A Parisian Consensus

50 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2021

Date Written: January 15, 2021


Climate change is rightfully perceived as the leading challenge for our age. But global climate action so far has proved unable to meet the moment. This article argues that the reason for the current policy impasse is that the focus lies on climate change as an environmental problem as opposed to an energy problem. Once we switch perspectives, we can see that world society is trapped in an energy trilemma between energy equity (driven by concerns of access to affordable energy), energy security (driven by concerns for a reliable supply of energy), and environmental sustainability (driven by a concern to halt climate change). We can only escape the trilemma when we rebalance the three limbs against each other. I propose that a commons governance approach can achieve this goal.

I argue that for any such approach to work, we must rely heavily one of today’s great bugbears: economic globalization. I submit that the existing legal framework supporting globalization known as Washington consensus instruments can in fact be fused with the global climate framework under the Paris Agreement to give rise to a Paris consensus on global energy governance. This Paris consensus builds on and expands an existing global legal infrastructure to slingshot us past the current climate impasse. It differs from existing approaches to climate governance by insisting upon a developmental imperative: we must expand rather than restrict energy access to create an energy infrastructure capable of supporting equitable development. I submit that this development perspective can succeed where existing approaches have stalled: generate realistic buy-in for a global, sustainable energy future.

Keywords: climate change, energy, energy law, international environmental law, Paris Agreement, Washington consensus

Suggested Citation

Sourgens, Freddy G., A Parisian Consensus (January 15, 2021). Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3767078

Freddy G. Sourgens (Contact Author)

Washburn University - School of Law ( email )

1700 College Avenue
Topeka, KS 66621
United States

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