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Dangerous Incrementalism of the Paris Agreement

Allan, Jen Iris ORCID: 2019. Dangerous Incrementalism of the Paris Agreement. Global Environmental Politics 19 (1) , pp. 4-11. 10.1162/glep_a_00488

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After a decade of negotiation, countries adopted a new, legally binding agreement on climate change. Excitement for a new era in the climate regime is palpable among pundits and policy makers alike. But such enthusiasm largely overlooks that most of the Paris Agreement’s provisions represent continuity with existent climate policy, not a break with the past. This forum argues that the Paris Agreement is a dangerous form of incrementalism in two ways. First, it repackages existing rules that have already proven inadequate to reduce emissions and improve resilience. Second, states and nonstate actors celebrate the Agreement as a solution, conferring legitimacy on its rules; I suggest that, beyond the strong desire to avoid failure, developing countries and nongovernmental organizations accepted the Paris Agreement to secure the participation of the United States and to uphold previous agreements. Given the reification of existing rules, the ratchet-up mechanism and nonstate actors offer the last remaining hope in global efforts to catalyze climate action on a scale necessary to safeguard the global climate.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Law
Publisher: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press
ISSN: 1526-3800
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 8 February 2019
Date of Acceptance: 8 November 2018
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2023 02:16

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