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    Review of 'A short history of the successes and failures of the international climate change negotiations'

    A short history of the successes and failures of the international climate change negotiationsCrossref
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    A short history of the successes and failures of the international climate change negotiations

    The last 30 years have been a period of intense and continuous international negotiation to deal with climate change. During the same 30 years, humanity has doubled the amount of anthropogenic carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. There has, however, been progress and some notable successes. In 2015 at COP21, 196 countries signed the Paris Agreement stating that they would limit global temperatures to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and would pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. This was followed up at COP26 in Glasgow with many countries pledging to go net zero emissions by the middle of the century. But currently these pledges, if fulfilled, will only limit global average temperature to 2.4˚C to 2.8˚C. This article reviews the history of international climate change negotiations and examines what the key objectives are for future COP meetings.

      Review information

      This work has been published open access under Creative Commons Attribution License CC BY 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Conditions, terms of use and publishing policy can be found at www.scienceopen.com.

      Earth & Environmental sciences
      COP26,COP27,Paris Agreement,net zero,Policy and law,Climate,UNFCCC,Sustainable development,climate emergency,negotiations,climate change,Kyoto Protocol,environmental social movements,The Environment

      Review text

      General assessment:

      This manuscript reflects on the history of global climate change negotiations, centred on the UNFCCC processes. This subject has been widely reviewed by many authors who addressed different aspects that are presently core issues of the ongoing discussion. The major strength of this manuscript is that a clear and linear timeline of the major achievements and failures is presented in a flowing style and supporting infographics, and pinpointed the problems to be considered in the preparation of the upcoming round of the negotiations. I believe that the insights offered by this manuscript certainly merit the wider readership through this publication, and will complement the precedent analyses of other facets.

      I have a few suggestions with a view to improving the manuscript readers’ understanding, as follows.


      Analysis of paradigm shifts in global negotiations and discussions

      (Although related milestones are briefly noted in the manuscript) It would be great to have an in-depth analysis of the paradigm shift that occurred through the negotiation processes in the past 30 years or so, since the scientific evidence compiled by IPCC has become the foundation for climate change discussions. For example; What has shifted the problem of climate change from environmental to socioeconomic concerns? What has derived the change in the major countries’ position from a weak voluntary commitment approach to legal enforcement? In this context, the author’s view on the Stern Review and/or the role and success/failure of the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action and Equity (in relation to the Paris Agreement, the (missing) legal enforcement, and in particular, unresolved issues of responsibility and equity).

      Furthermore, the past/ongoing agreements regarding the implementation of the net zero emission target may be elaborated (Respective update of Figs 2 and 3 may also be considered, as necessary).  In particular, the development of the Task force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and the countries’ acceptance/reservation regarding the ongoing effort to set related international standards (ISO, corporate value chain standard, etc.) in the context of future negotiations can add value to the manuscript.



      I find significant similarities between the first half of the manuscript under consideration and other published papers by the authors themselves, including the example below. It appears that this manuscript is in a series of the authors’ continuous reviews of the negotiation processes, which make it quite natural. I suggest that the relevant previous publications are included in the list of references, and include a text explaining the relevance and extensity of the current manuscript.

      Mark A. Maslin (2020) The road from Rio to Glasgow: a short history of the climate change negotiations, Scottish Geographical Journal, 136:1-4, 5-12, DOI:10.1080/14702541.2020.1853873


      Boram Lee                   Geneva, 28 September 2022



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