IntroductionAclean environment is a vital thing for the existence of healthy human being.There is no alternative to clean air for breathing, clean water for drinkingand a clean environment for existence. But the daily activities of human beingsare changing the quality of these valuable components. In fact we arecontributing so much pollutants to the environment and atmosphere that we areabout to distort our surrounding environment gradually and climate change isone of the severe outcome. It would be quite fair to say that we areexperiencing the most bizarrely strange climate of all time.
Before driftingthis situations even worse we must act unitedly and actively to tackle thegreatest challenge of the century. United nation framework for convention ofclimate change (UNFCCC) is the international environmental treaty which isworking to make the whole world united to focus on the global problem, climatechange. It was formed in 9th may 1992 at Rio de Janeiro. After thatevery year a convention was organized for the parties from almost the wholeworld to join, discuss, and negotiate regarding the challenge, by UNFCCC and itis called COP ( Conference of Parties). According to the consequence, we gotthe Paris Agreement (21st COP), A recent successful meeting of 195 signatories including169 parties with elaborate infrastructure of adoption of goals and commitmentsin terms of reduction of emissions (UNFCCC, 2015a). And Parisagreement doesn’t force to make a goal or target and to achieve it within anexact time but it say that the targets that every country intended to set,should go beyond the previous target. The historical Paris agreement states theglobal aims in Article 2, that to be achieved in the upcoming years by the collectivecontributions of the parties. According to Paris Agreement:A.
Itstates to reduce the global average temperature below 2 degree centigrade abovepre-industrial levels. It also expects that the result is better in terms ofreducing the risks and impacts of climate change when the global averagetemperature is below 1.5 degree centigrade above pre industrial level (UNFCCC, 2015b).B. Adaptationto the negative effects of climate change, climate resilience and low GHGsemission development should practice in a way that doesn’t reach threats tofood production.C. Makingfinance flows consistent with a pathway towards low GHGs emissions and climateresilient development (UNFCCC. Conference of the Parties (COP), 2015).
Toattain these long-term goals of this agreement, Nationally determinedcontributions (NDC) are considered as a vital and heart point. NDC isdetermined by every countries individually and it indicates the target andcontributions which every member country should make to reach the goals set byParis agreement. According to the Article 3of Paris agreement, NDC should beambitious that means the target and contributions of emission reduction set byindividual countries has to be even lower than the previous target andcontributions.
And the results should be reported every 5 years. This also hasto be registered by the secretariat of UNFCCC. Although Paris Agreement doesnot force the countries to set the contributions and targets as it’s not alegal binding, but through NDC, the Agreement has produced highly ambitiousmitigation goals and made 100 of national governments to hold the promises thatthey made. In Paris Agreement, the first NDCs will become INDC (IntendedNationally Determined Contributions) once a party ratifies the agreement and donot make a new NDC ate the same time (UNFCCC. Conference of the Parties (COP), 2015).Climatechange is a global problem and threat to almost the whole world. So, theconsequences of this problem will make suffer every part of the world. Totackle the problem unitedly and efficiently, Paris Agreement recognizes thevital character of local and subnational governments of the world.
According tothe Agreement, parties admit that all the national, subnational, local andinternational dimensions are being challenged by the global contests ofadaptation, which is a must necessary element to safeguard human, ecosystem,livelihoods from the long term effect of climate change by considering thebasic and instant needs of those parties who are developing and more vulnerableto the negative impacts of climate change (UNDESA, 2016). This statementindicates that the planning and implementations is incomplete and ineffective withoutthe involvements of local and subnational level of governments and if theplanning and implementation is incomplete and ineffective than we can’t evendream of adaptation. Besides local and subnational level government involvementby taking actions such as low carbon support, renewable energy production anduse, de-carbonization of construction and transport divisions and climatechange awareness campaign can significantly contribute to achieve the aim ofParis Agreement. In this report, power of subnational government, local(sovereign) government and their legal commitments are to be discussed in thelight of Paris Agreement.Subnational Governments and TheirActions on Climate Change Adispersed body that has been elected through universal voting with some commonand wide- ranging duties, responsibilities and accountabilities are called asubnational government, which is to some extent autonomous regarding financialplan (budget), supervise and resources. When a subnational government isautonomous, they have certain decision making and implementation power. And theyare not bound to follow a central proposal made by the national government. Nowit draws our attention that Paris Agreement generates a global agenda fortackling climate change issue by making sure that the policies and legalactivities that are already happening in local or sub-national dimensions facesno impediment.
