Paris Agreement, Article 2: Aims Objectives and Principles

28 Pages Posted: 5 Feb 2020 Last revised: 24 Mar 2020

Date Written: February 3, 2020


This chapter provides a critical commentary of Article 2 of the Paris Agreement. Article 2 is the key provision of the much-lauded Paris Agreement, setting its key ‘target temperature’ – “well below 2°C” – and giving a novel degree of prominent to climate adaptation and finance. Although ostensibly focusing on its aims, objectives and principles, the paper argues that Article 2 is also the product of questionable compromises that may well undermine the core objectives of the entire climate regime. The language of Article has made more challenging the task of enforcing climate law, and distorted the concept of differentiation. These weaknesses, now hardwired into the international framework for climate action, create a legal void into which national and regional processes of constitutionalism must now step. The paper sets out a framework for the creation of credible commitments in national law, and their attainment. It remains to be seen whether systems of constitutional law can bear this weight placed upon them by an inadequate international regime.

NB: The paper also addresses the implications of the UK Plan B/Heathrow airport decision

Keywords: Paris Agreement, Article 2, Temperature Target, Adaptation, Finance, Differentiation, Credible Commitments, Climate Constitutionalism

Suggested Citation

Ghaleigh, Navraj Singh, Paris Agreement, Article 2: Aims Objectives and Principles (February 3, 2020). Edinburgh School of Law Research Paper No. 2020/02, Available at SSRN: or

Navraj Singh Ghaleigh (Contact Author)

University of Edinburgh - School of Law ( email )

Old College
South Bridge
Edinburgh, EH8 9YL
United Kingdom

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