The Paris Agreement: Short-Term and Long-Term Effectiveness

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

The Paris Agreement: Short-Term and Long-Term Effectiveness

  • Guri Bang Center for International Climate and Environmental Research, Norway
  • Jon Hovi Department of Political Science, University of Oslo, Norway
  • Tora Skodvin Department of Political Science, University of Oslo, Norway

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Abstract:  The 2015 Paris Agreement was widely greeted with enthusiasm. We assess the short-term and long-term potential effectiveness of Paris. Concerning short-term effectiveness, we contend that while Paris scores high on participation, and reasonably high on the depth of the parties’ commitments (ambition), its Achilles’ heel will likely be compliance. Concerning long-term effectiveness, we argue that Paris does little to restructure states’ incentives so as to avoid free riding. At worst, it might end up as a failure, much like Kyoto did. On the other hand, domestic and international norms could continue to develop in a direction that makes it more and more difficult for individuals, firms, and states alike to ignore the plea to limit and reduce their carbon footprints. Technological progress that gradually reduces abatement costs, combined with leadership by major emitters such as the United States, might further strengthen climate cooperation and enhance other countries’ willingness to follow through. However, deep political polarization continues to represent a significant barrier to U.S. leadership on climate change.

Keywords:  climate change mitigation; climate cooperation; effectiveness, international leadership; Paris Agreement; U.S.

Published:   8 September 2016


© Guri Bang, Jon Hovi, Tora Skodvin. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.