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Political Obstacles to International Agreements on Climate Change

Project Leaders: John Odell
Project Members: David Runnalls

In the past decade, multilateral organizations have been plagued by simultaneous deadlocks on issues of security, trade, environment and others. Critical global problems continue to fester without sufficiently effective collective action. This project was launched in late 2013 to take a fresh look at ways to circumvent political obstacles to international solutions.

During 2013-2014, the project concentrates on climate change. Climate scientists agree that human activity has been causing our planet’s atmospheric temperature to rise over the long term.Without serious policy changes, scientists expect devastating consequences in many regions: inundation of coastal cities; greater risks to food production and, hence, malnutrition; unprecedented heat waves; greater risk of high-intensity cyclones; and irreversible loss of biodiversity. Some international relations scholars expect increased risk of violent conflicts over scarce resources.

Environmentalists have been campaigning for effective changes for more than two decades. The world’s governments have been negotiating continuously since 1995 as parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. These UN talks have not yet produced agreements that are sufficiently effective in curbing emissions or helping the world adapt to climate impacts. Some effort has shifted to partial measures by national governments, provinces, cities and private companies, which together also fall far short of the need.  

Led by CIGI Senior Fellow John Odell, the project begins with a stock-taking and design phase. Much policy research and advocacy has already been completed. The special focus is now on contributions that negotiations between governments and other actors — outside as well as inside the UN — might make and ways around today’s chief political obstacles. A public forum was held in November 2013 (click here for the report), and a focussed meeting of international policy and academic experts is planned for the first half of 2014, to refine the design of a major future effort.  

related materials

CIGI appoints international negotiation and conflict expert John Odell as Senior Fellow

Friday, January 24, 2014
News Release
CIGI is pleased to announce the appointment of international negotiation and conflict expert John Odell as Senior Fellow.
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