The 2015 Climate Agreement: Key Lessons Learned and Legal Issues on the Road to Paris
37 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2016
Date Written: December 28, 2015
Since 2011, the negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have slowly but steadily built a foundation for a new climate agreement that parties hope will carry the Convention forward more progressively and more universally than ever before. This article endeavors to illustrate the major legal issues that will need to be resolved in Paris, France before the new climate agreement can be judged on its merits. The resolution of these legal questions will have significant ramifications for the breadth of participation and how parties may meet their obligations under the new agreement.
This article provides a brief background of the UNFCCC, highlighting key shifts in the global community’s strategies to address climate change and considers the key lessons learned by parties over 23 years of experience regarding the legal form and rigor of climate agreements, differentiation, ambition, transparency and compliance, adaptation, and means of implementation. It then explores some of the legal issues that will need to be decided in Paris, particularly the legal form of the core agreement, which will influence U.S. President Barack Obama’s choice among given options for U.S. acceptance. The Paris agreement is a rare opportunity to bolster international environmental law, strengthening individual climate efforts over time and reinforcing international climate cooperation.
Keywords: International environmental law, UNFCCC, climate, negotiations, Paris agreement, COP 21
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