The Politicization of the Climate: The Emergence of International Climate Policy (1970s-1990s)


This dissertation project investigates how the problem of anthropogenic climate change, as postulated by scientists, developed into an area of international political concern. Beginning in the late 1970s the project focusses on the origins and early genesis of international climate policy through the early 1990s, reflecting on the interaction between the UN level, national governments, (climate) scientists, and organizations representing civic and economic interests. On the one hand, it explores the initial definition of the problem in the field of science and the following process of agenda-setting, and, on the other hand, by charting the regulatory attempts to create an international system for climate protection, attention is drawn to the formation of a political response within the framework of the United Nations. In addition to the emerging constellations of actors and interests, the study, following on the basic methodological assumptions of the cultural history of politics, also traces specific sequences of argumentation and related interpretations in order to consider the effects of the reality-structuring function of language and discourse dynamics on the development of active climate policy. Bearing in mind the considerable weight of national governments in international politics and, at the same time, offering another angle which is of significance for the perception and handling of the climate issue, two national perspectives are deepened: The perspective of the United States, as one of the most significant actors with regard to climate protection efforts at the international level, and that of the Federal Republic of Germany, which, in contrast to the US administration, was often referred to as a trailblazer in (international) climate policy.

To the joint research project