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Learning in international negotiations: the strategic use of lessons in post-agreement climate finance politics

Feist, Marian Johannes (2017) Learning in international negotiations: the strategic use of lessons in post-agreement climate finance politics. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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This thesis examines the strategic use of lessons drawn from past experiences during post-agreement climate finance negotiations. Existing theories and empirical studies of learning and lesson-drawing tend to disregard aspects of political contestation and power. Their research agenda aims to find alternative explanations for policy change, which creates a blind spot for learning in politically charged contexts. Approaches that do take power seriously emphasise the symbolic or rationalising effects of lessons. This thesis proposes a different mechanism. In its theoretical framework, it demonstrates how lesson-drawing and power can be reconciled within arguing-and-bargaining theory, which requires rethinking how lessons fit into the framework conceptually. The Green Climate Fund (GCF), an institution under the umbrella of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, serves as a case study. Formally established in 2010, the GCF allocates funding for climate adaptation and mitigation measures in developing countries. While envisioned to induce a paradigm shift in global economic development pathways, it is not the first of its kind. Other development and climate finance institutions are frequently referenced during the negotiations at the Fund. Based on an in-depth qualitative analysis of video recordings of four negotiation rounds, the thesis finds that post-agreement climate negotiations, while equally politically charged, take place under different circumstances than the annual global climate summits. The fact that an initial agreement has already been signed preempts effective bargaining using conventional tactics, such as threat of withdrawal, as those would lack the necessary credibility. In this light, delegates adjust the mode of negotiating, but without changing the underlying logic of interaction. On the contrary, lesson-drawing not only reflects that adjustment, but becomes itself a vehicle for strategic action. These findings have further implications for larger debates in International Relations, particularly regarding the role of structural assets in negotiations.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2017 Marian Johannes Feist
Library of Congress subject classification: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences > HG Finance
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Falkner, Robert

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