After the Paris Agreement: What Role for the BRICS in Global Climate Governance?

Secretaria de Assuntos Estratégicos Presidência da República Follow via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The rising power of the BRICS is now at the centre of debates about the future of global governance. Despite the consensus that the political, economic and strategic differences between the BRICS trump the commonalities, the BRICS have managed a level of cooperation that has exceeded expectations. This has led to inquiries about their influence on several policy domains, especially global finance. However, less attention has been given to the role of the BRICS in global climate governance, especially in the aftermath of the Paris climate agreement in 2015. Following the Paris Agreement, and the US' withdrawal, this paper examines the capacity of the BRICS to re‐shape global climate governance. Based on an analysis of the emissions profile of the BRICS, and multilateral and bilateral meetings between BRICS countries since 2015, it argues that while significant obstacles to the BRICS acting as a coalition remain, there are areas that can be identified where cooperation could be scaled up in coming years.

Policy Implications

  • Policy makers in the BRICS need to overcome significant variations in their interests due to their differing production and consumption of oil, gas, and coal if they are to act as a coalition on climate change.

  • In the aftermath of the Paris Agreement, policy makers should work to identify areas that are ripe for intra‐BRICS cooperation and could be scaled up in the coming years.

  • In the first instance, policy makers should focus on the areas of energy efficiency, agriculture and development finance.

  • Policy makers should build bilateral relationships that could provide a basis for coordinated BRICS action. The most promising bilateral relationship appears to be between China and India.