Global Climate Change Politics SIS 620 Monday 5:30-8pm

Global Climate Change Politics
SIS 620
Monday 5:30-8pm
Location: TBD
Professor Sikina Jinnah
Office: 302 SIS
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 202-885-1819
Office hours: Monday 4:00-5:00pm and Friday 10am-11am (by appointment, see
Google doc)
Course Description:
Although the science surrounding climate change is becoming increasingly clear, the
ethical, social and political discussions surrounding how to address it remain as contested
as ever. While the industrialized world has been historically responsible for causing the
problem over the last 150 years, scientific evidence suggests that we cannot avoid the
dangerous effects of climate change without reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
from both developed and some rapidly growing developing countries (e.g. India and
China). This fundamental inequity is what underlies most political debates on climate
change in international relations.
This course will begin to explore the terrain of these debates in the context of the
upcoming 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) due to take place in 30 November – 11
December 2015 in Paris, France. This course will explore some of the tough questions
that governments are currently debating on the global stage, including: should developing
countries be required to reduce their GHG emissions; if so, what mechanisms are
available for doing so, who should pay for it, and should all developing countries be
treated equally; and if not, what are the alternative problem solving tools and what would
those entail from the developed world?
No prior experience with climate politics is required, however students with an interest in
international relations, international law, global environmental policy, and/or sustainable
development will benefit most from this course. While we will briefly review the major
biological/ecological impacts of climate change, students are expected to have a basic
understanding of climate change science. If you feel uncertain about your familiarity with
climate change science please see me for some recommended readings and/or upcoming
lectures on campus to fill the gap.
The course will be taught in a seminar format. Students are expected to come to class
having read the material carefully and ready to discuss it. I will lecture and invite guest
speakers from time to time, but this course relies heavily on direct student engagement
with the course material. There are many ways you can participate, including through:
small and large group discussions of reading material, in-class simulations, written and
oral presentations, and peer review.
Course Objectives:
If you do the reading carefully, come to class prepared to discuss them, and take your
assignments seriously, by the end of the semester you will:
• Be professionally conversant in global-level climate policy;
• Understand and be able to comprehensively discuss the political dynamics and
diverse interests that make climate change such a difficult problem to solve
• Be an expert in the domestic level policy initiatives in one country, and be able to
roughly compare those initiatives to what is going on in other countries;
• Develop your skills in critical thinking, analytical research and writing, public
speaking, creative thinking, and team building.
Assignments and Grading:
Participation and Attendance (20%):
Participation and attendance in class are required. Please show up to class on time and
ready to discuss the reading material. As is typical for a graduate seminar there is a fair
amount of reading for this course. Please read the material carefully and arrive to class
prepared to have a thoughtful discussion about it with your peers. Think about the “In
class discussion” questions for each week before coming to class.
Mock Negotiations (50%)
We will have our own mock negotiation session in class on November 9 (Week 11). Each
student will represent a country at the negotiations, assigned by me taking your
preferences into account. I will assign the precise topic that we will discuss
approximately 3 weeks prior to the mock negotiations. You will be graded on the basis of
how well prepared you are for the mock negotiation session and how well you represent
your countries’ interests at the session. I will post more detailed instructions on BB
closer to the time.
Climate and … Project (20%)
Proposal (Abstract and Title)– 5% (due Week 3)
Peer Review Comments – 5% (due Week 7)
Final Presentation – 40% (Weeks 13 and 14)
Research Paper -50% (due Week 15)
Climate change impacts and concerns can be linked to virtually every issue on the political
spectrum. It has implications for everything from water availability, biodiversity, and
agriculture, to development, gender, and security. While in some cases there is an obvious
and logical link between climate change and a specific issue (e.g. climate change and coral
reef conservation), in others, the link is less obvious and perhaps warrants some
explanation (e.g. climate change and indigenous rights).
This assignment gives you the opportunity to explore the links between climate change and
an issue of your choice. Some examples of topics you might chose, include “climate and…”:
women, agriculture, land use, forests, biodiversity, the aviation industry, the shipping
industry, refugees, development, security, water, oceans, cities, peatlands, biochar,
buildings, biofuels, indigenous rights, etc.
