Pledging, Populism, and the Paris Agreement: The Paradox of a Management-Based Approach to Global Governance
Maryland Journal of International Law, Vol. 34, p. 139, 2019
42 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2019 Last revised: 22 Jan 2020
Date Written: 2019
For many observers, the Paris Agreement signaled a historic breakthrough in addressing the problem of global warming. In its basic design, however, the Agreement is far from novel. Its dependence on each nation’s self-determined pledge to reduce greenhouse gases mirrors the domestic policy strategy called management-based regulation—a flexible regulatory approach that has been used to address problems as varied as food safety and toxic air pollution. In this article, I connect insights from research on management-based regulation to the international governance of climate change. Unfortunately, management-based regulation’s track-record at the domestic level gives little reason to expect that the Paris Agreement will lead to major long-term behavioral change needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Although a management-based regulatory strategy may have been the best option available for securing a widespread global climate agreement, this strategy seems to offer little assurance of forward momentum on climate policy due to an inherent paradox created by the Agreement’s management-based design: global progress will depend on domestic politics. Especially given the rise of nationalistic populism around the world, the Paris Agreement will succeed only if political efforts within individual countries push back the threat to global cooperation posed by populism and convince domestic leaders to support serious climate action.
Keywords: Paris Climate Accords, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, environmental law & policy, international agreements, global governance, meta-regulation, voluntary regulatory programs, public policy analysis, populist movements, self-regulation, pledge & review
JEL Classification: D78, F53, K32, K33, L59, Q54, Q58
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation