Journal Article

US-China Relations and the Fate of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change: Traditional Conservatism as an Ideological and Cultural Constraint on US Participation in a Successor  to the Kyoto Protocol on Chinese Terms

Paul A. Barresi

in Chinese Journal of International Law

Volume 10, issue 3, pages 609-649
Published in print September 2011 | ISSN: 1540-1650
Published online September 2011 | e-ISSN: 1746-9937 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/chinesejil/jmr023
US-China Relations and the Fate of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change: Traditional Conservatism as an Ideological and Cultural Constraint on US Participation in a Successor  to the Kyoto Protocol on Chinese Terms

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The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which the People's Republic of China (PRC) has ratified but the United States has not, imposes legally binding greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction requirements only on developed countries, and only through 2012. Like most less developed countries, the PRC has insisted that only developed countries should be required to limit their GHG emissions as a matter of international law under any successor to the Kyoto Protocol. American traditional conservatives repeatedly have cited the lack of legally binding international limits on the PRC's own emissions as a principal reason for not ratifying the Kyoto Protocol or binding the United States to any successor accord with similar terms. Many observers regard an accommodation between the United States and the PRC—the world's two largest GHG emitters by far—as essential to the success of efforts to limit global warming to acceptable levels under the UNFCCC. In the absence of a major breakthrough in the Conference of the Parties, which no one expects to happen anytime soon, the UNFCCC seems destined to become a mere footnote in the story of how we humans either succeeded or failed in our efforts to avert catastrophic global climate change, with both US-China relations and American traditional conservatism having played no small role in sealing its fate.

Journal Article.  18676 words. 

Subjects: International Law

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