Discounting the Future


Many of the possible effects that climate change poses have a temporal component to them: they will be realized and compounded over time.  Thus, the actions and inactions of today’s generation will have significant effects on those that come afterwards.  This compounding effect has a fair amount of consensus among environmental economists; however, there is not consensus on how much we should take those future effects into account during current decision-making processes for policies that might effect climate change.  This disagreement revolves around the discount rate, defined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as the “rate at which society as a whole is willing to trade off present for future benefits.”  Because investment is inherently productive (that is to say, money is interest-bearing), resources on hand today are more valuable than resources available later; the difference in the values placed upon money today and in the future is where the disagreement lies.  

Take, for example, a future benefit of $1000 to be accrued in ten years: how much would I need to put in the bank now in order to have that $1000 at the end of the decade?  At a discount rate of 5%, it would be $613.90; at a discount rate of 8%, it would be lower, at $463.20.  Thus, the higher discount rate signals that society is more focused on present benefits than future benefits.

Let’s look at this in the context of climate change.  As a society, how much are we willing to spend now in order to protect the climate system from further “dangerous anthropogenic interference,” as is the UNFCCC’s stated objective, and to avoid future costs and damages?  At a lower discount rate, we place a higher value upon the maintenance of the climate system and pay a higher premium now in order to protect future generations.  At a higher discount rate, we place a higher value upon the current energy consumption patterns and are not willing to pay as high of a premium.

In Environmental Economics, my “wild-card” elective course for the Mosaic this semester, we discussed the argument that a near-zero discount rate is the most appropriate response to the effects of climate change.  We need to take aggressive action now and invest as much in climate mitigation and adaptation as possible in order to stay below the 2 degree Celsius threshold put forward by the UNFCCC.  If we do not do so, the costs borne upon future generations will be greater, as will the damages and level of disruption to our lifestyle that will occur from climatic change.  A discount that is higher than zero or near-zero could jeopardize the 2 degree threshold, undercut the international negotiations of the UNFCCC, and threaten the generations that will come after us.

How can we decide?


The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) aims to close the gap between emission pledges of countries and the possibility of countries actually having the ability to make the global average temperature to be below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels. In order for this to happen, countries must come to an agreement by getting involved. However, from the start of the UNFCCC negotiations, parties have had a difficult time agreeing on whether to choose a top-down approach or a bottom-up approach.

A top-down approach is more of a contractual approach. Obligations are decided through international negotiations and it is done with targets and timetables. On the other hand, a bottom-up approach is a facilitative approach that lets a country unilaterally decide what they want to do. It is more of a voluntary approach. The bottom-up approach or “facilitative model” of “international agreements starts from what countries are doing on their own, and seeks to find ways to reinforce and encourage these activities. International law can serve a number of catalytic and facilitative functions. Gatherings such as the annual meeting of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties can focus attention, help raise public concern, and prod states to do more” (Bodansky, 2012). This approach displays the work of countries and what they are doing. There is an assessment of the overall effectiveness. Countries that do not have the financial and technological capacities are not singled out. This approach gives them a better chance to allow greater actions to be taken. It allows for flexibility and inclusivity because it does not require a protocol or international legal agreement unlike the top-down approach (Bondansky 2012). An example of the bottom-up approach would be the Copenhagen Accord and Cancún Agreements. It is only partially committed, not legally binded which increases followers. The fact that it is flexible allows a larger amount of countries to agree to follow an agreement because they are getting what they want. “Bottom-up approaches score well in terms of participation and implementation, but low in terms of stringency” (Bodansky, 2012).However, flexibility is an issue because it gives countries a way to do less towards climate change since they decide what they will do.

The Kyoto Protocol is an example of a top-down approach for mitigating climate change negotiations. The issue with this protocol is that developed and developing countries could not come to an agreement when negotiating the protocol. The top-down approach enacts regulations explicitly but has issues with participation and implementation (Bodansky, 2012). The mixed-track approach is a fusion of both top-down and bottom-up approach. However, I believe that the bottom-up approach is the best because it starts at an individual level. It may create a division and that may be a weakness for it but the fact that a country is willing to do something is better than nothing. Arguing to negotiate on climate change will not stop it or reduce it. Taking even the smallest bit of action will. We need implementation and participation as well as fast action by the government to reach the 2020 goals of the ADP.




