ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Paradigm Shift in Paris

Will countries reduce carbon emissions without mandatory limits?

In early December, more than 190 countries negotiated the Paris agreement on climate change. Commentators, including in India, have disagreed wildly in their interpretation of the agreement. It has been called everything from a historic outcome to a sham.

Part of the challenge of interpreting the Paris agreement is its unconventional nature. Instead of seeking to bind countries to substantive outcomes, such as numerical limits on greenhouse gases (GHGs), it sets in place procedural requirements, such as those for updating and submitting voluntary national “contributions” towards a common global goal of limiting temperature increase. Hence, while the Paris agreement is legally binding, it is these procedures that countries are bound to, rather than any commitments to limit emissions.

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