And a good logic behind this can be NDCs achievement, which isbeing buoyed by these existing actions in these sub national level. Accordingto a report of 2015 by “World Bank’s State and Trends of Carbon Pricing”, thecarbon pricing schemes are being implemented more and since 2012 the number hasbeen doubled. And over 35 nations and more than 20 cities and regions holdcarbon price instruments (WorldBank, 2015). Andapproximately 1000 and 500 million tons of CO2 are covered by carbonschemes in China and USA respectively. This outcomes can help to achieve NDCsgoal for a country significantly and Paris Agreement encourages such kind ofinitiatives. All the SNGs as a group represents a huge number of world’spopulation and Paris Agreement witnessed some massive initiatives taken by SNGsregarding climate change. Some major highpoints are mentioned below:1. Therewere about 58 new signatories to the “Under 2 MOU”, which is a commitment toreduce the emissions 80-95% or limit to two metric tons CO2equivalent per capita within 2050 (MOU, 2015).
2. “Compactof Mayors” was launched in 2014 and then it extended to almost 450 cities where22 cities were from California and 392 cities had took commitments to take effectiveactions to mitigate climate change. The infrastructure of “Compact of Mayors’consists four phases by which SNGs took the commitments and the SNGs mustengage to these phases over 3 years. Each phase has two step process ofMitigation and Adaptation.Phase1 is Commitment where in the Mitigation interphase cities were dedicated toreduce local GHGs emissions, measuring community emissions inventory using theGPC, to develop a data based targets and climate action plan. And in Adaptationinterphase cities were committed to address and evaluate the climate changeimpacts, climate hazards identification, assessment of vulnerabilities and todevelop a Climate adaptation plan.
Phase2 is Inventory where in the Mitigation interphase cities committed to form acommunity with wide GHGs inventory with GPC standard and report through CDP.And in adaptation interphase cities were stimulated to recognize climatehazards and report through CDP.MemberSNGs of Compact of Mayors set the target in phase 3. And in Mitigationinterphase they were committed to reduce emissions from waste subdivision,setting a target of emission reduction and report through CDP. And inAdaptation stage cities took commitment to operate a compact guidance in orderto measure the vulnerabilities of climate change and report to CDP.Andin the last phase “Plan” cities were committed to develop a Climate Action Planto reduce the GHGs emissions and to fine-tune with projected impacts of climatechange for the Mitigation and Adaptation interphase respectively (Nations, States, & Union, 2014).3. SouthAustralian government announced with a solemn promise that Adelaide city willbe the first carbon neutral city in the world and will have net “0” emissionswithin 2050 (Harrington, Johnston, & Harrington, 2015).
4. AustralianCapital Territory Government and many state and local governments did sign”Paris City Hall Declaration at the Climate Summit for Local Leaders” in whichthey were committed to reduce 80% of their emissions within 2050 and 100%renewable energy use (Hall et al., 2015).
Besides,lots of SNGs became more aware to take effective initiatives regarding climateactions by taking individual pledges and commitments. For instance, about sixthousands European provinces, municipalities and regions intended to comeacross the 20% emission reduction challenge by 2020 through “Covenant ofMayors” and now these cities looking forward to 2030 targets (argues Kata Tütt?, 2015). And many ofSNGs has adopted convenient framework offered by many collaborative sectors tobuild and increase capacity and to utilize energy, wastes, and transportationsin more environmental friendly way.
And one of the most comprehensive Agreementthat the world has witnessed in COP 21 added extra accelerations to theseinitiatives taken by SNGs and National governments has nothing to do with it.National Governments and TheirActions and Commitments on Climate ChangeCOP21 produced a comprehensive and all-inclusive framework where 195 countries andEU agreed to have sets of binding procedural and practical commitments. It tookyears of negotiations under the UNFCCC to have this Climate Agreement evenafter knowing that first attempt was not successful to have a treaty agreed byall the member parties in Copenhagen 2009.Oncethe agreement enters into force, it will be a legal binding for the parties (Bodansky, 2016).
Everycountries are committed to have required activities to achieve the global goalby keeping temperature rise below 2 degree centigrade (UNFCCC. Conference of the Parties (COP), 2015). A collectivegoal of balancing the emissions within 2050 was also set under the agreement.To put these global goal achieving actions in track all parties/NationalGovernments committed to “prepare, communicate and maintain” consecutive NDCs,to “pursue domestic mitigation measures” intended to achieve their NDCs and toreport on emissions and to keep progressing on the implementation of their NDCsby signing the agreement. Although the achievement of each party’s NDCs is notlegally binding obligation, they signed the agreement with the commitment ofrepresenting a progression on its NDCs until the uppermost conceivabledetermination.
AsParis Agreement contains a review of adaptation improvement, sufficiency andefficacy of adaptation support in “Global Stocktake” to be undertaken everysingle 5 years (Presidency & Page, 2017). Partiespledged to make plan and implement the adaptation measures and to report ontheir necessities and efforts. To support developing countries to maintaintheir mitigation and adaptation efforts, developed countries are committedunder UNFCCC (UNFCCC, 2007). Developedcountries had made a commitment in COP 15 and COP 16 to assemble one hundredbillion dollar as Green climate Fund (GCF) every year till 2020 (UNFCCC. Conference of the Parties (COP), 2011). And COP 21restates that GCF goals till 2025 and developed countries agreed to it. Somecountry pledged to provide funding support on their own free will (Mckenzie, 2015).
For example,China promised to mobilize 3 billion dollar for other developing countries inorder to support adaptation and mitigation measures (Khor, 2017). AsParis agreement emphasizes on low carbon technology, it also encourage theparties who has already developed these green technologies to deploy all overthe world rapidly. For the sake of climate resilience enhancement and GHGsemission reduction, developed countries were agreed to share the greentechnologies and to arrange for capacity building support towards developingcountries (UNFCCC. Conference of the Parties (COP), 2015).Inarticle 5 of Paris Agreement, it inspires the parties to avoid deforestation,manage forests sustainably. It also says to make result based payment on thebasis of the quantity of extra carbon that the being paid country keeps lockedin forests, which consequences reduction of deforestation. And by ratifying it,parties shown their keenness to avoid deforestation and sustainable managementof forest (UNFCCC, 2015b).
Withdrawal of a National Governmentfrom Paris AgreementAsParis Agreement has set a super elaborate and comprehensive framework tofollow, it has also some procedures to maintain if a party wants to get himselfwithdraw from it. In article 28, it says, “A party can withdraw from the Agreement any time after 3 years of enteringinto force for a party. And the party has to give a written announcement to theDepositary”(UNFCCC, 2015b).Italso says, “Any such withdrawal shalltake effect upon expiry of one year from the date of receipt by the Depositaryof the announcement of withdrawal, or on such later dates as may be specifiedin the notification of withdrawal”(UNFCCC, 2015b). Andas Paris Agreement has come into force on 4th of November 2016, theearliest date would be 4th of November 2020 for the party who wantsto withdraw them from this Agreement (McBride, 2017). However theAgreement’s door is always open for the parties to join who has already left (UNFCCC, 2015b).Now,United States of America, One of the biggest carbon emitter, has declared toget themselves out from the Paris agreement (Zhang, Chao, Zheng, & Huang, 2017).
