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Cover The Politics of International Law

6. Global environmental governance and climate change  

This chapter focuses on the intersection of law and politics in global environmental governance. A key characteristic of global environmental governance is its fragmentation. The regulatory landscape is populated by a variety of hard and soft law regimes, institutions, processes, and actors, which address particular environmental challenges, or address them in particular ways. Yet there are core principles that are common to many of these regimes, including the precautionary principle, the prevention principle, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, and the concept of sustainable development. The chapter then turns to an in-depth analysis of global climate change governance. It traces the evolution of climate change governance from the creation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1994 to the present, focusing on the major legal-institutional milestones of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the 2015 Paris Agreement. Finally, the chapter returns to the problem of fragmentation, considering recent attempts to bring greater unity and coherence to global environmental governance.