Perceptions of the effectiveness of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in advancing national action on climate change
This paper aims to characterise the ways in which the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is trickling down to affect national level action on climate change. State and non-state actors were interviewed at the 8th UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP8) during October and November 2002. The interviews revealed that, among interviewees, climate change was already perceived to be, or was becoming a priority issue. In a number of countries substantial legislation is already in place to facilitate climate change preparedness (both adaptation and mitigation), although respondents suggest that in the majority of cases these changes are not being developed in response to the UNFCCC, but to other drivers. While all respondents saw change occurring at the national level, mostly through planning and research, few saw climate change response actions at the local level. Respondents agreed that climate risks must be managed through various mechanisms, from finding ways to participate in the Kyoto Protocol mechanisms to managing the impacts of foreign direct investments. The majority of respondents focussed on in-country actions such as identifying the most vulnerable groups, but few identified the need for greater global cooperation. To conclude, the Convention plays a role in shaping the discourse of climate change and in generating national level responses. These responses are played out differently according to the geographic, environmental, economic, social and cultural conditions of each country. The Convention is clearly important, but perhaps it is not adequate to inspire national action to resolve the problems of climate change. There is scope for many additional initiatives, through collaboration, trade or aid, and through bilateral agreements.