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Paris Agreement Flexibility

Ondřej Havlín 11.4.2021
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Second, it must „concisely clarify“ its capacity bottlenecks, which require particular flexibility. It does not have to justify the application of flexibility (and the verification procedure cannot question its application), but it must explain its capacity needs. Together, these examples of non-governmental and sub-national measures reflect strong momentum in reducing emissions and combating climate change. We expect this dynamic to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States by 2025. If non-state and sub-national measures are combined with expected cost reductions through technological progress and learning, there is a chance of even greater momentum. There is still multi-party support for market-based approaches, but it is not clear that the tax reform negotiations will provide a forum for this debate. Congress and the administration should take note of these developments and the willingness to act domestically, and consider a solution-oriented path. As discussed, we believe that the Paris Agreement allows policy makers to be very flexible in adopting a wide range of approaches to achieving emissions reduction targets. After Paris, technical negotiators had to develop modalities, procedures and guidelines (short for „GPG“), which were both „common“ and faced with capacity constraints. They were essentially confronted with three dimensions of flexibility: who would be entitled to flexibility; what flexibilities would apply, including whether they would be applied on a cross-cutting basis or on the basis of availability; and when they show up. There was an obvious relationship between dimensions. On the one hand, if they were all very broad, flexibility could de facto transform the common system into two separate systems; On the other hand, if they were all very narrow, the system would not adequately meet the needs of legitimate capabilities.

A careful balance was required. Third, the flexibilities themselves (the „what“) are considerably limited. There is no stiff flexibility; On the contrary, flexibility is defined only in certain provisions (mainly with regard to the reporting of greenhouse gas inventories).

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