Work Cited

David Bodansky, “The Durban Platform: Issues and Options for a 2015 Agreement,” Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (2012): 1-11.

Meeting in the middle of Top-Down and Bottom-Up

In the conclusion of The Durban Platform: Issues and Options for a 2015 Agreement, Daniel Bodansky states, “The challenge now is to retain sufficient flexibility to achieve strong participation while also raising ambition—both in terms of legal form and, more importantly, in the collective level of effort” (Bodansky 11) in regards to achieving the best possible post 2020 agreements. Bodansky believes the effectiveness of the outcome will be dependent on stringency, participation, and compliance, (Bodansky) however, this view leaves out other essential themes; accountability, ambition, transparency, and flexibility. The greatest outcome possible will require all of the above. This could be achieved by a “mixed track” approach, meeting exactly in the middle of “top-down” and “bottom-up” approaches.

Daniel Bodansky lists different options for a Durban Platform outcome, each with aspects that may work and others that raise questions. (Bodansky) The outcome of the Durban Platform needs to dive in to a transparent-stringent-internationally-legally-binding approach that must become the norm through raising national accountability and action transparency.

Legally-binding agreements must be set, focusing heavily on the common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDRRC) of different countries; specific emissions reductions strategies and plans need to be set for each country/region. (Bodansky) Although the bottom-up approach may seem “the easiest to achieve politically” (Bodansky 8), it lacks ambition because individual bodies are setting their own actions based on preferences. In order to promote more ambitious action plans, others need to be involved in helping set agreements. If there were a way to physically take every country, in dialogue with each other, and have them set agreements for each one but converse collectively on them, this would be the most ideal situation.

This would require keying in on the CBDRRC aspects in order to promote the most equitable yet stringent plans. (Bodansky) “Countries will be more willing to negotiate commitments if the terms of engagement ensure that both they and their counterparts are negotiating within tracts appropriate to their respective circumstances” (Bodansky 10). The fact that dialogue would be cohesively international, would ensure this and furthermore, would hopefully, raise accountability and increase compliance.

Additionally, mandatory language such as “shall” rather than hortatory language, “should”, needs to be precedent. Plans need to be joint and certain from the beginning, but also allow room for alteration and change in the future, again through open dialogue. (Bodansky)

Picture the practice of any team sport, the coach asks, “Do we want to run today?”. The accountable athlete, who always wants to better themselves, will say yes and the complacent   athlete who does not often push themselves, will say no… In the end, it’s a trick question anyway, and the coach expects everyone to say yes. When you have a cohesive accountable team working towards specific goals, everyone knows to say “yes” because it’s what they have to do to achieve their goals. The unified and liable team, it the team that make it to the play offs.

This is what must happen in climate governance. Communication needs to be open, cooperative, and decisive. Somewhere between the bottom-up and top-down approaches, internationally we must come together to create justifiable expectations. The same way that each individually teammate, plays an essential role in getting to that play-off game. In order to have the best outcome of the Durban Platform, the utmost cooperation and accountability must be present.

Works Cited

Bodansky, Daniel and O’Connor, Sandra Day. “The Durban Platform: Issues and Options for a 2015 Agreement.” December 2012. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. Web.


A bottom up approach with comprehensive stringency policies

The year 2015 marks when people are hoping to have a new grand proposal on emissions reductions and climate change mitigation processes.  When looking at the various designs in which this proposal can take, a bottom-up approach, with emphasis on comprehensive evolutionary stringency policies would allow for strong participation at the onset, flexible requirements early on and a longevity of commitment.

The first key to any policy is to get a lot of participants.  Historically a bottom-up approach achieves this.  Bodansky uses the UNFCCC as an example of a bottom up approach.  The UNFCCC is one of the largest international regimes ever and they accomplished this by having very minimal stringency policies to be more appealing to Nation-states (Bodansky 2).  Climate change is a global issue, and although Nation states come to the negotiation table already knowing what their individual positions are, they are never the less engaged in negotiations and talking to each other.  This in turn helps to create more cooperation and interdependency. If a country reduces emissions in league with other countries, that country will theoretically also receive the benefits of other nations reducing emissions (Bodansky 2).   This can be supported by Peter Wilson’s definition of idealism international relation theory stating it “will empower world public opinion, and make it a powerful force that no government can resist…(Wilson 1).  Oppositely a top-down approach will not do this, because of the low participation aspect of countries.  However, even though a select few could successfully draft a proposal and use their sway to get in accepted a top-down approach does not include the vast majority of the nations.  In order for Climate change to be successfully combated, especially in the long term, all nations need to be a part of the negotiations and have equal stake.

