Richard Widick (IICAT:6/12/2017)
The emerging regime of global governing institutions, including institutions of environmental governance embodied in treaties like the Kyoto Protocol and the next universal treaty of 2015, must be seen as the compromise formation of numerous opposing forces, including those of the various market-driven economic entities (corporations, people), the emergent global public sphere/civil society (essentially the public, broadly conceived, including NGOs, social movements, think tanks, educational institutions, and media outlets, etc.), and the various nation-states (polity).
Our research on the international climate wars takes these institutions as one central object of investigation, and this page will in time reflect our best representation and analysis of this crucial sphere of power. Please see below several of our recent essays addressing the UN and its subsidiary UNFCCC in this regard. See also our timeline of globalization and resistance, on which we highlight the key organizations of the emergent regime of global governance and explain how they function as crucial engines of globalization (i.e., they drive the expansion of the world economic [culture] system).
The following annotated links represent our suggested ports of entry into the institutional sphere of emergent global self-governance, with specific attention to global environmental self-governance. We suggest exploring each site in turn, in the order listed, and with reference to the notes with which we explain why we think this is a good place for you to visit and begin your own critical, theoretical encounter with the emergent institutions through which the planetary economic, socio-cultural, and ecological transformations of globalization are most likely to impact you.
THE UNITED NATIONS
Because so much rests on the role of the United Nations, we recommend reading the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the original UN Charter, first adopted in San Francisco in 1945. The Charter is also available online at United Nations. This document records the founding speech with which the entire sphere of emergent global self-governance was and continues to be called into existence, and so it stands here at the head of our effort to know and understand the international climate wars.
To illustrate the seminal role played by the UN Charter in the conflict surrounding climate change and climate governance, one need only show by way of analogy how important the US Constitution has been in generating and organizing the emblematic environmental conflicts in US history.
In a word—environmental conflicts in the United States always play out in the courts, in the public sphere, and in the markets as a contest over the laws governing private (and public) property.
This is a contest governed by Constitutional mechanisms, a metaphor I like because it allows me to talk about the juridical engines of perpetual public sphere conflict over property.
On the US side of this parallel, please see Chapter 1, pps. 25-34 of Richard Widick, Trouble in the Forest: California’s Redwood Timber Wars (2009, University of Minnesota Press); on the UN side, please see Richard Widick, Dangerous Places and especially Invitation to Paris.
The United Nations’ INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE NEGOTIATIONS are continuous and ongoing: We recommend following breaking news on the negotiations at these sources:
New 2015 Historical Analysis of Global Climate Governance, emphasizing the tole of the G8: The Global Governance of Climate Change, by John Kirton, et. al.
The UNFCCC homepage (see “latest headlines” widget, top right).
The UNFCCC “MEETINGS” pages archives the official UN documents produced for each session of the climate negotiations.
The Third World Network (TWN). Third World Network reports on all the international climate negotiations.
— TWN updates on the March 2014 Durban Platform (new treaty for 2015) meetings at the Bonn intercessional talks.
— TWN updates describing every facet of the Bangkok negotiations, August 30 -September 5, 2012.
The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
— IISD reports from COP 19, Warsaw, 2013
— daily IISD reports and coverage of COP 18, Doha, Qatar, 2012
— daily reports and coverage of the UNFCCC COP17, Durban, South Africa 2011. See especially iisd’s “Summary of the Durban Climate Change Conference, 28 November – 11 December 11.” The International Institute for Sustainable Development Reporting Services (iisd rs) “provides a variety of multimedia informational resources for environment and sustainable development policymakers, including daily coverage of international negotiations, analyses and photos. As the publisher of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin, IISD RS is recognized for its objectivity and issue expertise in the field of international environment and sustainable development policy. The various products provided by IISD RS make it an essential source of information for government officials, policy and decision makers, UN staff, non-governmental organizations, intergovernmental organizations, business, industry and academia.”
HISTORY OF THE UN UNFCCC Climate Talks
—UNDER CONSTRUCTION —
1. IFDD Guide to COP 20, Lima, Peru, 2014.
SOCIAL SCIENCE and the Emergent Institutional Regime of Global Climate Governance
International Center for Climate Governance (ICCG). We have only recently become aware of the ICCG, an Italian civil society research institute focusing on “the design of climate policy and related governing institutions.”
Earth System Governance (ESG). ESG describes itself “the largest social science research network in the area of governance and global environmental change.” Especially relevant at this juncture, in the lead up to Qatar COP18, is 2012 ESG Working Paper NO. 25, “Connecting the Dots: Managing the Fragmentation of Global Climate Governance“, by Harro van Asselt and Fariborz Zelli. We insert the paper’s abstract to compel your interest:
The debate about post-2012 global climate governance has been framed largely by
proponents and opponents of the policymaking process established by the United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In light of the
proliferation of institutions governing some aspects of climate change, analysts have
asked whether a centralized or a polycentric climate governance architecture will be
more effective, efficient, equitable, or viable. While these are valid questions, they
obscure the fact that global climate governance is already polycentric, or rather:
fragmented. This paper argues that the more pertinent questions are how to sensibly
link the different elements of global climate governance, and what the role of the
UNFCCC could be in this regard. We examine these two questions for three aspects of
global climate governance: international climate technology initiatives; emerging
emissions trading systems; and unilateral trade measures. The paper shows that there
are strong arguments for coordination in all of these cases, and illustrates the possible
role of the UNFCCC. It concludes, however, that possibilities for coordination will
eventually be limited by underlying tensions that will plague any future climate
THE INSTITUTIONS OF GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL GOVERNANCE
The United Nations (UN).
The World Trade Organization (WTO).
The World Bank (WB). In the following video, recorded at the Petersberg Dialog IV, May 2013, the President of the World Bank Group explains how important the problem is from the World Bank perspective.
We invite you to read several of our recent essays which bear down on the question of emergent global environmental self-governance:
Invitation to Paris (Widick 2015) introduces a cultural-theoretical analysis of the UN and the UNFCCC, underscoring the open character of the Law within which and as which these institutions function vis-a-vis the climate justice movement.
Whose Utopia? Our Utopia! (Foran & Widick 2012) explains the ideal or utopian discourrses inscribed in the UN, UNFCCC, the market-based criticisms of the UNFCCC, and the global climate justice movment.
Climate Justice on the Road from Durban (Foran & Widick 2012) reports back from the UNFCCC COP17, recently hosted in South Africa, at which the COP decided on a new treaty process to replace the Kyoto Protocol in 2020.
Dangerous Places (Widick 2010) describes the theoretical coordinates and the methods that Widick used in Trouble in the Forest (2009, University of Minnesota Press) to analyze California’s redwood timber wars, and which he now applies to his ongoing analyses of the international climate wars.
What is Driving our Modern Social Imaginaries (Widick 2009) is an essay by Widick explaining the linguistic, socio-cultural-historico-economic, and psychoanalytic theoretical coordinates that now guide his encounter with and analysis of the international climate wars.
The UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP)/Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP)