Most observers agree that more than 20 years of UN climate negotiations have been a failure. Some argue that the top-down approach is one important reason for this and that a bottom-up approach or more exclusive club approaches would have rendered better results. Based on experience with these approaches so far this is far from self-evident and there are limits to what can be achieved by clever institutional design when deep-seated political conflicts prevail. Many approaches are also hybrids between the various approaches and the future climate regime will probably contain elements of both the top-down and the bottom-up approach. However no quick fixes can be expected for this exceedingly ‘malign’ problem.
Keywords: climate regime, institutional design, conflicts