The Emerging Climate Change Regime

Annual Review of Energy and the Environment, Vol. 20 (1995), pp. 425-461


The emerging climate change regime -- with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) at its core -- reflects the substantial uncertainties, high stakes and complicated politics of the greenhouse warming issue. The regime represents a hedging strategy. On the one hand, it treats climate change as a potentially serious problem and, in response, creates a long-term, evolutionary process to encourage further research, promote national planning, increase public awareness, and help create a sense of community among states. But it requires very little by way of substantive -- and potentially costly-mitigation or adaptation measures. Although the FCCC parties have agreed to negotiate additional commitments, substantial progress is unlikely without further developments in science, technology, and public opinion. The FCCC encourages such developments, and is capable of evolution and growth, should the political will to take stronger international action emerge.