A traditional bottom-up approach would not be feasible in this situation, because of its lack in stringency.  Bodansky explains that for a bottom-up approach to work stringency has to be: “part of an evolutionary framework that leads to greater action later (Bodansky 2).”  The first step is to have low commitments with high participation.  Next there must be a comprehensive timeline of commitment increases up-front.  One of the drawbacks of the Kyoto protocol is possibly that the second commitment period was to steep. Countries, like Canada ratified the protocol and participated but then dropped out as they realized that the emission reductions were to steep.  Similarly Japan and Russia are thinking of doing something very similar.  The stringency policies should be smaller incremental increases, over a longer period of time.  This way, more countries are engaged over longer periods of time, which would lead to lower emissions in the long-term.  Bodansky talks about a variable geometry structure in which countries can pick and choose which instruments to be a part of.  This would work well in conjunction with optional protocols (Bodansky 3).  For example, the MARPOL (International Convention on the Prevention of Pollutants from Ships) has mandatory protocols that deal with higher risk aspects like oil and noxious liquid, while less risk aspects are deemed as optional protocols (Bodansky 4).  If a bottom up approach were created in which, certain emission reductions were considered mandatory, while others were optional, more countries would participate and hopefully stay involved because of the flexibility aspect.


Wilson, Peter  Idealism in international relations: Originally published in Dowding, K., Encyclopedia of power. Thousand Oaks, USA: SAGE Publications, 2011, pp. 332-333.

Bodansky, Daniel and O’Connor, Sandra Day. “The Durban Platform: Issues and Options for a 2015 Agreement.” December 2012. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. Web.


A New Kind of Climate Agreement.



Throughout its history, the UNFCCC negotiations have been struggling to find the right kind of agreement that will have enough stringency in regulating emissions to avoid dangerous warming, participation from many nations involved in the global problem of climate change, and compliance of the pacts agreed upon by the Parties.  The Kyoto Protocol was, for some parties, too contractual of an agreement. The US refused to ratify it, Canada dropped out rather than legally exceed its set emission limits, and Japan and Russia decided not to accept the second commitment period targets. This top-down approach, a focus on the international governance of the UNFCCC, made participation and compliance difficult, and, currently, global emission regulations are not powerful enough to keep us from exceeding a 2ºC warming.


In order to step away from this sort of tactic, the bottom-up agreement reached in Cancun had nations volunteer their own mitigation and adaptation strategies. This resulted in participation among more nations but, because nations had an incentive to underestimate their capabilities, the agreement exudes a lack of ambition.


How can we find the perfect balance of governance that invites widespread participation, strict obedience to the rules, and ambitious guidelines that give this planet a better chance of staying below a 2ºC increase? The planet is warming quickly and many domestic governments do not seem willing to pass stringent emission regulations. It is difficult to enact a stringent climate policy when nations feel there is no reciprocity. At the same time, watering down an agreement so that more people participate is not enough action to stop dangerous global warming.


The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) was established at the Durban Climate Change Conference in 2011. They are working on a protocol or agreement to present at the COP21 in Paris to implement in 2020. They hope for some agreement with legal force and a large impact in preventing dangerous climate change. The ADP needs an agreement with the stringency of a top-down approach with the compliance and participation of a bottom-up method. To do this, the ADP should try both- a mixed track approach.


We do not need everyone to participate, but we do need the largest emitters of greenhouse gases to comply with regulations. In the current political climate, a legally binding emission reduction agreement probably would not pass many nations’ governing bodies. The US Senate, for example, does not seem willing to approve a stringent protocol regarding climate change. Because of the recent recession, many nations are hesitant to enact legislation that may decrease GDP or economic revenue in any way. Some agreement is better than no agreement with these countries. A non-legally binding agreement from the bottom-up will allow big greenhouse gas emitters such as the US and China to get involved in reducing their emissions.    This may be the best we can do with regards to these countries. However, with a mixed track approach, we would not have to let the political failings of a couple large emitting countries hold the rest of the world back. It is foreseeable that the European Union (EU) and other developed nations would pass a legally binding climate agreement. Like the Kyoto Protocol, they could have an emission trading system and more stringent emission caps. As Bodansky and O’Connor point out, “stringency and participation should be seen as dynamic variables.” Hopefully, the US, China, and India can transition into the legally binding agreement with time and become participants in the emissions trading system.


