Over at Foreign Policy, Daniel Drezner offers a tutorial on international relations theory as it applies to international climate change negotiations:
China has supplanted America as the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. From an economic perspective, we are witnessing a transition from a bipolar world (the US + EU) to a multipolar world (OECD + BRICs). International relations theory is not sanguine about what this means for international cooperation. In theory, a concert of great powers can still foster cooperation. Possible does not mean likely, however. In practice, as the number of powerful actors increases, the likelihood of meaningful cooperation declines.
Advocates of the Waxman-Markey climate bill argue that the odds of such cooperation greatly improve if the U.S. brings a congressional commitment to the bargaining table. Drezner remains unconvinced:
my expert take is that Waxman-Markey is kind of like Obama's other soft power initiatives--they certainly don't hurt, but they also don't help all that much either.
Prodded by his editor to offer an alternative course of action, Drezner suggests that an international climate change framework
link adaptation benefits to constructive steps on mitigation. The expert consensus on global warming is that regardless on what is done to mitigate its effects, adaptation to elevated levels of greenhouse gases will be required. Furthermore, this burden will fall disproportionately on the developing world. Unlike mitigation, which is a pure public good, adaptation is an excudable benefit. If a climate change regime proffers an adaptation fund of some sort linked to concrete steps on mitigation, it could nudge the big LDC emitters towards the necessary levels of cooperation
That's intriguing. I wonder what climate policy experts make of this.