The reason international negotiations to tackle climate change are not working is because they have been premised on long-established norms of state sovereignty and states’ rights.
Consequently they are characterised by “diplomatic delay, minimal action -– especially relative to the scale of the problem – and mutual blame between rich and poor countries, resulting in a ‘you-go-first’ mentality that has prevailed even as global greenhouse gas emissions have exploded.”
This is Paul Harris’s perception in his book World Ethics and Climate Change: From International to Global Justice . He argues that the communitarian principle which underlies the concept of the sovereign state is too limiting to be able to deal adequately with environmental issues which extend beyond state borders. It’s not that states have completely ignored the problem of dangerous climate change.
They have recognised that collective action is required, and have agreed that climate change is a common but differentiated responsibility, with developed states obligated to act first before developing countries are expected to limit emissions.