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New Publications on the Paris Agreement, the Amazon Rainforest and Environmental Agreement-Making

30 November 2021
New Earth System Governance perspective piece was initiated by discussions at a workshop on Conducting Research at Global Environmental Negotiations, held at the University of Vienna, 8-10 October 2019.
New Earth System Governance perspective piece was initiated by discussions at a workshop on Conducting Research at Global Environmental Negotiations, held at the University of Vienna, 8-10 October 2019.

As ever, CEJ members have been busy organising and writing new publications that aim to advance understanding of global environmental degradation and legal and political attempts to address it. In this blog, we take a closer look at three of these recent contributions on the Paris Agreement, a special issue on the Amazon Rainforest and a perspective piece that offers a new framework for studying processes of global environmental agreement-making.

Making the Paris Agreement: Historical Processes and the Drivers of Institutional Design

Jen Iris Allan, Charles B. Roger, Thomas N. Hales, Yves Tiberghien, Steven Bernstein

In this article, Jen Allan and co-authors seek to explain why the Paris Agreement took the form that countries ultimately adopted. As Jen describes, “there were several options. Broadly, countries could have designed different approaches or even failed to adopt a treaty. Specifically, the rules could have looked very different.”

The authors use an historic approach that focuses on how events and actors’ strategies interlocked over time to shape the ultimate treaty. The aim was to try to focus on the long haul of negotiations and offer a broad analytical narrative of the treaty. Often, research on institutional design can be quite a-historic or even functionalist. Instead, the authors aimed to unpack how history mattered for the Paris Agreement’s particular set of rules.

The authors bring different perspectives and expertise to bear on this formation process in the article: some focus on negotiations, or non-state actors, others ask broad questions about the history of the process. When I asked Jen whether there was more to come, she explained that the article was a bit of a one off in terms of the authorship team. But suggested that for her personally, the publication sparked new work on the history of pledging and target setting in global climate governance. We’ll look forward to seeing more on this Jen!


Special Issue on The Amazon Rainforest

Dr Ricardo Pereira acted as the Guest Editor (alongside Dr Beatriz Garcia, Western Sydney University) of a Special Issue on The Amazon Rainforest published in the Review of European, International and Comparative Environmental Law (RECIEL) in July 2021. This Special Issue critically evaluates legal pathways that may contribute to the protection of the Amazon against the backdrop of increasing deforestation rates, forest fires, biodiversity losses and unfavourable political contexts in some of the Amazon States. The Special Issue also highlights the challenges related to regional and international cooperation and forest governance more broadly.

To mark the publication of the Special Issue, the contributors took part in a workshop earlier this month on The Legal Protection of the Amazon: Current and Future Trends, with contributions spanning international environmental law, policy and science. The event was organised by Western Sydney University School of Law in collaboration with Griffith University’s Tropical Primary Forests and Climate Change project, Cardiff University’s School of Law & Politics and the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at the Columbia Law School.


Global Environmental Agreement-Making: Upping the Methodological and Ethical Stakes of Studying Negotiations

Hannah Hughes, Alice Vadrot, Jen Iris Allan, Tracy Bach, Jennifer S. Bansard, Pamela Chasek, Noella Gray, Arne Langlet, Timo Leiter, Kimberly R. Marion Suiseeya, Beth Martin, Matthew Paterson, Silvia Carolina Ruiz-Rodríguez, Ina Tessnow-von Wysocki, Valeria Tolis, Harriet Thew, Marcela Vecchione Gonçalves, Yulia Yamineva

This perspective piece is part of an on-going collaboration between Alice Vadrot, University of Vienna and myself on methodological innovation in global environmental politics. We aim to initiate and contribute to new conceptualisations of this field of study in order to illuminate the social, political and economic forces that drive environmental degradation and shape the collective response.

The perspective piece, published in Earth System Governance, developed out of a workshop at the University of Vienna in September 2019, which was funded by Alice’s MARIPOLDATA project. This is a European Research Council Project, which uses the ongoing negotiations on a new legally binding instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) to develop and apply a new methodological approach combining Collaborative Event Ethnography (CEE) with the social study of science to examine science-policy interrelations in practice.

The aim of the workshop, on Conducting Research at Global Environmental Negotiations, was to bring together a group of scholars at different stages in their careers who had closely followed a range of sites, actors and negotiating processes using different approaches and methods in order to develop a practical and methodological guide to the study of multilateral environmental agreements. The fertile, cross-disciplinary and mixed method workshop discussions initiated a process of collective reflection on how we might re-conceptualise these spaces and the actors and influences that are often considered outside of, or periphery to agreement-making. The aim of the perspective is to review and build on much of the scholarship that has inspired and influenced our thinking on this.

We further develop the agreement-making framework and the methodological building blocks for undertaking this study in an edited book, Research on Global Environmental Agreement-making, which is due to be published next year as part of the Earth System Governance Series with Cambridge University Press. Jen Iris Allan will contribute a chapter on textual analysis, co-authored with Pamela Chasek at Manhattan College. Another CEJ member, Dr Valeria Tolis, will also be contributing to a chapter in the book. Valeria reflects on her recent PhD experience of studying the EU’s climate policymaking using a Lacanian discourse analysis and explores how this shaped her chosen sites of study.

Earlier contributions from this project were published in a special section of Global Environmental Politics in 2019 (guest edited by Hannah Hughes, Kim Marion Suiseeya and Alice Vadrot)