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From the Local to the Global: Learning About Human Rights Effects of Climate Policies

Andrea Schapper

In this paper, I argue that transnational advocacy networks (TANs) at the international climate conferences initiate policy learning regarding adverse local human rights effects of certain climate policies. As a consequence of policy learning, state negotiators have agreed to human rights entering climate agreements in Cancun (2010) and in Paris (2015). TANs are composed of international, domestic and local civil society organizations, international organizations and single state representatives. They use grassroots experiences to demonstrate that certain climate policies entail adverse human rights effects for the population on the ground. By interacting closely with state representatives, TANs make negotiators aware of these rights infringements. They persuade state actors that are receptive to human rights arguments to introduce passages including rights references into the negotiating text. These states decide to not fund rights-violating climate policies and pressure other states to also vote in favour of rights institutionalization. In this way, learning, persuasion and pressure mechanisms are at work leading to institutional interaction between climate change and human rights policies.The research for this paper is based on the evaluation of policy documents, expert interviews at the COPs in Warsaw (2013) and Paris (2015) and participatory observation at the strategic planning meetings of TANs. It makes two main contributions to scholarship on environmental policy learning. First, it explains which actors and mechanisms can foster learning and institutional interaction between two different policy fields. And second, it demonstrates how actors at the international level learn from local experiences with policy implementation.

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