"Excellent!" CICEP research contributed to the Paris Agreement


The Research Council of Norway concludes that CICEP researchers score high on research performance and relevance to decision-makers: Our impact case, ‘Fair Paris’, “convincingly shows how the research has been used in global climate negotiations”.

Monica Bjermeland

The research group “International Climate Policy”, consisting of political scientists from CICERO and the University of Oslo and economists from CICERO (see list of names below), is among Norway’s leading environments in social science research, according to SAMEVAL, an evaluation published by the Research Council of Norway in June 2018. Most of the involved researchers also work for CICEP.


According to the evaluation, “this is a world-leading group of researchers in the field of international climate policy negotiations and effectiveness”. Its research is “highly relevant” for the transition to a low-emission society and for the push to develop national and international climate policy. The research group was praised for giving high priority to “making a difference in the real world” and for playing an active role in disseminating research findings to climate negotiators and other actors who benefit from the research.

Our case builds on the successful combination of three factors - scientific excellence, dialogue, and timing.
— Steffen Kallbekken, director of CICEP

In 2017, the Research Council of Norway appointed six independent committees to evaluate the country’s social science research. Our research group on international climate policy was among the few groups that received a mark of “excellent” from the evaluation committee. Contributions from CICEP have been crucial for gaining this position. The centre has played a particularly important role in making the research accessible to users, as our submitted "impact case" shows. 

Steffen Kallbekken, current director of CICEP, said that the evaluation committee was looking for cases where it was possible to document a clear link from science to societal impact.

“Our work on fairness in international agreements was shortlisted as an excellent example”, said Kallbekken.

Contributed to the Paris Agreement

The submitted impact case, ‘Fair Paris’, was chosen from the CICEP portfolio. It shows that the research results actually helped to secure a global agreement in the Paris Accord in 2015, according to the evaluation committee of the Research Council, who writes:

“The impact case, entitled ‘Fair Paris’, convincingly shows that researchers from CICERO (and from UiO) were instrumental in providing tools to address the challenging issue of ‘differentiation’ (i.e. fairness between countries) in the design of the Paris Climate Agreement. This was accomplished through the results of over two decades of interdisciplinary research between political scientists, economists and natural scientists at CICERO, which suggested a way to include the issues of equity/differentiation in a manner that was acceptable to all, without having to agree on specific principles. In practice, the proposal started with a report in 2014 to the Nordic working group for global climate negotiations, which was discussed at several Nordic meetings and eventually ended up as specific recommendations at COP20 in Lima 2014. The head of the Norwegian delegation confirms that the idea emanated from this report, and the follow-up in COP21 also includes the same idea of leaving it up to each country to choose, and justify, their own principles. This, in turn, secured global agreement.”

“Our case builds on the successful combination of three factors - scientific excellence, dialogue, and timing. CICERO had built up strong academic credibility on the issue based on nearly two decades of multi-disciplinary research on fairness and effort sharing. We were able to put this to practical use thanks to a close dialogue with Nordic climate negotiators, writing applied reports tailored to their needs, and delivering the ideas they needed just when they were called for”, said Kallbekken. 

A result of long-term collaboration

CICEP was established in 2011. The two main research goals are to identify international policy options and strategies that can effectively drive the transition towards low-carbon energy systems, and to arrive at politically feasible policy options.

From my perspective as ‘emeritus’, long-term cooperation on international negotiations and institutions appears to have been very important start-up capital.
— Professor Arild Underdal

“CICEP's high score in the fields highlighted by the evaluation surely is a result of long-term collaboration between researchers at CICERO, ISV/UiO and the Fridtjof Nansen Institute on international negotiations and environmental regimes, in close contact with leading foreign research communities in Europe and the United States. Good examples are a more or less "fully financed" one-year project at the Center for Advanced Study (associated with The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters) and important joint publications (e.g. Miles et al., Environmental Regime Effectiveness, MIT Press, 2002)”, said professor Arild Underdal, former rector at the University of Oslo and director of CICEP in its first years.

“Thus, from my perspective as ‘emeritus’, long-term cooperation on international negotiations and institutions appears to have been very important start-up capital when we began the CICEP sketch”, said Underdal who was granted a membership in the US Academy of Sciences last year.

The excellence may dissolve

The Research Council of Norway concludes in its assessment that the “international climate policy group” has become stronger as a result of CICEP recruitment and rejuvenation, a strength secured at least until the funding for CICEP ceases in 2019.

Given the current outlook for funding for research in international climate politics, the research group may well dissolve.
— Senior researcher Håkon Sælen

According to the assessment committee, this research group has high impact and an excellent international reputation:

“Several of the publications deal with pertinent issues relating to ongoing global climate negotiations and the politics of implementing domestic climate policy in different countries, and they contribute valuable theoretical as well as empirical input to understanding the challenges involved”, said the committee.

The evaluation committee notes that the main challenge facing the group is to secure its research portfolio beyond CICEP funding.

“Our excellent results are largely due to the long-term funding from the Research Council of Norway through CICEP”, said Håkon Sælen, who had his PhD financed through CICEP between 2011 and 2015 and continues to work on CICEP in a 50-50 split position at CICERO and the University of Oslo.

“We hope that the evaluation will impact the thematic priorities in future funding. Given the current outlook for funding for research in international climate politics, the research group may well dissolve”, said Sælen.


The “International Climate Policy” group consists of these researchers:

  • From CICERO: Stine Aakre, Solveig Aamodt, Guri Bang, Merethe Dotterud Leiren, Todd Cherry, Steffen Kallbekken, Erlend Hermansen, and Bård Lahn.
  • From the University of Oslo (ISV): Jon Hovi, Tora Skodvin, Ida Dokk Smith, and Kacper Szulecki.
  • Jointly from CICERO/UiO: Elin Lerum Boasson, Arild Underdal, and Håkon Sælen.