Perfect Chair: Goldilocks; as the Mixed Track Approach: COP20

Global Climate Change is a multi-faceted problem resulting in 20 years of relatively stagnant climate change negotiations. The past negotiations have failed to ratify a climate change agreement that involves all the nation- state actors. The involvement of all nation-states is necessary to achieve the goal of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, which is closing the gap between the countries’ emission pledges and the actuality of countries ability to reach the global average temperature to be below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels.  Hence to achieve global involvement and to attain the necessary mitigation goals, alternative negotiations from the “top-bottom” approach may offer a better solution. The “mixed-track” approach is the most effective method of achieving the post-2020 goals of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action for it incorporates successful aspects of the “top-bottom” and “bottom-up” approaches, but also resolves the issues that both approaches pose.

Neither the “top-down” nor the “bottom-up” approaches allow for completely successful climate change negotiations. One issue with the “top-down” approach is that it has led to a division between developed and developing nation-states, which has made negotiations tense.  This divide has become a wall due to most climate policy’s constant incorporation of the CBDR principle (Kallbekken 2014).  The CBDR policy and changed dynamics between the developed and developing countries should be altered because these nation-states situations have changed and climate change’s current state requires global participation. Another reason why the “top-down” approach has failed in the past is because nation-state’s participation is voluntary and also there is  “no enforcement machinery” despite being “under international law” (Bodansky 2012).  The Kyoto Protocol operated under these standards and its “failure” was highlighted due to the withdrawals of the United States, Canada, Russia and Japan. Although the Kyoto Protocol had its disadvantages, it was a major milestone for it provided a framework that was accepted around the globe.  If the future negotiations can generate this same global participation, it could lead to the achievement of the Ad Hoc’s goals for 2020.

Similar to the “bottom-up” approach, the “top-down” approach has its strengths and weaknesses. Compared to the “top-down” approach, it has improved international relations for it acts across boarders and has found commonality among nation-states basis.  Since private and public transnational networks play such a large role in the negotiations, they should be integrated into the decision-making process.  Another strength is that it allows for flexibility and inclusivity for it does not require a protocol or international legal agreement (Bondansky 2012). An example of the “bottom-up” approach was the Copenhagen Accord and Cancún Agreements, which operate at a national level and are only partially committed, not legally binded. The flexibility of the agreement generates greater public approval of an agreement, since it does not necessarily have negative effects if the nation-state deviates from the agreement.  However, this flexibility is also the downfall of this approach for it gives states too much freedom in which they could lessen their responsibilities towards climate change.

The “mixed track” approach adds upon “top-down”’ approach’s successful aspect, but also incorporates the “bottom-up”’ approach’s alternative mechanisms. The “mixed track” approach gives a role to both international and national regime, since they both have been effective in different mechanisms. The “mixed track” positive aspects consist of: legal agreement with some binding and non binding component, variable structure incorporating national and international regimes, multiple types of commitments and mixed mitigation process (Bodansky 2012). Hopefully, the “mixed track” approach would encourage the necessary qualities in decision making , which are “tringency, participation and compliance” .


Bodansky, D., 2012. The Durban Platform: Issues and Options for a 2015 Agreement.
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES). Analysis of President Bush’s Climate Change Plan. February, 2002.

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