Unlocking Willpower and Ambition to Meet the Goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement (Part One): Shifting Needs of Law, Policy, and Economics

10 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2018

See all articles by Thomas D. Peterson

Thomas D. Peterson

Center for Climate Strategies

Steven Chester

Center for Climate Strategies

Robert B. McKinstry

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: December 1, 2016

Abstract

The Paris Agreement defines the UNFCCC’s goal of preventing dangerous anthropogenic climate change to require that the increase in global average temperature be limited to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels and species that this requires the Parties to achieve carbon neutrality by the second half of the 21st Century. This will require much more ambitious emissions reductions than those to which Parties have agreed to date. The Paris Agreement incorporates a long-standing recognition of the need for expanded "ambition," which in the context of the UNFCCC means attaining higher levels of GHG mitigation (environmental aspiration and stringency) by participating nations. "Willpower" is an underlying and often unexpressed component of the multilateral negotiations under the UNFCCC and the political feasibility that undergirds them; willpower has been informally embedded in the formulation of enabling mechanisms such as flexibility, capacity building, financing, cooperation, transparency, and self-determination. This Comment examines the nexus between willpower and ambition in the context of the Paris Agreement and its domestic implications worldwide, and identifies key elements of a more integrated, systematic, and strategic treatment of the two concepts through law and policy. The article examines the evolution of the concepts of ambition and willpower since the Kyoto Protocol, identifies the specific conditions required to build the necessary political willpower to achieve the Paris commitment, and describes the ties between willpower and policy development and implementation procedures, with an eye towards legal conditions.

Keywords: UNFCCC, Paris Agreement, greenhouse gases, willpower, ambition

JEL Classification: Q54, F5, F3, K32, Q48, Q56, Q58

Suggested Citation

Peterson, Thomas D. and Chester, Steven and McKinstry, Robert B., Unlocking Willpower and Ambition to Meet the Goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement (Part One): Shifting Needs of Law, Policy, and Economics (December 1, 2016). Environmental Law Reporter, Vol. 46, No. 11024, 2016, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2890642

Thomas D. Peterson

Center for Climate Strategies ( email )

1899 L Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States
(202) 540-9121 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.climatestrategies.us

Steven Chester

Center for Climate Strategies ( email )

c/o Pennsylvania Environmental Council
130 Locust Street, Suite 200
Harrisburg, PA 17101
United States

Robert B. McKinstry (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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