BIGSSS-departs Ph.D. Fellow, Cohort 2017
Emerging Powers, Climate Change, and the Global Order: Analyzing the National Role Conceptions of Brazil, South Africa, India and China (BASIC)
Debates on emerging powers in the global order and climate change, particularly after COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009, when Brazil, South Africa, India, and China formed the BASIC, are rife with discussions about expectations for greater responsibilities. However, less attention is paid to how the emerging power dimension of these countries’ foreign policies is reflected in climate change negotiations. Thus, this dissertation investigates the intersection of global power shifts and climate change from 2009 to 2019 according to the questions: to what extent do the BASIC countries conceive themselves as emerging powers in climate change negotiations? How do these conceptions as emerging powers influence their behavior in the negotiations? Drawing on International Relations debates on emerging powers and Foreign Policy Analysis role theory, I delineated a theoretical framework composed of National Role Conceptions (NRCs) associated with Emerging Powers and Developing Countries; textual references to emerging and developing countries; and categories related to climate change negotiations. This framework was applied to two sets of documents: high-level statements at the Conference of the Parties (COPs) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; opening statements at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). I examined patterns of NRCs, textual references, and climate categories expressed by the BASIC countries at the COPs and the UNGA and contrasted them with a narrative of their behavior in climate change negotiations. I argue that these patterns assist in understanding the more progressive or resistant positions, as well as cooperation or misalignment. At the same time, they form distinct profiles analyzed in in-depth sections on India’s conflicted insertion into climate negotiations, China’s cautious approach, and Brazil’s peak and decline of Emerging Powers’ NRCs. Overall, my findings assert that there are fundamental differences in how the BASIC countries conceive themselves as emerging powers in their general foreign policies and climate change negotiations and that these differences influence their behavior at the COPs. The emerging power dimension was relatively strong in climate change negotiations from 2009 to 2013, but not in comparable strength to their general foreign policy. Ultimately, these findings call for attention to the different rhythms of change brought about by emerging powers in climate change and global governance.