The Long Road to Paris: The History of the Global Climate Change Regime (2019)

Julia Kreienkamp’s Policy Brief at the Global Governance Institute at UCL from November 2019 available here for free download.


The adoption of the 2015 Paris Agreement has been widely celebrated as a ‘monumental triumph’ (UN News 2015). It enshrines a ‘new logic’ of global cooperation, representing a decisive shift away from the top-down regulatory approach that had previously underpinned the international climate change regime (Falkner 2016). This shift can best be understood in light of the historical evolution of the legal and institutional framework for global collaborative climate action. This policy brief provides a comprehensive overview of the development of the global climate change regime. It documents how climate change – initially a purely scientific concern – gradually entered the wider international public and political debate, leading to the establishment of the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the adoption of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and, eventually, the Paris Agreement. It focuses primarily on multilateral negotiations under the UNFCCC while also highlighting the growing role of non-state actors in the post-Paris era of ‘hybrid global climate governance’ (Kuyper, Linnér and Schroeder 2018).


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