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Reanimating multilateral international climate change policy? - on South Korea’s “Honest Broker” strategy

Open Panel

Abstract

The disappointing results of the COP 15 in Copenhagen left the global post-Kyoto process deadlocked. Accordingly, the calls for solutions in a sectoral or regional framework get louder. Against this background, the South Korean claim to propel the international climate change negotiations towards a multilateral Kyoto-follow up is a bold statement. To support the global climate change policy efforts and to enhance its role on the international stage, Korea e.g. applied to host the COP 18 in 2012 with the explicitly expressed intention to lead the negotiations to a post-Kyoto agreement. South Korea sees itself capable of achieving this aim because of its special position in world politics. As an Asian “middle power”, former least developed country and current OECD-DAC member, Korea can, as the argument goes, be a “honest broker” on the global stage. This paper elaborates on the “global potential” of Korea’s honest broker strategy. Based on an assessment of the Korean green growth and climate change policies, the honest broker strategy will be analyzed against the background of the development of the post-Kyoto climate change negotiations. The subsequent chapter adds an comparative analysis of South Korea’s role as host of the Seoul G 20 meeting in November 2010, when Korea applied the “honest broker” strategy as well. Finally, the author confronts Korea’s strategy with the EU strategy in order to explore the potential for both compromise and conflict between these two actors. The research design is based on a constructivist concept critically elaborating on the hypothesis that the idea of an “honest broker” will decisively influence the international climate change negotiations. Empirical basis of this paper are documents provided by UNFCCC and various governments, secondary literature as well as interviews with officials from the UN, ROK and various European governments.