What effect does extreme weather have on climate policy? Existing studies show that weather shocks have negative economic impacts and increase public awareness of climate change. These findings help identify the impacts of climate change on economic and social systems, and provide reasons for governments to adopt climate policy reforms. However, questions remain about the overall link between local extreme weather shocks and government climate policy. I investigate the effect of temperature shocks and natural disasters on a range of national, international, and subnational climate policies in samples spanning 1990–2018. I find that neither temperature shocks nor natural disasters generate climate mitigation reforms. Given that climate policy is currently insufficient to manage climate change and climate impacts are expected to increase this century, these findings suggest that future climate shocks are unlikely to catalyze meaningful climate action.
Roger, Charles B. and Rowan, Sam S. (2023). "The new terrain of global governance: Mapping membership in informal international organizations." Journal of Conflict Resolution, vol. 67, no 6, p. 1248–1269.
We present a new dataset of membership in informal international organizations—IOs founded with non-binding instruments—which constitute one-third of operating IOs. We introduce state-IO-year–level membership data for 195 countries that complements the dataset on formal IOs from the Correlates of War Project. We explain our conceptualization of an informal IO, contrast it with other approaches, and detail the data collection process. We illustrate similarities and differences across formal and informal IOs, and across states and regions. We explain how our data validate or challenge conjectures about informal cooperation that have been inaccessible for lack of data. We demonstrate that while formal and informal IOs are similar in size, the composition of informal memberships in informal IOs is more fragmented. While informal IOs are a growing part of the governance portfolios of most states, some countries and regions participate more. We conclude by outlining elements of the research program our dataset unlocks.
Roger, Charles B. and Rowan, Sam S. (2022). "Analyzing international organizations: How the concepts we use affect the answers we get." The Review of International Organizations, vol. 17, no. 3, p. 597-625.
We explore how “international organizations” have been conceptualized and operationalized in the field of International Relations (IR), identify an important gap between the two, and demonstrate how this shapes our understanding of world politics. Traditionally, we show, IR has embraced a broad conception of international organizations (IOs) that appreciates variation in design. However, the literature has largely coalesced around a measurement standard that reflects the characteristics of major postwar IOs. Prevailing measures, therefore, mainly count formal IOs—bodies founded with legally binding agreements—and omit informal IOs, which are founded with non-binding instruments. We argue that this produces a disconnect between theory and empirical evidence used in the field, since scholars frequently make arguments about IOs in general but draw inferences from formal IOs only. After reviewing how this disconnect has emerged, we use an original dataset on state membership in 260 informal IOs to reanalyze a number of important studies, showing heterogeneous effects for subtypes of IOs that conflict with existing theories to varying degrees. These differences imply that formal and informal IOs have different effects and that existing findings in the field are partly artifacts of the specific way IO variables have been operationalized by scholars. Based on this, we offer recommendations for how to improve research practices moving forward.
Global politics has experienced tremendous institutional proliferation, yet many questions remain about why states join these institutions and whether they support cooperation. I build on existing work to develop a general theory of state participation in dense institutional environments that also helps explain cooperative outcomes. I argue that states may be dissatisfied when cooperation proceeds either too slowly or too quickly and that these two types of dissatisfaction motivate opposing participation behaviour. Deepeners are dissatisfied with the slow pace of cooperation and join institutions to support cooperation, while fragmenters are dissatisfied with the quick pace and join institutions to undermine cooperation. I evaluate my argument using new data on 63 climate institutions and states' greenhouse gas mitigation targets in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. I find that membership in climate institutions designed to facilitate implementation is associated with more ambitious targets, while membership in general is unrelated to targets.
The Paris pledges are unique documents in climate governance that outline what each country intends to do to combat climate change. Often, these documents contain headline greenhouse gas percentage reduction targets that appear to summarize countries’ contributions to mitigation. This is a boon for comparative climate policy research. However, I show in this paper that the Paris pledges require detailed interpretation to be comparable. I demonstrate the risks in comparing these targets by re-visiting a recent studying linking national public opinion to the stringency of countries’ mitigation goals. I develop new indicators that better account for the structure of the targets and show in replications that the original finding is inconsistent with the underlying data. I conclude by drawing lessons for studying the Paris pledges.