shall have an                       all climate
                  equitable and                       funds channeled
                  balanced                            through UNFCCC
                  representation"                     and Kyoto
                  (AOSIS)                             Protocol
                                                      funds (h)

Fair allocation   "[An adaptation   "Funding for      Weak:
of funds          framework]        adaptation will   Adaptation
                  shall enhance     be prioritized    funds are not
                  and support       for the most      systematically
                  adaptation to     vulnerable        allocated
                  climate change    developing        according to
                  in all            countries, such   designations of
                  developing        as the least      vulnerability
                  country Parties   developed         (i)
                  and in            countries,
                  particular        small island
                  African           developing
                  countries,        States and
                  Least Developed   Africa"
                  Countries and
                  Small Island

Notes: (a.) Alliance of Small Island States, "Proposal by the
Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) for the Survival of
the Kyoto Protocol," December 2009,
klima/c15aosis.pdf; African Group Proposal, "Submission on
the Outcome of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term
Cooperative Action Under the Convention Under Item 3," 12
December 2009,
application/pdf/algeriaafrican 111209.pdf; Bolivia, "Bolivia
Proposal 13 Dec 2009," 13 December 2009, https:// /application/pdf/

(b.) S. Kartha and P. Erickson, "Comparison of Annex 1 and
Non-Annex 1 Pledges Under the Cancun Agreements" (Stockholm:
Stockholm Environment Institute, 2011).

(c). United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,
"Decisions Adopted by the Conference of the Parties,
Decision 1/CP.20 Lima Call for Climate Action," 2014,

(d.) David Ciplet, Spencer Fields, Keith Madden. Mizan Khan,
and Timmons Roberts, "The Eight Unmet Promises of Fast-Start
Climate Finance" (London: International Institute for
Environment and Development, 2012); also see Barbara
Buchner, Martin Stadelmann, Jane Wilkinson, Federico Mazza,
Anja Rosenberg, and Dario Abrams kiehn, "The Global Landscape
of Climate Finance 2014" (Venice, Italy: Climate Policy
Initiative, 2014). Buchner et al. estimate that in 2013
there was $5-11 billion in official development assistance
committed from developed to developing countries for climate

(e.) Oxfam Media Advisory, "The Climate 'Fiscal Cliff': An
Evaluation of Fast Start Finance and Lessons for the
Future," 25 November 2012,

(f.) Ciplet, Fields, Madden, Khan, and Roberts, "The Eight
Unmet Promises of Fast-Start Climate Finance."

(g.) UN and Climate Change, "Green Climate Fund Exceeds
Initial Capitalization Target of $10 Billion," 10 December
12/green-climate-fund-surpasses- 10-billion-goal.

(h.) David Ciplet, Timmons Roberts, Mizan Khan, Spencer
Fields, and Keith Madden, "Least Developed, Most Vulnerable:
Have Climate Finance Promises Been Fulfilled for the LDCs?"
(Oxford: European Capacity Building Initiative, 2013).

(i.) David Ciplet, Timmons Roberts, and Mizan Khan, "The
Politics of International Climate Adaptation Funding:
Divisions in the Greenhouse," Global Environmental Politics
13, no. 1 (2013): 49-68.

UNFCCC, UN Framework Convention for Climate Change. AOSIS,
Alliance of Small Island States. GNP, gross national
product. ODA, official development assistance. LDCs, Least
Developed Countries. USD is US dollar.
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Author:Ciplet, David
Publication:Global Governance
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Date:Apr 1, 2015
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