Strategic and Relational Models of International Climate Treaty-Making (AQM steer)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Department Name: Politics


Climate change is one of the most pressing societal challenges. While many consider the Paris Agreement a success, President Trump's 2017 announcement to withdraw the US from the agreement has raised concerns about whether other states will also backtrack. This puts a fundamental, counterfactual question in the spotlight: Would the same announcement by any other country, Costa Rica say, have triggered similar worries?
This seemingly innocuous question highlights a major challenge for our understanding of international cooperation. When governments make decisions about whether to join a treaty, such as the Paris Agreement, they consider two things: First, they are forward-looking and try to assess how their own treaty participation affects the likelihood of others to join the agreement. Second, governments look backwards to see which countries have already ratified a treaty before deciding on their own action.
Existing statistical approaches ignore these strategic and relational contexts in which specific agreements are made; they only consider a government's current choice, independent of how their own choice affects future behaviour by others (strategic context) and what to learn from historic ratifications (relational context). Hence, realistically complex statistical methods that take these contexts into account should be specified and applied. This project assesses the relative merits of two advanced quantitative methods: Strategic Estimation (SE) and the Relational Event Model (REM) to investigate international agreement-making to better understand the nature of government choice over time. It will compare, both substantively and statistically, the SE and REM approaches, using climate change as an illustration. This project uses cutting-edge strategic and relational statistical approaches in international climate politics, is highly topical and relevant to policymakers and think-tanks given continued talk about effectively decarbonising economies, and develops methods that are applicable to all types of international treaties, including trade and human rights.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000681/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2435318 Studentship ES/P000681/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Jacob Myers