Your paper must have a central thesis/argument. That is, it must go beyond mere
description to make an argument about the issue you are exploring. It must also be cited
properly throughout. I don’t care which citation style you use, as long as it is recognized
and standardized throughout the paper. It should be 8-10 pages double-spaced, not
including references, 11-12 point font, with 1-inch margins.
Final Class Response (10%)
In preparation for the last day of class I will ask you to post a 2-2.5 page response to a
specific prompt on BB. This response will be reflective about the future trajectory about
climate politics and ask you to assess how your thoughts have evolved on this topic over the
course of the semester.
Grading Scale:
97-100 – A(+)
94-97 – A
90 -93 – A-
87-89 – B+
84-86 – B
80-83 – B-
77-79 – C+
74-78 – C
70-73 – C-
67-69 – D+
64-68 - D
60-63 – D-
<60 - F
Late Policy:
You are strongly urged to hand in work on time as indicated on the syllabus. Unless
otherwise indicated, late assignments will incur the following penalties: a 1/3 grade drop
per day (i.e. an A becomes an A- starting immediately after the due date/time).
Assignments more than 3 days late will not receive any credit.
Course Website:
I have set up a course web page on Blackboard. You will find the syllabus there as well
as other resources for class.
Academic Integrity: All students are expected to abide by AU’s Academic Integrity
Code (available at: All
violations will be forwarded directly to the Dean’s office.
Emergency Preparedness: In the event of a declared pandemic (influenza or other
communicable disease), American University will implement a plan for meeting the
needs of all members of the university community. Should the university be required to
close for a period of time, we are committed to ensuring that all aspects of our
educational programs will be delivered to our students. These may include altering and
extending the duration of the traditional term schedule to complete essential instruction in
the traditional format and/or use of distance instructional methods. Specific strategies
will vary from class to class, depending on the format of the course and the timing of the
emergency. Faculty will communicate class-specific information to students via AU email and Blackboard, while students must inform their faculty immediately of any
absence due to illness. Students are responsible for checking their AU e-mail regularly
and keeping themselves informed of emergencies. In the event of a declared pandemic
or other emergency, students should refer to the AU Web site (www. prepared. and the AU information line at (202) 885-1100 for general university-wide
information, as well as contact their faculty and/or respective dean’s office for course and
school/ college-specific information.
Topics and Readings:
Required Readings:
All required readings for class are available on Blackboard (*) or as indicated on the
Week 1 (Aug 31): Introduction to Course and International Relations and Climate
*O’Neill, Kate. 2009. “Introduction: The environment and international relations,” in The
Environment and International Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
IPCC AR5 Summary for Policy Makers
Available at:
*Grubb, Michael. 2015. “From Lima and Paris, Part I: The Lima Hangover” Climate
Policy. 15(3): 299-301
In class discussion: What role do you expect the international community to play in
addressing climate change? What role should the UN play? Bilateral agreements?
Regional ones? How should this compare to what individual countries, cities,
municipalities and/or local communities are doing? What is your hope for the future of
climate change policy in a global context? What do you hope to do to address this
problem in your own life?
Week 2 (September 7): University Closed for Labor Day
No reading but start thinking about which country you’d like to represent for the mock
negotiations and start thinking about your research paper topic and collecting readings
that might be useful in your research.
Week 3 (September 14): Intro to Global Climate Policy AND Proposal Presentations
Mock Negotiations: Top 3 country preferences due at the beginning of class.
Assignments confirmed at end of class
Climate &…Project abstracts due in class (HARD COPY)
Explore the UNFCCC website, available at:
Read at least 4 articles/book sections of your choice to enable you to submit well
informed abstract of your proposed research project. Each student will briefly present
their proposal and we will discuss them as a group. Please bring a hard copy of your
proposed title and abstract to class to turn into me.