The mixed track approach is the best solution for our current political situation. It is better to include large emitting countries like the US in a voluntary emission reduction program than send an agreement to their Congress knowing it will not pass. For other nations, a stringent global emission policy is necessary in order to prevent catastrophic warming. Ideally, even nations such as China, Brazil, and India may elect to sign onto the legally binding, top-down track. They may find that it is their nation’s best interest to reduce air pollution, increase energy independence, and be perceived favorably by the EU. With a mixed track approach, policy can retain the best aspects of both the bottom-up and top-down approaches. We can enact more stringent policy with select nations while allowing less compliant nations to participate. Many difficulties lay ahead, but trying this approach my make the negotiating efforts of the ADP more effective.


Works Cited:

Bodansky, Daniel and O’Connor, Sandra Day. “The Durban Platform: Issues and Options for a 2015 Agreement.” December 2012. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. Web. file:///C:/Users/Jess/Downloads/03%20Bodansky%202012%20durban-platform-issues-and-options.pdf.


Have your cake and eat it too with the “Mixed-track” Approach


The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) has two objectives taken on by two different workstreams. The goals of the ADP are to develop a new framework that will govern all parties under the UNFCCC by the COP 21 in 2015 and to close the ambition gap by ensuring the highest mitigation efforts by all parties. Keeping in mind the golden number, 2 degrees Celsius, is the limited amount of global temperature rise. The complexities of climate change involve multilevel governance. Finding the best approach towards climate governance is a heavily debated topic, given the difficulty of reaching a global agreement. Two opposing approaches are a top-down approach and a bottom-up approach. These approaches are used to link the economy and greenhouse gas emissions.  Top-down involves a, “contractual approach favoring binding targets and timetables” (Bodansky, 1). While bottom-up involves, “facilitative approach favoring voluntary actions defined unilaterally”(Bodansky, 1). David Bodansky argues that an effective international agreement relies on multiple variables: stringency, participation, and compliance. However, “weakness along any of these three dimensions will undermine an agreement’s effectiveness” (Bodansky, 2). Which is why he argues both models should be merged in order to cumulate an effective agreement.


The Kyoto Protocol was expected to lead a long-term top-down approach for mitigating climate change. Developed and developing countries could not come to a consensus in the negotiation process. Instead, countries have taken on their own climate obligations through a bottom-up approach. The failure of the top-down approach through the Kyoto protocol allowed for alternative approaches to take way, such as the Cancun Agreements.  At Cancun, “the Brazilian government declared it would halt all deforestation in Brazil by 2025” (King, 2011).  A bottom-up approach essentially implements policies at the lowest level of organization. Thus, proposing the idea that action can be taken at every level. There are numerous municipal initiatives and cities that are the centers of innovation for more sustainable practices. While a top-down approach focuses its attention on mitigation, a bottom-up approach concentrates on adaptation and the notion of vulnerability. Local approaches tend to have more short-term results, whereas top-down methods involve long-term impacts.

A hybrid, or “mixed track,” approach will be necessary in order to establish absolute commitments. Both approaches have different strengths and weaknesses, but together the weaknesses are compensated. For example, bottom-up attracts participation and implementation but does not effectively enact regulations. On the other hand, top-down results show the opposite. Mitigation and adaptation are both equally important in combating climate change and can both be reached through a mixed track approach of governance. We must not only rely on global agreement and regulation, but also on local implementations and participation. A legally binding treaty would ensure compliance but in addition we need local projects and governance in order to take fast action. The combination of both top-down and bottom-up approaches will be the most effective route in achieving the post-2020 goals of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform on Enhanced Action.

Works cited

David Bodansky, “The Durban Platform: Issues and Options for a 2015 Agreement,” Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (2012): 1-11.

King, David, and Achim Steiner. “Is a Global Agreement the Only Way to Take Climate Change?” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, n.d. Web.

