The Failures of American and European Climate Policy

International Norms, Domestic Politics, and Unachievable Commitments

By Loren R. Cass

Subjects: Environmental Politics
Series: SUNY series in Global Environmental Policy
Paperback : 9780791468562, 280 pages, June 2007
Hardcover : 9780791468555, 280 pages, September 2006

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Table of contents

1. Climate Policy and the Domestic Salience of International Norms 

2. Issue Framing, Norm Emergence, and the Politicization of Climate Change (Villach to Geneva)

3. International Norms and the Politics of Emission Reduction Commitments (Chantilly to Rio)

4. The Domestic Political Salience of International Norms? (Rio to Berlin) 

5. Domestic Conflict and International Normative Debates (Berlin to Kyoto) 

6. Rhetoric and Reality: The US vs. the World?  (Kyoto to Marrakech) 

7. Conclusion


Examines why some nations, but not others, have met their commitments to international climate treaties.


In this timely work, Loren R. Cass argues that international norms and normative debates provide the keys to understanding the evolution of both domestic and international responses to the threat of global climate change. Ranging from the early identification and framing of this problem in the mid 1980s through the Kyoto Protocol's entry into force in 2005, Cass focuses on two normative debates that were critical to the development of climate policy—who should bear primary responsibility for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions and what principles would guide these reductions. He examines why some nations, but not others, have met their commitments, and concludes that while many states affirmed the international norms, most did not fully translate them into domestic policy. Cass offers an index to measure the domestic salience of international norms and compare the level of salience across states and within states over time, and uses it to assess the European Union, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Loren R. Cass is Assistant Professor of Political Science at College of the Holy Cross.