Proposal instructions:
Proposals should summarize the issue you wish to research and clearly state and explain
the central thesis. It’s ok if the thesis changes as you do your research, but it’s a good
idea to start from a point of argument rather than one of description. Please also include a
working title and a list of at least 10 references (properly cited) that you have found to
inform your research. Per the instructions above, you should have identified at least 4
readings that are useful enough to read closely by now (for every 10 you find, expect 2 or
3 to actually be useful!). You should read the abstracts and/or skim the rest of the articles
on your reference list before coming to class. Please don’t just list the first 10 things that
come up when you search Google scholar, but put some time into finding articles that are
useful and will actually help you to write a graduate-level research paper. Proposal
abstracts should be no more than 1 page, not including reference lists.
In class discussion: Proposal presentations (2-3 min per student, plus questions)
Week 4 (September 21): Equity in Global Climate Politics: What’s Fair? What’s
Necessary? What’s Realistic?
Note: Most important lecture for the mock tonight. Warning: It’s a bit long.
*Jinnah, Sikina. Draft manuscript in preparation. “Beyond the Blame Game: Emerging
Powers and Normative Contestation over Climate Change”
*Bell, Derik. (2011) “Climate Duties, Human Rights, and Historic Emissions.” in Harris,
Paul. (ed.) China’s Responsibility for Climate Change. Bristol: The Policy Press. pgs 2446
*Agarwal, Anil and Sunita Narain. 2015. “Environmental Colonialism: The Perverse
Politics of Climate Change.” Except reproduced in Global Environmental Politics: From
Person to Planet. Simon Nicholson and Paul Wapner (eds.) Boulder, London: Paradigm
Publishers. Pages233-237.
Assignment: Explore the WRI CAIT Equity Explorer to compare your country and 2-3
others represented in the negotiations. Come to class prepared to discuss any interesting
findings/data that you found. The tool is available here:
In class discussion: What are the central equity issues in global climate politics? Given
the climate impacts we discussed in class last week, how important are issues of equity to
developing climate policy? How likely are we do develop climate policies in the absence
of robust equity considerations? Where do you stand on China’s responsibility for
climate mitigation?
Week 5 (September 28): Equity Continued…
Peer Review Groups Assigned for Research Papers
Reference List Instructions:
Please submit a properly formatted updated references list for your research paper in
HARD COPY in class today. You should have collected at least 20 sources by now that
you think will be helpful in writing your paper. At least half of them should be from
scholarly sources (i.e. NOT white papers, NGOs opinion pieces, websites, etc.). Please
put your name and the title of your paper at the top.
Watch The Island President (on reserve in library and available on Netflix) before
coming to class today. Post a 1-3 paragraph response to the film on BB and come to class
ready to discuss.
Be sure you’ve read all of the scholarly sources identified on your reference list to date.
Consider this goal your assigned reading for this week.
(1) Choose two countries’ INDCs to read. Write a brief 1-page summary summarizing
and comparing them. Come to class prepared to discuss and analyze your findings. You
can find INDCs here:
(2) Explore the WRI CAIT Equity Explorer to compare your country and 2-3 others (can
be the ones you looked at for part 1 of this assignment) represented in the negotiations.
Write a brief 1/2 –1 page summary of your findings. Come to class prepared to discuss
any interesting findings/data that you found. The tool is available here:
(3) Research your country’s emissions data – historic, current, AND projected. Based on
this data, what is a reasonable commitment for your country in the UNFCCC? Write a ½1 page summary and analysis of this information and be prepared to discuss in class.
Post write ups to BB discussion forum, “Working with Country Commitments” before
coming to class on Friday
In class discussion: How do countries’ INDCs vary? What problems does this present?
Based on your analysis of equity dimensions should countries INDCs vary? Why, why
not? How could they be improved?
