GIGA Focus International Edition English

Collective Self-Blockade? Why the UN Climate Conference in Paris Could Fail

Nummer 4 | 2015 | ISSN: 2196-3940

  • On 19 and 20 April 2015, the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate took place in Washington, DC. Industrialised countries and emerging economies are meeting in multiple forums this year to explore their positions in advance of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December.


    The preparations for an effective global climate change agreement at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015 are proving to be difficult. While the BRICS states, the United States, and the EU are verbally proclaiming their commitment, they often impede themselves as a group due to national interests. Against this backdrop, it is necessary to consider alternatives to a global but weak climate change agreement.

    • Of the key countries and groups, only the EU, the United States, and Russia have submitted their intended nationally determined contributions to climate protection to the United Nations. The political approach taken by the emerging economies is being influenced by international expectations and national constellations.

    • Due to their internal preferences, neither the United States nor China are interested in a strong, obligatory climate agreement at the global level. This makes a global consensus unlikely. Bilateral, public–private, and market-based solutions are easier to implement politically than a new global agreement.

    • The renewed failure to reach a global climate agreement could lead to other options for action. Repeated and complicated negotiations at the global level will certainly not bring about the changes necessary to reach the 2°C goal on time.

    • Three scenarios for the future are possible: The chaotic and multi-stakeholder international politics of climate change will continue. Climate clubs made up of key emitters will become trailblazers and will impose sanctions on non-members. A citizens’ climate politics in the sense of the “Copenhagen Theory of Change” will supplement or replace the great transformation from above.

    • The EU and Germany could use meetings such as the G7 or the Major Economies Forum to discuss the potential of climate clubs and could set the latter in motion should the UN Climate Conference in Paris fail.



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      Das German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA) – Leibniz-Institut für Globale und Regionale Studien in Hamburg gibt Focus-Reihen zu Afrika, Asien, Lateinamerika, Nahost und zu globalen Fragen heraus. Der GIGA Focus wird vom GIGA redaktionell gestaltet. Die vertretenen Auffassungen stellen die der Autorinnen und Autoren und nicht unbedingt die des Instituts dar. Die Verfassenden sind für den Inhalt ihrer Beiträge verantwortlich. Irrtümer und Auslassungen bleiben vorbehalten. Das GIGA und die Autorinnen und Autoren haften nicht für Richtigkeit und Vollständigkeit oder für Konsequenzen, die sich aus der Nutzung der bereitgestellten Informationen ergeben.

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      Forschungsprojekt | 16.07.2013 - 01.12.2016

      Climate Change Mitigation and Poverty Reduction (CliMiP) – Trade-Offs or Win-Win Situations?

      This project analyses the relationship between climate change mitigation and poverty reduction in Mexico, South Africa and Thailand as middle-income countries with rising GHG emissions. Using a multi-disciplinary approach, the assessment of domestic climate governance systems is combined with an investigation of the poverty and distributional impacts of mitigation policies. A third perspective, international relations, contextualizes these domestics factors within the global discourse on developing country mitigation.
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