3 The Role of Norms for US Foreign Climate Policy

In: Cultural Dynamics of Climate Change and the Environment in Northern America
Frederic Hanusch
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This chapter analyses the role which domestic and international norms and their respective socialisation processes play in the determination of a state’s foreign policy. It therefore focuses on the empirical case of US foreign climate policy from its start in 1972 up until 2005. After developing a theoretical framework based on the concept of social constructivism in political science, the analysis is carried out over two distinct periods of time, each time period representing a new phase of international climate negotiations.

The results of the analysis are twofold: Firstly, norms within climate policy work as determinants and thus define how much a government can manoeuvre on any given theme. Socialisation processes, meanwhile, are able to push a government slightly in one direction or another. Additionally, a predominance of domestic norms with a stronger domestic socialisation can be observed in the case of US foreign climate policy—albeit, particularly since the 1990s, the phenomenon of a polarised domestic response to climate policy is immediately observable. To sum up the findings: this chapter uses the results of the foreign policy analysis as a framework for creating a norm-stage-model that looks to map formations and back-formations of climate norms onto other democracies.

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