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COP25 in Search of Lost Time for Action: An Assessment of the Madrid Climate Conference journal article

Wolfgang Obergassel, Christof Arens, Christiane Beuermann, Lukas Hermwille, Nicolas Kreibich, Hermann E Ott, Meike Spitzner

Carbon & Climate Law Review, Volume 14 (2020), Issue 1, Page 3 - 17

Last year's conference of the global climate change regime took place from 2 until 15 December 2019 in Madrid, Spain. Despite marking a new record for overtime in the history of the UNFCCC, the conference did not only fail to meet the increasing public demand for swift and strong climate action, it also failed on its formal mandate to finalise the Paris rulebook. A record number of issues were left unresolved and shelved for the next session. COP25 thereby highlighted how much work still lies ahead both domestically and internationally if 2020 is to see a step-up in climate action that is consistent with the long-term goal of the Paris Agreement.


Paris Agreement: Ship Moves Out of the Drydock journal article

An Assessment of COP24 in Katowice

Wolfgang Obergassel, Christof Arens, Lukas Hermwille, Nicolas Kreibich, Hermann E. Ott, Hanna Wang-Helmreich

Carbon & Climate Law Review, Volume 13 (2019), Issue 1, Page 3 - 18

Last year's conference of the global climate change regime took place from 2 until 15 December 2018 in Katowice, Poland. The conference had two main objectives: operationalising the Paris Agreement by adopting detailed rules for its implementation, and starting the process of strengthening Parties' climate protection contributions. This article covers the negotiations on these two sets of issues and also includes a discussion of other recent climate activities by Parties and non-Party actors. Success of the negotiations in Katowice was far from assured, but in the end COP24 concluded with the adoption of the ‘Katowice Climate Package’ setting out detailed guidelines on how to implement its various elements. However, the conference fell short on the first objective, none of the major emitting countries was ready to step up its climate ambition. The most important aspect of the Katowice outcome is therefore that it has brought the wrangling about implementation procedures to a close, making way for the true task at hand: the strengthening of national and international activities to protect the climate and the implementation of the existing pledges. Arguably, a key factor that has been slowing down climate policy is the power of entrenched interests. The article therefore concludes with a reflection on how such barriers to climate action may be overcome and what role future COPs may play in this regard.


Does the Climate Regime Need New Types of Mitigation Commitments? journal article

Wolfgang Sterk, Lukas Hermwille

Carbon & Climate Law Review, Volume 7 (2013), Issue 4, Page 270 - 282

Apart from the much-debated question of what legal form the 2015 climate agreement is supposed to have, another core issue is the substantive content of countries’ commitments. While the climate regime has so far mostly been based on emission targets, literature has identified a broad range of other possible types of mitigation commitments, such as technology targets, emission price commitments, or commitments to specific policies and measures (PAMs). The nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) submitted by developing countries under the Cancún Agreements also show a broad range of different forms of participation. This article surveys the possible commitment types that have so far been discussed in literature and in the UNFCCC negotiations and assesses their respective advantages and disadvantages against a set of criteria: environmental effectiveness, cost effectiveness, distributional aspects and institutional feasibility. The article finds that no commitment option provides a silver bullet. All options have several advantages but also disadvantages. The environmentally most effective way forward may lie in pursuing a multi-dimensional approach, combining emission targets with other commitment types to compensate for the drawbacks of the emission-based approach. However, such an approach would also increase complexity, both in terms of the negotiations and in terms of implementation and administration.

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