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Keywords:

  • climate-change mitigation;
  • global negotiations;
  • social identity;
  • superordinate identity;
  • ASPIRe

The issues surrounding rising levels of atmospheric CO2 and climate change have become part of the collective conscious and the vernacular of world leaders, media, and the public alike. Despite the widespread concern and attention, attempts to achieve a global commitment to mitigate climate change are failing. In this article, we suggest that the Actualizing Social and Personal Identity Resources model (ASPIRe; Haslam, Eggins, & Reynolds, 2003), developed to help organizations become more sustainable and productive, can promote more efficient negotiations in matters of global environmental concern. Using this model as a framework, the dynamics of the United Nations (UN) meeting in Copenhagen are scrutinized along with suggestions for how to structure future negotiations. Building on an understanding of existing UN-type committee structures, it is argued that as the interests of individual nations and those of like-minded other nations (subgroup interests) become the real basis for decision making on the issue of climate change the more likely it is that a higher-order superordinate identity will emerge, which promotes aligned action. To date, the psychological aspects of social and behavioral change have been neglected, which could be a factor in explaining the lack of coordinated action on climate change.