COP21 calls for Momentous Mixin’

By Elizabeth Plascencia

A chart modeling past and projected climate meeting participation (Photo: Till Neeff, Elsevier, ES & P)
A chart modeling past and projected climate meeting participation (Photo: Till Neeff, Elsevier, ES & P)

A match was lit at COP17 in Durban, South Africa. The supplementary body known as the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) was established that December. The inclusive nature of this platform is proposed to ignite change at COP21 in Paris. The mandate of the ADP calls to “…develop a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties, which is to be completed no later than 2015 in order for it to be adopted at the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) and for it to come into effect and be implemented by 2020” (UNFCCC, 2014). “Bottom-up” and “top-down” are two predominant approaches to climate change policy within the two decades of the work under the Convention. This seemingly urgent call of action as per the ADP requires a symbiotic relationship between the two. A “mixed-track” approach is better suited to achieving the post-2020 goals of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform on Enhanced Action under the balanced dimensions of stringency, compliance, and participation for all Parties.

The international climate regime exhibits both approaches working well independently to a certain extent. Therefore it is proposed that a combination of the two will facilitate a more efficient and effective global combat on climate change by 2020. Within the article The Durban Platform: Issues and Options for a 2015 Agreement, Bodansky clarifies the range of confounding variables to international agreements, historic context relating to the Convention, and options to possible Durban outcomes. I initially gravitated towards the “bottom-up” approach as better suited on the basis of personal optimism regarding local grass-roots movements and voluntary national programs. Upon reading the article I soon realized that there are hard to ignore pros to the “top-down” method and that solely voluntary programs do little when brought in a global context. I found that the policy informs and enforces to a further extent in which “International law can serve a number of catalytic and facilitative functions. Gathering such as the annual meeting of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties can focus attention, help raise public concern, and prod states to do more” (Bodansky, 2012). Legal agreements, legislation, and recommendations remain crucial in terms of maintaining stringency. However, it is important to be mindful of all Parties’ capacity in order to balance compliance and participation.

Working towards the cooperation of 195 countries with distinct agendas and interests may seem like a nearly impossible task but in order to achieve equitable, efficient, and effective international policy a new approach must be considered. A “mixed-track” combining both “top-down” and “bottom-up” approaches is better suited to achieving the post-2020 goals of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform on Enhanced Action under the balanced dimensions of stringency, compliance, and participation for all Parties.

***Check out this article about projections for COP21 in Paris next year:

Works Cited

Bodansky, Daniel. “The Durban Platform: Issues and Options for a 2015 Agreement” Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. 2012

UNFCCC – Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action. “What is ADP?” 2014

UNFCCC – Draft Decision “Establishment of an Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action” 2014

The Best of Both Worlds for 2015

eiffel tower paris

After negotiations floundered at COP15 in Copenhagen to produce a broad-based and aggressive agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, the Durban Platform was created to direct and motivate such an agreement for COP21 in Paris next year. It called for an “agreed outcome with legal force” that falls within the UNFCCC’s framework and principles. David Bodansky stated that, in order for an international agreement to succeed, it has to include three criteria (stringency, participation, and compliance), and outlined possible approaches that could stem from the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP), either a top-down or bottom-up approach. From the information and framings provided by Bodansky, neither option is adequate as a viable solution by itself; rather, a mixed-track approach, which hybridizes both aforementioned approaches, would maximize the criteria and would provide a solid foundation for an international agreement to take effect after 2020.

The top-down approach, which could be seen as a continuation and expansion of what was seen in the Kyoto Protocol, places the main focus of climate governance and negotiations upon the international regime of the UNFCCC and other such institutions. These negotiations would focus upon an overarching emissions reductions target and how to delegate it among the Parties, and would present a take-it-or-leave-it type of agreement; nations would have to agree to the agreement as a whole, and would be legally bound to it and the prescribed actions within it. This, however, scares many nations within the UNFCCC, especially those key to any effective agreement (e.g. the United States, China, India, etc.) and could either jeopardize participation because it’s too stringent or stringency because countries would only sign on to an agreement that was not as aggressive as it could have and/or should have been. While it has produced success in the Kyoto Protocol, there are also hindrances inherently built into the approach that limit its effectiveness.

On the other hand, the Cancun architecture was born in response to the top-down approach taken with the Kyoto Protocol and advocated a bottom-up approach that placed national governments as the vanguards against the effects of climate change. Rather than having the international regime dictate what each country must do, this alternative approach empowers each nation to decide their best way to individually take action in mitigation and adaptation, which builds national buy-in and ownership of the country’s efforts. However, this produces an incentive for a nation to understate their capacity to mitigate/adapt or produce conservative and non-aggressive targets, thus imperiling the ultimate purpose of the UNFCCC to stem warming to two degrees Celsius.

