Institute of Political Science


Case studies

In order to see whether national contexts make a difference for the securitising frames suggested and their success, the project will compare the discourses in four different countries, namely Germany, the US, Mexico and Turkey. We have chosen these because of their stance on the Kyoto Protocol as an embodiment of concrete international climate policy commitments on the one hand and their degree of (economic) development on the other. Firstly, this addresses the concern raised in the literature that work on securitisation of the environment often excludes the Global South (e.g. Dalby 1999, Leboeuf and Broughton 2008: 9). Secondly, this allows us to see whether securitising climate change works differently in countries that are seen as environmental forerunners and such that are considered laggards. It is important however to note that the stance on the Kyoto protocol is a selective device. We do not argue that this necessarily implies an observable difference in securitisation outcomes, although the ratification of Kyoto is certainly one possible policy move in order to respond to securitisation.


Industrialised country

Emerging economy

Kyoto Protocol Laggard



Kyoto Protocol Vanguard



The US has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol. The Bush Administration has repeatedly pointed to the scientific uncertainty regarding the anthropogenic responsibility for climate change (Harrison 2007: 104). The climate change policy of the Bush administration was characterised by scepticism about emission reductions and its effect on the economy (White House Press Office 2002). Accordingly, the Bush administration rejected the Kyoto Protocol with its binding reduction targets as well as the lack of similar responsibilities for the emerging economies, and already declared in 2001 that the US did not plan to implement the Protocol (Eckersley 2007). Rhetorically, the Obama administration changed the US position dramatically, acknowledging the scientific proof of man-made climate change and emphasising the economic potential of renewable energies (White House Press Office 2008). However, a proposal for national climate legislation, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, failed in the Congress and significantly weakened the administration’s position before the UN climate conference in Copenhagen. Moreover, the US has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol despite the newly self-ascribed leadership role.


Germany is generally praised for its proactive stance in international climate negotiations. During the first Conference of Parties (COP-1) in Berlin, Germany and other EU member states were said to have paved the way for the Berlin mandate, which created a working group tasked with the drafting of a legally binding protocol including emission reduction targets within a specified time frame (Oberthür and Ott 1999). In 2002 Germany was the first major industrialised country that formally began with the procedure to ratify the Kyoto Protocol (BBC News 2002). The two chambers voted to make it part of national law in April 2002 unanimously in accordance with the EU environmental ministers’ decision to ratify the Protocol until August of that year.


In Turkey, the climate change conflict nexus is often addressed in relation to development concerns (Adem 2011) and energy security issues (Demirba 2003, Balat 2010). After initial intentions to sign the Kyoto Protocol, Turkey postponed its signature for over a decade with reference to its concerns regarding impediments to economic development. When Turkey finally acceded to the Kyoto Protocol in 2008, this was mainly attributed to pressure from the EU and the aim to be involved in shaping the post-2012 climate change regime, albeit not necessarily in terms of a more ambitious stance (Today’s Zaman Online 2008). In relation to the ratification Greenpeace activist Hilal Atıcı criticised: ‘Turkey has always been too late in being part of international efforts to combat climate change’ (Today’s Zaman Online 2008).


The case of Mexico illustrates that a large emerging economy, which additionally depends on revenues from oil exports, can nevertheless implement ambitious climate protection efforts. Mexico is generally praised for a proactive stance in the climate change negotiations, including an early signature and ratification of the Kyoto Protocol (Chandler et al. 2002). The Kyoto Protocol was opened for signatures in March 1998 and Mexico was one of the first countries to sign it on 9 June 1998. Mexico’s Congress ratified the Kyoto Protocol in April 2000 unanimously, remarkable two years earlier than South Africa with its comparable economic structure and presence of environmental NGOs (Fredriksson et al. 2007: 232). In terms of implementation, Mexico actively participated in the preparation of National Communications as a part of the responsibilities under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Mexico was the first country which presented a Second National Communication to the UNFCCC in 2002, and was the first non-Annex 1 country to present its third National Communication four years later.






Kyoto Signature

12 November 1998

29 April 1998

9 June 1998

Not signed

Kyoto Ratification

Not ratified

31 May 2002

7 September 2000

28 May 2009

Per Capita Income

(2010 estimates)

$ 47 200

$ 35 700

$ 12 900

$ 12 300

Human Development Index

Rank 4 (0.902)

Rank 10 (0.885)

Rank 56 (0.750)

Rank 83 (0.679)

Bertelsmann Transformations Index



Rank 33 (7.09)

Political: 6.93

Economic: 7.25

Rank 20 (7.54)

Political: 7.65

Economic: 7.43

CO2 Emissions per Capita 1998 (Tons of Carbon Per Year)





Sources: CIA Factbook, UNDP, PWE, US Energy Information Administration