Unlocking Willpower and Ambition to Meet the Goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement (Part Two): The Potential for Legal Reform and Revision
16 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2017 Last revised: 21 Mar 2018
Date Written: January 17, 2017
This article examines legal and policy mechanisms that can better build the ambition and willpower necessary to achieve the goal of preventing dangerous anthropogenic climate change consistent with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as defined in the Paris Agreement, building upon an earlier article by the authors. The United States’ current federal approach to implementation of the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement has largely been limited to technology based standards, which are unlikely to support either the ambition or willpower necessary to limit temperature increases to 2 degrees C as they have been applied. Comprehensive, multi objective, capacity building, stakeholder based processes, such as those implemented by many states, have more consistently met conditions needed to build willpower and ambition. The results of these process are exemplified by the examples of California and the states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The state level planning process under section 110 of the Clean Air Act could build willpower and ambition if aimed at ambitious international goals under section 115 of the Clean Air Act or a National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS), and designed to address state policy priorities. The article reviews mandatory duties under the Clean Air Act for EPA to proceed under one or both approaches that are plausible options, as they can be enforced pursuant to a citizen suit. The authors conclude that the section 115 international approach, if strategically used, is more likely to achieve the necessary reductions within the necessary time frame. The article examines other mechanisms whereby international and state-level litigation is driving more comprehensive, multi objective approaches likely to build willpower and ambition. The article concludes with recommended policy approaches consistent with the Trump Administration’s announced priorities that can achieve emissions reductions in the process of meeting immediate national needs.
Keywords: UNFCCC, Paris Agreement, greenhouse gases, willpower, ambition, Clean Air Act, Clean Power Plan, NAAQS, mandatory duty, state climate planning, SIP, section 115
JEL Classification: K32, K33, Q54, F5, F64
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation