The New Status Quo of the Paris Agreement: The Psychological Impact of the 2 Degrees Aspiration

European Journal of Risk Regulation (2016)

6 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2016  

Arden Rowell

University of Illinois College of Law

Josephine A. W. van Zeben

University of Oxford - Worcester College

Date Written: March 10, 2016

Abstract

This brief opinion piece draws upon behavioral and cognitive research to argue that the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping global temperature change below 2 degrees Celsius sets a psychologically powerful baseline against which future policy failures can be measured. When international law successfully triggers perception of a baseline, it can lead decision-makers to perceive deviations from that baseline as "losses." This implicates loss aversion, which provides an additional motivation to achieve international norms. The psychological impacts of the new status quo set by the Paris Agreement may therefore prove to be more powerful and more durable than either the unusual structure of the document or the domestic implementation questions that have already attracted so much scholarly debate.

Keywords: international law, loss aversion, prospect theory, status quo bias, baseline, psychology of law, Paris Agreement, climate change

JEL Classification: Q54, K33, K32, K42, F53, F50, Q58

Suggested Citation

Rowell, Arden and van Zeben, Josephine A. W., The New Status Quo of the Paris Agreement: The Psychological Impact of the 2 Degrees Aspiration (March 10, 2016). European Journal of Risk Regulation (2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2793916

Arden Rowell (Contact Author)

University of Illinois College of Law ( email )

504 E. Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

Josephine A. W. Van Zeben

University of Oxford - Worcester College ( email )

Walton Street
Oxford, OX1 2HB
United Kingdom

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