In class video: The Climate Game and the World’s Poor (IIED, 45 min)
Week 6 (October 5): Key Negotiating Issues on the Road to Paris
Rough Drafts of Research Papers due to your Peer Review Groups Today via Email
*Peter A. Minang and Meine Van Noordwijk. 2014. “The Political Economy of
Readiness for REDD+” Climate Policy. 14(6):677-684
Remi Moncel, Paul Joffe, Kelly Levin and Kevin McCal (WRI). 2011. “Building The
Climate Change Regime: Survey and Analysis of Approaches” Available here:
Special Class Today!
I am organizing a conference on campus today, entitled “Climate Governance on the
Road to Paris.” I will be hosting 7-10 speakers from various NGOs, governments, and
universities, on two panels throughout the day. Your attendance is required at the
keynote address, which by design, overlaps with the timing for our class.
You are also invited and encouraged, but not required, to attend the two panels,
which will run from 1pm to 5pm that day. The first panel is entitled “Climate
Governance in the US and Canada: Carbon Markets and Beyond.” The second panel
may be especially interesting to you, it is entitled “Negotiating a Post-2020 Climate
Deal: What to Expect from Paris.”
I will send more details closer to the time. You can also follow the conference
updates and full program, including times for the panels, here:
The conference will take place in the SIS Founder’s Room.
Week 7 (October 12): Climate Finance AND Peer Review Group Discussions
First half of class (5:30-6:30pm): Group discussions of rough drafts. Please bring
written comments for all members of your group (or email them before class). Be
prepared to verbally critique the 2 papers you were assigned to peer review.
Second Half of Class (6:45-8pm): Guest lecture on Climate Finance, Joe Thwaites,
World Resources Institute (and GEP Alumnus!)
*Luis Gomez-Echeverri. 2013. “The Changing Geopolitics of Climate Change Finance”
Climate Policy. 13(5): 632-648.
*Asa Persson & Elise Remling. 2014. “Equity and Efficiency in Adaptation Finance:
Initial Experiences of the Adpatation Fund” Climate Policy 14(4): 488-506
*Vanderheiden, Steven. 2015. “Justice and Climate Finance: Differentiating
Responsibility in the Green Climate Fund” The International Spectator” 50(1): 3145.
Check out the Climate Funds Update website, here:
Week 8 (October 19): Inside a UN Climate Meeting AND Mock Coordination
**Jinnah, Sikina. Manuscript in preparation ““Why Govern the Climate?” in Why Govern?
Amitav Acharya (ed.) Under review at Cambridge University Press.
IISD (2014) Earth Negotiations Bulletin Summary and Analysis of the COP20, Lima,
Peru. Available at:
(“A Brief Analysis” at the end ONLY)
Eco Newsletters from Lima COP-20 (2014).
Available here:
Choose 2-3 side event video clips (~5min each) to watch from the Lima COP, available
here: Come to class prepared to explain what
you watched/learned.
In class discussion: What has the UNFCCC accomplished in terms of solving climate
change? What are the benefits of UNFCCC negotiations beyond problem-solving? Why
are these negotiations particularly important for developing countries? What about for
emerging economies? Is it worth “governing the climate” through the UNFCCC?
In class workshop: You will have some time at the end of class today to coordinate
within negotiating groups in preparation for the mock prep next week. Please read the
instructions for the Mock Prep BEFORE coming to class so you can work efficiently
within groups to strategize your approach for next week’s formal preparatory exercise.
Week 9 (October 26): Mock Negotiations Preparatory Exercise
See Instructions on BB
Week 10 (November 2): Mock Negotiations Opening Statements
See instructions on BB.
Any remaining class time after opening statements will be used to coordinate in
negotiating groups for the mock negotiation next week. Please come prepared to use this
time efficiently (i.e. bring draft proposals, etc.)
Assuming it’s available as expected on November 1, read the Secretariat’s report on
aggregate impacts of INDCs received to date. Should be available on the UNFCCC
website and/or through a basic google search.
Week 11 (November 9): Mock Negotiations
No reading – research packets due at the beginning of class
Week 12 (November 16): Debrief of Negotiations AND Climate Linkages: Climate
Change & Trade AND AU Climate Activities
Debrief due to BB Discussion Forum by 5:30pm today
Guest lecture: Megan Zanella-Litke, AU Sustainability Manager (6:15-7:00pm)
*Chasek, Pam, Lynn Wagner, and I. William Zartman. 2015. “Six Ways to Make the
Climate Negotiations More Effective” Centre for International Governance
Innovation (CICGI) Fixing Climate Governance Policy Brief Series. No. 3 June
*Green, Andrew. 2005. Climate Change, Regulatory Policy and the WTO
How Constraining Are Trade Rules? Journal of International Economic Law.
8 (1):143-189.
*Brewer, Thomas. 2010. “Trade Policies and Climate Change Policies: A Rapidly
Expanding Joint Agenda” The World Economy 33(6): 799–809
In class Discussion: Mock negotiations debrief
Week 13 (November 23): Final Paper Presentations (First ~4) AND Geoengineering
Guest Lecture: Simon Nicholson, GEP Program Director, 5:30-7p
**Nicholson, Simon and Wil Burns. Forthcoming 2016. “Governing Climate
Engineering: Promise or Peril?” in New Earth Politics. Simon Nicholson and
Sikina Jinnah (eds.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
Week 14 (November 30): Final Paper Presentations (Remaining)
No reading. Work on Final Papers
Week 15 (December 7): Pot Luck, Discussion of the Way Forward, AND
Final Day Reflection: Due to BB by Monday, December 7 at 10am
*Michele Betsill, et. al. 2015. “Building Productive Links between the UNFCCC and the
Broader Global Climate Governance Landscape” Global Environmental Politics
*Weischer, Lutz, Morgan, Jennifer, Patel, Milap. 2007 “Climate Clubs: Can Small
Groups of Countries make a Big Difference in Addressing Climate Change?”
Review of European Community & International Environmental Law 21(3): 14679388
*Andresen, Steinar. 2015. “International Climate Negotiations: Top-down, Bottom-up or
a Combination of Both?” The International Spectator. 50(1): 15-30
Final Day Reflection Instructions: Please post a 2-2.5 page response (not including
references) to the prompt below. We discussed several of these questions on the first day
of class. Your reflection should clearly indicate how your thoughts on these issues have
evolved over the course of the semester. You should draw on at least 5 readings in
writing your response, including those assigned for today’s class. Cited properly please
Prompt: What role do you expect the international community to play in addressing
climate change? What role should the UN play? Bilateral agreements? Regional ones?
Climate Clubs? How can we build more productive links between levels of governance countries, cities, municipalities and local communities? What is your hope for the future
of climate change policy in a global context? What do you hope to do to address this
problem in your own life? How has your answer to these questions evolved over the
course of the semester?
Key Dates and Deadlines
Mock Negotiation Country
Due Date/Week
Week 3, Sept. 14
Climate &….Proposals
Rough Drafts of Research
Paper for Peer Review
Peer Review Comments
Due on 2 papers assigned to
Week 3, Sept. 14
Week 6, Oct. 5
Mock Prep Exercise
Week 9, Oct. 26
Opening Statements
Week 10, Nov. 2
Mock Negotiation
Week 11, Nov. 9
Mock Debrief
Week 12, Nov. 16
Final Presentations
Week 13 and 14, Nov. 23
and 30
Final Class Reflection
Week 15, Dec. 7, 10am to
BB Discussion Board
Final Papers
Dec. 3 at 5pm
Week 7, Oct. 12
I’ll ask you in class to write
down your top 3
preferences from the
country list on BB to turn
HARD COPY in Class
Due to 2 peer reviewers
(assigned by me) via email
Due in hard copy or via
email to paper authors
before class. Come to class
prepared to explain your
Nothing due in class but
you will be graded on how
well prepared you are for
this exercise based on your
participation in class.
Nothing due in class. Grade
will be included in research
packet grade.
Research Packets due in
HARD COPY at the end of
Due to BB before coming to
I’ll let you know which day
you’ll be presenting. It will
be assigned randomly by
Due to BB discussion
forum. Note due before
HARD COPY to my office.
Note: not due in class but
happy to accept papers early