Kilian Raiser, Hertie School of Governance

On December 12th, 2015, the global climate governance regime entered a new era. The 195 member states to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the “Paris Agreement”, a legal treaty with the specific target of keeping levels of global warming “well below” an agreed threshold of 1.5 - 2 Degrees Celsius. Considering the failure of previous UNFCCC summits in producing any meaningful cooperation amongst member states, the Paris Agreement can be considered a resounding diplomatic success. Through an innovative “pledge and review” process the Paris Agreement guaranteed the broad participation of all parties, albeit at the expense of not including binding emission reduction targets (Dröge, 2016).  With warming projections based on current pledges falling short of the 2 Degree warming threshold (UNEP, 2017), the effectiveness of the pledge and review mechanism has been questioned (Crampton, Ockenfels and Tirole, 2017). The future success of the Agreement will depend on the extent to which emission reductions can be “ratcheted up” (Bodansky, 2016), a process that is envisioned in Article 4 of the Agreement. Ensuring more ambitious targets over time through the right design of institutions and instruments requires close study of the mechanisms of the Paris Agreement. This “Post-Paris” process, however, is not sufficiently understood. Whilst there is a large body of literature analyzing the pros and cons of a non-binding, “bottom up” approach to international climate governance, gaps exist in understanding the actual mechanism by which the agreement proposes to limit global greenhouse gas emissions, and the ways in which this mechanism will need to develop in the future to ensure that the global target of “well below 2 degrees” warming is met. I propose to advance the current understanding of the Paris regime by using innovative research methods to provide recommendations on how to advance the Post-Paris process to achieve the well-below-2-degree target. I will focus my study on how the pledge and review mechanism, as the primary means by which to ensure international cooperation on climate change, must be developed in the future to ensure the Paris Agreement’s mitigation targets are met.