Climate Change and Relative Gains in the Wikileaks Archive


On the 10th of July 2014 I had the opportunity to present a paper entitled Climate Change and Relative Gains in the Wikileaks Archive at the 6th Oceanic Conference on International Studies (OCIS) held at the University of Melbourne, Victoria.

The paper essentially examines the hypothesis that relative gains concerns are prohibiting the full participation of nations such as the United States in climate negotiations under the United Nations Frame Work Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

This paper was co – authored with Dr Benjamin Habib and explores the United States fear that under a legally binding emissions reduction treaty, China as a Non – Annex 1 nation would incur disproportionate economic gains and thus sway the balance of power leaving the US at a relative disadvantage.


In testing our hypothesis, a method of qualitative content analysis was employed in the search for relative gains concerns within the Wikileaks archive. Initially, we compiled a list of search terms including climate change and the UNFCCC to be entered into the Cablegate archive. From this, a dossier of climate related cables was compiled and then examined in order to ascertain whether relative gains concerns proved to be impeding international cooperation on climate change.

Although climate change was not often the main theme of the diplomatic cables, it was found that relative gains concerns could indeed be cited as a major impediment to cooperation within the UNFCCC negotiation process.

The US fear of relative gains within international climate negotiations can be seen as one of the major reasons that an internationally binding treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has not yet come into force despite the drastic need for  global action on climate change.


This was my first conference presentation and proved to be an interesting foray into the field of International Relations.

I would like to sincerely thank my co panellists Dr Benjamin Habib and Dr Robert Winstanley – Chesters for their enlightening presentations on North Korea within the climate regime and for making my first conference experience a positive and memorable one.


To view a full copy of the paper please click the link below.

Tuck & Habib_OCIS 2014_Climate Change and Relative Gains in the Wikileaks Archive



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