The Great Climate Change Endeavour – a global potluck dinner

Det globala knytkalaset

The Paris Climate Change Conference stipulates that all nations shall submit a report to the UN’s climate change panel concerning how they plan to contribute to achieving the joint climate policy goals. This is a kind of global ‘potluck dinner’ where everyone makes their own contribution, on the basis of the particular country’s own preconditions and priorities. The research project’s overarching goal involves comparing the commitment and performance of different states and explaining variations in their contributions to the international climate policy.

What happens with states’ ambitions to work for shared global goals when the international political landscape becomes more deeply split and less dependent on a single agreement? This is a key question for the international climate change negotiations. This no longer involves binding goals and timetables for emission reductions imposed from above, based on allocation principles common to all states. Instead, one can speak about a global potluck dinner where the contribution of states to the international climate collaboration is based on their own assessments of their national capacity as well as the countries’ own preconditions and priorities.

195 countries report what they plan to do

In total, this involves 195 countries reporting their contribution to the new Climate Agreement of 2015. The reports include information on the ambition level for different measures, the choice of policy and policy instrument and institutional priorities where states are concerned. In this research project all these reports are summarised and compared on the basis of a long series of criteria. 

These criteria partly relate to which sectors and type of measures the countries include in their planning. Are they planning for a total transformation of their societies or only phasing out fossil fuels, for example? The nations will also be compared and categorised from the viewpoint of a series of  indicators, such as gross national product (GNP), the human development index (HDI), the level of democracy, the presence of social movements etc.

The purpose is to find possible patterns and connections between countries’ climate policy ambitions and other factors. The project is expected to contribute to the understanding of how domestic factors affect the formation of an international coordination of climate policy as well as how new coalitions are developed in global environmental management. This knowledge becomes important in view of the future scaling up of the 2015 Paris Agreement’s ambitions.

Large volumes of data are made accessible

The project contributes in several ways to environmental research linked to the social sciences. Empirically, there is a compilation of large data volumes of climate policy measures from all countries that have reported to the climate convention in the autumn at the latest.

Studies that compare the climate policies of different nations have so far mainly focused on a limited selection of countries, above all advanced industrial countries. Consequently, the analysis of reported contributions from the Climate Convention’s 195 participating nations becomes an important acquisition. The project will also make new data accessible via the international negotiation barometer – a series of questionnaire surveys, unique in the world, which measure, on an annual basis, the perceptions of different groups engaged in climate policy in respect of current issues.

The project, in methodological terms, contributes through combining questionnaire data with specific information on the political choices and instruments of different states in their reported contributions to the new Climate Agreement. The project thereby has a unique opportunity of identifying and investigating mechanisms which affect how the different states contribute to the creation of a shared global benefit. Several analysis techniques - from cluster analysis and cross-sectional regression models to case studies – will be used to investigate the formation of coalitions or groupings, characterised by the fact that they have similar political priorities as well as strategies for their undertakings and choice of steering instruments.

How the internal processes of states affect international collaboration

Theoretically, the project contributes to the growing literature concerning the role of nations in global environment management through analysing how states’ processes for decision making and the institutional setup affect international collaboration and the handling of collective global benefits. The ambition is to move beyond the division into so-called industrial and developing countries which has so far dominated international climate change policy.

The project brings together the empirical and methodological expertise at the Centre for Climate Science and Policy Research (CSPR) at Linköping University and the theoretical knowledge about comparative environmental policy at the Department of Political Science, Stockholm University. Project’s name: (A global potluck dinner: New patterns in the engagement and performance of states in international climate change collaboration.

Project Leader