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The role of the Asia Pacific Partnership in discursive contestation of the international climate regime

  • Jeffrey McGee
  • Ros Taplin
Original Paper

Abstract

After withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol, the US Bush Administration and the Australian Howard Government pursued an international climate change policy focussed on voluntary international agreements outside the UN climate negotiations. This strategy included the formation of several climate agreements directed at technology development, including the 2005 Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (APP). The APP provides a model for international climate change policy directed at voluntary national greenhouse gas intensity targets, technology development through sectoral public–private partnerships and technology diffusion through trade. This article situates the APP within these US and Australian inspired climate agreements formed outside the UN negotiations. Bäckstrand and Lövbrand’s (in M. Pettenger (ed.) The social construction of climate change: power knowledge norms discourses, 2007) discourse analysis in relation to the international climate negotiations is used to explore differences between the APP and UN climate treaties. We find the APP embodies a discourse of what we call ‘deregulatory ecological modernisation’ that promotes limited public funding to ease informational failures in markets for cleaner technologies and management practices. The deregulatory ecological modernisation discourse is a deeply intensive market liberal approach to international climate change policy, which contests binding emission reduction targets and the development of a global carbon market. The USA, Australia, Japan and Canada represented a core group of countries that used the APP to promote the deregulatory ecological modernisation discourse and thereby contest any deepening of developed nations' emission reduction targets for the post-2012 period. However, with changes of leadership and new parties in power in the USA and Australia, it appears that the deregulatory ecological modernisation discourse has lost ground compared to a reengagement with discourses supportive of developed country emission reduction targets and equity-based adaptation and technology transfer assistance for developing nations.

Keywords

Climate change Asia Pacific Partnership APEC Sydney Declaration UN climate regime Ecological modernisation Discursive contestation 

Abbreviations

APP

Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate

APEC

Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation

CBDR

Common but Differentiated Responsibilities

CDM

Clean Development Mechanism

COP

Conference of the Parties

EM

Ecological Modernisation

IPCC

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

JI

Joint Implementation

MEP

US Major Economies Process

NGO

Non-Governmental Organisation

PIC

Policy and Implementation Committee

SBSTA

Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice

UNFCCC

United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change 1992

UN

United Nations

US

United States of America

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge the excellent assistance that Harro van Asselt and Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen provided in finalising this article and in editing this special issue. The authors also thank the two anonymous reviewers of this article for their valuable assistance.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of LawUniversity of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia
  2. 2.Graduate School of the EnvironmentMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Environmental Management, Mirvac School of Sustainable DevelopmentGold CoastAustralia

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