Towards a Better Understanding of Climate Change Negotiations


  • Bryndís Arndal Woods
  • Daði Már Kristófersson
  • Silja Bára Ómarsdóttir



Durban Platform, Game Theory, Climate Change Negotiations, Mixed Methods/Integrated Assessment, International Climate Policy.


The bulk of environmental economics literature applies non-cooperative game theory to examine the stability of International Environmental Agreements. Recently, a new trend has emerged in the literature whereby scholars use modified economic approaches to better account for ‘reality’ as such. This article builds upon the work of Hugh Ward, Frank Grundig and Ethan Zorick who conducted a mixed-method analysis to create a model of international climate change negotiations which could explain why policy change has been minimal in this issue area. The purpose of this article is to further develop the mixed-method approach in order to gain a better understanding of international climate change negotiations. Using the progression of the 2011 Durban negotiation session as our raw data, we demonstrate the usefulness of conducting qualitative and quantitative analyses simultaneously to best represent reality. Content and discourse analyses are applied to the Durban negotiations to identify the properties of the underlying game. The results are applied to the future of the negotiations in order to identify trends which need to be addressed to reach more progressive outcomes in the future. The main results of the qualitative analyses of the Durban negotiations included that players had modest expectations at the outset of the negotiations, which influenced the issues they addressed. The quantitative analysis demonstrated that players achieved a high degree of success at Durban; all players achieved their desired outcomes on at least half of the issues they addressed. Finally, the mixed-method approach identified important trends from the negotiations, most importantly the cracks exposed within the BASIC bloc and the role of the ‘middle ground’ alliance.

Author Biographies

Bryndís Arndal Woods

Ph.D student in Environmental Science at the University of Iceland.

Daði Már Kristófersson

Docent Professor of Economics at the University of Iceland.

Silja Bára Ómarsdóttir

Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Iceland.




How to Cite

Arndal Woods, B., Kristófersson, D. M., & Ómarsdóttir, S. B. (2012). Towards a Better Understanding of Climate Change Negotiations. Icelandic Review of Politics & Administration, 8(2), 491–514.



Peer Reviewed Articles

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 > >>