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Abstract

The term fragmentation implies that policy domains are marked by a patchwork of public and private institutions that differ in their character, constituencies, spatial scope, subject matter, and objectives. While the degree of fragmentation varies across issue areas and their respective architectures, global climate politics is characterized by an advanced state of institutional diversity. In recent years, scholars have increasingly addressed this emerging phenomenon of international relations. The article finds that the predominant focus of these studies has been on dyadic overlaps, i.e., interlinkages between two institutions, and less on the overarching level of entire architectures and their degree of fragmentation. This goes in particular for research on the global climate change architecture. Many studies have attended to the relationship between the United Nations climate regime and other institutions: multilateral technology partnerships, regimes regulating other environmental domains like ozone or biological diversity, and regimes from non-environmental issue areas like the world trade regime. However, a cross-cutting account of these overlaps which addresses the overall implications of institutional fragmentation on climate change is still missing. As possible areas for further research the article identifies: consequences of fragmentation (e.g., a new division of labor or increased inter-institutional conflict), fragmentation management and conditions of its effectiveness; theory-driven analyses on the reasons of fragmentation within and across policy domains. WIREs Clim Change 2011 2 255–270 DOI: 10.1002/wcc.104

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