The Two Sides Of The Paris Climate Agreement Dismal Failure Or Historic Breakthrough

This reversal of the evolution of international climate policy, in particular the fundamental logic of the climate regime, requires explanations. Since the Kyoto Protocol came into force in 2005, states have negotiated a new climate agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The first attempt to create a new treaty in Copenhagen in 2009 failed and shook the confidence of many participants in multilateralism`s ability to tackle climate change (Dimitrov Reference Dimitrov2010). The Copenhagen agreement was rejected by many participants in the negotiations as a substantive and process affront (Ciplet, Roberts and Kahn Reference Ciplet, Roberts and Khan2015). The Palestinian Authority closely reflects the Copenhagen Agreement (Bodansky Reference Bodansky2016a, see the online annex for the comparison of relevant text elements), which was hailed as a major step forward in 2015. Why was an agreement with the same essential characteristics rejected in Copenhagen and accepted in Paris? What are the changes that enabled the adoption of the specific agreement currently in force between 2009 and 2015? As Putnam says, “credibility (and therefore the ability to do business) is enhanced at Level I by the (demonstrated) ability of a negotiator to “deliver” to Level II (Putnam Reference Putnam1988, 439). This task would be a challenge in light of Kyoto`s legacy. Other negotiators had to receive more than signals of goodwill; they had to have proof that Obama was capable of implementing a new agreement in his own country. The credibility of the U.S. promises depended largely on the development of a serious internal political portfolio and showed that such an action program was both possible and effective in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the face of congressional opposition. National actors with divergent interests often try to influence the negotiator. While the national public has only limited influence over the negotiations themselves, their cooperation is often necessary to ratify and implement a negotiated agreement.

In the United States, for example, the Senate has the exclusive power to ratify an international agreement setting new legal obligations for the country. This request puts the Senate in a powerful position to block the president`s interests. If the negotiator is unable to reach an agreement that adequately addresses the concerns of a national player such as the U.S. Senate, which must be implemented, the agreement could be undermined by the failure of implementation. What Putnam called “involuntary migration” is what happened to the PC. That is what could happen with the Paris agreement. Structurally, the climate regime requires the leadership of a K group (Snidal Reference Snidal1985) – a minimal coalition of large states capable of ensuring the effectiveness of the regime – because there is not a single hegemon capable of guaranteeing the global public well-being of climate stability.

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