The difficulties in negotiating a post-2012 regime of binding targets and timetables and the decisions of the US, Canada, and Russia on the Kyoto Protocol regime have led to pessimism about the future of the climate regime. Negotiation issues for different coalitions and actors are placed in a wider historical context by examining the key challenge facing the evolving long-term climate change negotiation process: the principled basis for the allocation of resources, responsibilities, rights, and risks between actors. Four theoretical approaches (problem structuring; negotiation theory; collective action and social practice models; legal theory) are applied to the climate regime. A principled approach is only a distributive approach from a narrow short-term perspective. It becomes an integrative approach from a longer-term perspective when it increases the pie, enhances the win-win opportunities and creates space for sustainable solutions to emerge. It is especially integrative when undertaken within the context of global rule of law, which is able to create predictable rules that apply to future global problems with different country interests. Will this happen? Climate justice movements and climate litigation have begun; statesmanship is still needed. © 2012 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.