As explained above, both approaches have their strengths and weaknesses, but neither fully maximizes the three criteria that are key to a successful international agreement. Together, however, a viable middle ground could be reached that synthesizes the strengths of both approaches and that fulfills the stringency, participation, and compliance criteria. The bottom-up portion of a mixed-track approach allows countries to make commitments in areas that are both most effective and within its capacity to achieve, producing what Bodansky called a “variable geometry.” It provides enough freedom in action that each nation may find and take the course of action that works best for them, without imposing a one-size-fits-all solution that is unrealistic and incongruent with the political, economic, and developmental realities of a particular nation. Also, it satisfies the voluntary “pledge and renew” actions most nations are now interested in, as flexibility is the new mantra, so to say, of climate negotiations post-Kyoto; participation would be maximized with these types of actions rather than legally-binding commitments because most nations are not willing to take that step, as seen in the Kyoto Protocol. Within this flexible structure, the top-down portion provides enough incentive and enforcement/oversight to motivate aggressive and directed action, essential if the UNFCCC is going to keep warming below the two degree target. Through oversight and recommendations, the international regime can make sure that nations aren’t shirking their “common but differentiated responsibilities” while still motivating each nation to find the best solution that fits within that responsibility and capacity.

An aggressive and broad-based agreement is absolutely essential in order to meet the two degree target set by the UNFCCC at its conception in 1992. The best way to achieve this is not through a single mechanism or approach, or through a small group of nations; a wide array of options and avenues for action is necessary in order to gain the participation of a wide base of countries. Finding the colloquial sweet spot where an agreement is stringent enough to be effective at taking action and meeting the two degree target but not too stringent that there is insufficient participation. Therein lies the challenge for the UNFCCC and its individual member-states, but, with the best of both worlds, success is within our grasp.


David Bodansky, “The Durban Platform: Issues and Options for a 2015 Agreement,” Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (2012): 1-11.

“Preamble,” United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, accessed October 7th, 2014.

Climate Action Network: Progressing Climate Action


The Climate Action Network (CAN) contains over 900 non-governmental organizations (NGO) from more than 100 countries (CAN, 2014A). The CAN’s mission is “to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels…through information exchange and the coordinated development of NGO strategy” (CAN, 2014A). The CAN does an effective job of coordinating NGOs to submit comments to the UNFCCC on a broad range of topics. They are able to successfully orchestrate climate oriented NGOs to advocate for immediate and meaningful climate action as well as the advancement of human rights. By creating a network of organizations around the world, the CAN has been able to affect the negotiation by directly providing inputs on the negotiations through paper submissions, rallying NGOs around common talking points, and by convincing negotiators of their position.

Since its start in 1989, CAN has been part of the climate negotiation process and conversations (Duwe, 2001). Since then, CAN has continuously grown and become one of two lead parties within the ENGOs (Environmental NGOs) (Dryzek and Stevenson, 2014). They have submitted a large range of papers during and after each COP. CAN has several themes in their position statements, which advocate for greater climate action and for upholding human rights (CAN, 2012). Some of their themes include:

  • Strong mitigation measures, including reducing the use of fossil fuels (Voorhar, 2014) and ending subsidies for fossil fuels (CAN, 2009) while increasing investments in renewable energies (CAN, 2014C).
  • Quick action on climate change to keep warming to a minimum (CAN, 2012; CAN, 2014C; CAN, 2013B)
  • Developed countries need to have public financing in place to help promote renewable energy projects for developing countries (CAN, 2014C) such as the Green Climate Fund (CAN, 2014B; CAN, 2011)

These themes are strong positions for climate action and represent the way in which CAN is attempting to project their views and give input on the negotiations.

The CAN has played a crucial role in bringing together voices to push negotiators towards climate action. CAN works extensively with other network NGOs to develop joint positions on relevant issues to present a strong front to the negotiations (CAN, 2013A). The CAN was critical in aligning multiple voices to speak on behalf of ENGOs to push the Kyoto Protocol forward (Dryzek and Stevenson, 2014). The NGOs within CAN helped shape the Kyoto Protocol by persuading the EU to hold their emissions reductions as well persuading the US to be flexible with target-setting (Bulkeley and Newell, 2010). The CAN has been effective within the negotiations because they have been able to unify their network of NGOs under their statements and positions, giving power and voice to the submissions and ideas.

