Which Countries Send More Delegates To Climate Change Conferences? Analysis Of UNFCCC COPs, 1995–2015

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Foreign Policy Analysis


The size of national delegations at the most critical intergovernmental climate change conferences—the annual gatherings of the Conference of the Parties (COPs) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change—vary greatly. The literature has emphasized the importance of national delegation size (NDS) for states’ formal and informal participation in climate change negotiations. To our knowledge, however, this is the first paper to comprehensively examine the determinants of NDS from 1995–2015. The findings highlight a country's resources and its interest in the mitigation of fossil fuel emissions as important determinants of its NDS. In contrast, the evidence for a connection between vulnerability to climate change and NDS is limited. Interest group politics appear more important than civil society or bureaucratic influence in determining NDS. In terms of policy implications, the distance between the country and the COP location is a robust deterrent of larger delegations, and there is a nonlinear relationship between NDS and financial capacity. Further, there are differences across Annex I and non-Annex I countries.

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