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North-South division and injustice in the UNFCCC climate finance policy process: a historical institutionalist perspective

Coventry, P. (2019) North-South division and injustice in the UNFCCC climate finance policy process: a historical institutionalist perspective. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Abstract/Summary

Rooted in the core injustices of climate change, climate finance is central to ongoing North- South political contestation in the global governance of climate change and UNFCCC policy output, but has been given considerably less attention by scholars than mitigation and adaptation. This thesis uses a historical institutionalist approach to add to existing international relations and international political economy research into global environmental governance and justice, extending the application of historical institutionalism at the international level. With an emphasis on North-South political and justice divisions, the project examines the original institutional design of the UNFCCC in 1992 and the subsequent development of four contested areas of the climate finance policy process until 2015, identifying evidence of coalition building, incremental change, path dependence, policy paradigms and other mechanisms whereby institutional rule structures rooted in the initial institutional design have affected actors' power, interests, ideas and behaviour. The thesis finds that in all four policy areas the UNFCCC’s initial policies and, in some cases, policy ambiguities, were shaped by developed countries’ material interests and normative perspectives. This gave advantages to developed countries that enhanced their political power within negotiations and affected the policy process in such a way that developing countries usually had to seek institutional change, while developed countries could reinforce existing rule structures. Examples of institutional change in the four areas are limited, and in most cases were in line with developed countries’ shifting objectives rather than indicating developing countries genuinely overcoming disadvantageous structures. Overall, the thesis demonstrates that institutional design and development are important factors perpetuating North-South contestation in the UNFCCC climate finance policy process and limiting the realisation of developing countries’ interests and priorities, and shows that historical institutionalism can offer useful new insight into global environmental governance institutions and the justice of their outcomes.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Okereke, C.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Archaeology, Geography & Environmental Science
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:89069

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