What Might Man-Induced Climate Change Mean? [Excerpt]
Society, Science and Climate Change [Excerpt]
The Cost of Combating Global Warming
Toward a Real Global Warming Treaty
Stick with Kyoto: A Sound Start on Global Warming
What Makes Greenhouse Sense?
What to Do About Climate Change
Copenhagen's Inconvenient Truth
How to Salvage the Climate Conference
The Low-Carbon Diet
How the Market Can Curb Climate Change
Globalizing the Energy Revolution
How to Really Win the Clean-Energy Race
Tough Love for Renewable Energy
Making Wind and Solar Power Affordable
Cleaning Up Coal
From Climate Culprit to Solution
How Big Business Can Save the Climate
Multinational Corporations Can Succeed Where Governments Have Failed
How Washington Can Bolster a Stronger Climate Deal
Why Municipalities Are the Key to Fighting Climate Change
The Geopolitics of the Paris Talks
The Web of Alliances Behind the Climate Deal
The Problem With Climate Catastrophizing
The Case for Calm
Climate Catastrophe Is a Choice
Downplaying the Risk Is the Real Danger
Paris Isn't Burning
Why the Climate Agreement Will Survive Trump
Why Trump Pulled the U.S. Out of the Paris Accord
And What the Consequences Will Be
Trump's Paris Agreement Withdrawal in Context
The Polarization of the Climate Issue Continues
World headlines blare the news that negotiators in Paris have reached a global climate change agreement. Yet underneath the soaring rhetoric were hard politics that can tell a lot about the longevity of the deal.
As the Paris climate negotiations moved toward their final days, delegates’ focus shifted from the technical to the political. The negotiating text had been stripped of its most baroque complications, and what was left reflected core differences among countries.
Navigating this phase of the talks requires an understanding of the shifting alliances among nearly 200 countries, dramatized through the fierce public battles over how to even characterize the talks in Paris. India and South Africa tried to solidify developing country alliances by accusing the United States of undermining the fundamental negotiating principle of equity. The United States and the European Union talked up the emergence of an informal “High Ambition Coalition” among countries spanning the traditional rich-poor divide.
By defining the narrative of the negotiations as a fight for either “climate equity” or “climate ambition,” countries hope to focus political and media pressure on those who, they claim, are blocking progress. This is tactically understandable but obscures what is really going on.
Climate change negotiations are too often described as a kind of environmental cold war between developed and developing countries. But this dynamic has not held for over a decade. The implications of climate change, and its solutions, are too central to countries’ core national interests for them to base their negotiating positions just on some abstract sense of “historic responsibility.” Countries’ interests are likewise too diverse for them to make permanent alliances simply on the basis of levels of per capita income. Oil producers, forested nations, high-tech trading centers, and low-lying or desert countries all have distinct interests to protect.
A better analogy for Paris is major European powers’ alliance building and periodic conflicts in the late nineteenth century. All major powers had a shared interest in maintaining stability, but they struggled to reconcile their
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