Additionally, the CAN works to promote greater understand of the negotiations for individuals as well as delegates. The Eco-Newsletter, produced by CAN, provides a daily report about what is happen within the negotiations (CAN, 2014C). This allows outsiders to understand what is going on and gain an ENGO perspective into the negotiations. Many delegates will also read Eco-newsletters because they provide a summary of the on going negotiations (Duwe, 2001). Side events, of which CAN is only a small part, further help attendees and developing nations better understand all of the complexities of climate change and the negotiations (Hjerpe and Linnér, 2010). Being part of negotiation education is a crucial role filled by CAN and allows them to be a more effective transnational network by incorporating more people, organizations and ideas.

CAN has not only been successful as a larger organization, but many of the 900 daughter NGOs have helped them succeed in their mission. Yet, that many constituents can lead to a weaker message from the organization due to differing opinions. While that many stakeholders signify power and voice in numbers, they can also present an obstacle to efficient and bold decisions. Additionally, CAN-International is not well funded nor have they historically planned well as an organization, only releasing their first multi-year plan in 2013 (CAN, 2013). By engaging policy makers in the negotiation process, CAN has been able to impact negotiations in advocating for stronger climate action and can continue to improve these efforts with better funding, planning and consensus building.



Bulkeley, Harriet, and Newell, Peter. Governing climate change. Routledge, 2010.

Climate Action Network International. “About CAN” 2014A.

Climate Action Network International. “Eco-newsletters” 2014C.

Climate Action Network International. Adaptation and Loss & Damage Under the ADP. June 2, 2014B.

Climate Action Network International. Annual Report 2013. 2013A.

Climate Action Network International. CAN-I Submission on New Market-based Mechanism. March, 2012.

Climate Action Network International. Climate Action Network – International Submission to Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex 1 Parties under the Kyoto Protocol Regarding Response Measures. April 24, 2009.

Climate Action Network International. Climate Finance under the ADP. June 2, 2014C.

Climate Action Network International. Submission on 2013-2015 Review. April 1, 2013B.

Climate Action Network International. Submission to the Transitional Committee for the Green Climate Fund. July 29, 2011.

Dryzek, John S., and Hayley Stevenson. Democratizing global climate governance. Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Duwe, Matthias. “The climate action network: A glance behind the curtains of a transnational NGO network.” Review of European Community & International Environmental Law 10.2 (2001): 177-189.

Hjerpe, Mattias, and Björn-Ola Linnér. “Functions of COP side-events in climate-change governance.” Climate Policy 10.2 (2010): 167-180.

Voorhar, Ria. Climate Action Network International. Statement on UNSG’s Climate Summit by Climate Action Network and the Global Call for Climate Action. September 23, 2014.

Exploitation At It’s Finest

shopping cart earth
The Full Shopping Cart

Exploitation At It’s Finest

One idea in the passage that does not allow for interpretation is that humankind is exploiting the world for its resources that help us survive, but this exploitation of earth for our needs is coming to an end with global climate change negotiations and adaptations on the rise. Another widely understood component is that climate change has already struck and is striking currently. In addition, the Parties should be preparing for what has yet to come by reducing the triggers of climate change and by cleaning up the damaging effects that it has already caused.

While there are grave and irreparable damages that climate change has and could cause, it is not the reason to stop trying to bring it to a halt. Even the uncertainty of scientific evidence is not a good enough reason. Earth as we know it will soon disappear because of our doings. We are the reason for it being in this state. One just wonders just how the should go about reducing or stopping the effects of climate change. We want to reduce or stop it where we will benefit the most but at the lowest possible cost. Just how will we do it though?

Global benefits are spoken about in the article. However, there is a question of who will ultimately benefit. Will it be the developed or developing nations? Developed nations carry more CO2 emission weight but developing nations carry some too. Developed nations are more powerful though, which may play a role on who benefits more ultimately. Also, there are implications in figuring out a solution to this problem in a cost effective way. Who will figure that out and how will they figure that out? It is still very vague and up in the air. Cost effectiveness is a factor that drives the solution but it’s not the solution as a whole.
Happy Earth Day!