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Creating a Mutual Gains Climate Regime Through Universal Clean Energy Services

William Moomaw and Mihaela Papa
May 2012

Sustainable Development Diplomacy and Governance Discussion Paper


coverClimate change is a serious threat to all nations. This raises the question of why continuous treaty negotiations for more than two decades have failed to create a viable or adequate international climate regime. The current strategy of addressing climate change misdiagnoses the issue as a pollution problem by focusing on symptoms (emissions) and not on underlying causes (unsustainable development). In short, the wrong treaty is being negotiated. Drawing on negotiation analysis, it is argued that the existing and proposed climate treaties fail to meet the national interests of any party. An alternative strategy for addressing climate change is proposed that reframes the overall approach to reflect all countries’ development needs and links climate protection goals to the development structure of the treaty. The current deadlock over emissions reductions might be overcome and a mutual gains agreement reached by directing international cooperation towards promoting the provision of clean energy services for development and ensuring universal access to those services as part of an ‘early action’ agenda that will complement efforts to utilize forests and reduce other greenhouse gases (GHGs) from multiple sectors.

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