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Carbon Pricing and the 1.5°C Target: Near-Term Decarbonisation and the Importance of an Instrument Mix journal article

Michael Mehling, Endre Tvinnereim

Carbon & Climate Law Review, Volume 12 (2018), Issue 1, Page 50 - 61

Carbon pricing is routinely presented as the most efficient way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore as an indispensable pillar of ambitious climate policy. For incremental emission reductions on the margin, this static perspective may be correct, expressing the ability of carbon pricing to identify and spur abatement options with the lowest cost. At the same time, meeting the 1.5°C target requires achievement of zero net emissions in the relatively near term, implying a need for full decarbonisation rather than marginal abatement. To date, there is only limited empirical evidence suggesting that carbon pricing has produced deep emission cuts. Emission reductions triggered by carbon taxes and emissions trading systems are typically modest or relate to a baseline rather than absolute levels, even in cases where price levels are relatively high. Consequently, we posit that deep decarbonisation in line with the 1.5°C target can only be ensured by drawing on a portfolio approach, in which carbon pricing operates alongside other instruments including regulation and legal mandates.

Editorial ∙ Negotiating the Paris Rulebook: Introduction to the Special Issue journal article free

Harro van Asselt, Kati Kulovesi, Michael Mehling

Carbon & Climate Law Review, Volume 12 (2018), Issue 3, Page 173 - 183

At COP24 in Katowice in December 2018, Parties to the Paris Agreement on climate change are due to adopt the ‘Paris Rulebook’, with a view to providing detailed guidance to Parties in the implementation of the Agreement. Negotiations on the Paris Rulebook cover a variety of issues that were left unresolved in Paris, including further guidance for the contents and features of Parties’ five-yearly nationally determined contributions (NDCs), accounting rules, modalities for the Agreement’s review mechanisms (transparency framework, global stocktake and implementation and compliance mechanism), and rules for the operation of the new cooperative mechanisms established by the Agreement. With COP24 fast approaching, this special issue offers an overview of the negotiations on the Rulebook. In this introductory overview, we summarise the various contributions, place them in the broader context of international climate cooperation, and highlight interlinkages between the various issues under negotiation. We conclude with a brief discussion of the possible outcomes of the negotiations process, and the likely implications of the Paris Rulebook going forward.

A New Direction for US Climate Policy: journal article

Assessing the First 100 Days of Donald Trump’s Presidency

Michael Mehling

Carbon & Climate Law Review, Volume 11 (2017), Issue 1, Page 3 - 24

Following his surprise election, President Trump has translated several campaign promises into a relentless progression of executive measures. This article traces the first 100 days of his presidency as they relate to climate and energy policy, assessing the impact of personnel choices, his regulatory reform agenda, and his proposed budget blueprint, as well as executive or agency orders across various sectors. It also differentiates between the expected impact of federal policy choices and fundamental trends in the energy sector as well as the activist role of states and municipalities in shaping climate policy outcomes. Finally, the article discusses procedural constraints and judicial review as moderating forces, limiting the scale and speed with which the new president can overturn the climate legacy of his predecessor. In the end, the article argues that a retrospective of recent administrations reveals a cyclical pattern which both confines and perpetuates the alternating extremes of successive presidencies.