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Environmental Mega-Conferences and Climate Governance beyond the Nation-State: A Bali Case Study

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The international response to climate change includes not only formal agreements between nation-states, but also more disparate interventions by a range of actors beyond the governmental arena. These non-state actors—including business groups and city coalitions—operate both within and beyond their own local jurisdictions and increasingly form transnational networks and actively participate in international climate negotiations. This article presents a case study of the engagement of transnational networks of cities and businesses at the 13th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties held in Bali in December 2007. The Bali meeting acted not only as a process to agree on a "roadmap" to a post-Kyoto climate agreement, but also as an "environmental mega-conference" that brought together state and non-state actors and opened up a discursive space around the issue of climate change. Using tools of discourse analysis to examine webcasts of parallel events at the Bali conference, this article considers how non-state actors use this discursive space to position themselves vis-à-vis the international regime, make claims for resources and power, and frame the issue of climate change through narratives that facilitate policy intervention at a particular scale. The analysis suggests that the narratives advanced by business and city networks at the conference reinterpret climate change in ways that give them legitimacy and traction in seeking to resolve it, but stop short of challenging dominant discourses of ecological modernization that underpin the current regime of international climate governance.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 February 2010

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  • The St Antony's International Review (STAIR) is the only peer-reviewed journal of international affairs at the University of Oxford. Set up by graduate students of St Antony's College in 2005, the Review has carved out a distinctive niche as a cross-disciplinary outlet for research on the most pressing contemporary global issues, providing a forum in which emerging scholars can publish their work alongside established academics and policymakers. Past contributors include Robert O. Keohane, James N. Rosenau, and Alfred Stepan.
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