And U.S.Awould be the great example to analysis the power of sovereign and localgovernment, what they can do and what can’t do as their national government haswithdrawn from the agreement.Domestic procedures of U.S.AAccordingto United States law, the president is the one who make decisions on how thecountry will join an international agreement and the president authorizes it onbehalf of the country.
And to some extent both political and legalcontemplations are depends on the decision of the president. And there are lawfuleight factors that are to be considered for closing an international agreement.These factors are not any sort of legal constraints to the president (Bodansky, 2015). The Departmentof State’s Foreign Affairs Manual says the factors are:· To what level the agreement includes thecommitments and risks that may affect the country.· Is the agreement or its intention goingto affect the state laws or nor.
· Is the agreement consequences the effectwithout the enactment of following legislation by the congress or not.· Earlier United States repetition as toalike agreements.· Congress’s preference as to a specificform of agreement.· The extent of required formalities for anagreement.· The projected duration, necessity ofrapid decisions and its interest of finalizing a plan or short term agreement.· General international practice as tosimilar agreements (Bodansky, 2015).State’s Independence andLimitationsAsParis Agreement is a guideline to save the world and working to make sure aclean and comfortable earth for all of us, it inspires every levels to comeforward and take actions.
Although United States has already declared towithdraw yet some state government still considers themselves into the ParisAgreement. Voluntarily state governments can contribute to reach the NDCstarget. It would be quite fair to say that the sovereign government are thatmuch independent to take actions to make the Paris goals come true partially orcompletely even after their national government are not interested.Theoretically, sovereign governments can reduce emissions in so many wayswithout the help of federal government (Plumer, 2017). By calling forelectric utilities for more renewable energy use, adjusting infrastructuralcodes and execute stronger proficiency standards on utilizations (Larsen, Larsen, Herndon, & Houser, 2017). They can bringchanges on transportation infrastructure by calling for automakers formarketing more electric vehicles like California and numerous Northeast states.An analysis by Rhodium Group has found that the state’s emission fromelectricity will reduce to half concerning 2005 and 2025 as the alliance statesare motivated to cleaning up the electric grids (Plumer, 2017).
And by usingnew technologies states can make decarburizations at ease. It can be betterbatteries or other low carbon producing utilities to incorporate wind and solaror capturing carbon for cement plants (Larsen et al., 2017).
However,the approval of an agreement of climate change are hinged by the legal analysisconcerning the constitutional acceptance on governmental and sensiblecontemplations even after the president chooses to support it or to refer itfor the approval of Senate or Congress. And the president has the ability to gointo an agreement without Senate or Congress’s approval (Bodansky, 2015).Still,the sovereign government can voluntarily follow the Paris Agreement by reducingemissions, which ultimately contribute the NDCs of U.S.A although U.S.A haswithdrawn from it.
So many Mayors are taking their commitments and making plansto align with the other parties of United Nations concerning climate change (Walker, 2017). The group ofmayors that represents about 44 American states expressed their intentionsregarding climate change by announcing themselves to involve in renewableenergy and energy efficiency by increasing the investment (Walker, 2017). They alsodeclared to cut their GHGs emissions, create a Clean Energy Economy and to takepositions for environmental justice in spite of their president’s unwillingnessto adoption of Paris Agreement.
And these spirit of the Mayors inspired so manygovernors to take actions at their state level. There is a group formed “We AreStill In” consists of more than thousand groups and their intention is toreduce the country’s emissions and to reach the aim of Paris Agreement and nowthey has declared their updated intentions to tackle climate change in COP 23 (Forum, 2017). In the ClimateMayors statement, the mayors expects the Paris accord to be adopted collectivelyand to drive for even stronger climate actions and to work as a group (Walker, 2017). SomeBipartisan mayors took the determinations to run their cities entirely based onrenewable energy like wind and solar energy, in two decades (Licon, 2017). In the U.
Sconference of Mayors 2017, most mayors has made a pact to keep improving theirworks to maintain the terms and aims of Paris climate consensus in spite ofknowing that their president are not in the Agreement (Mayors, 2017). Approximately25 cities including San Diego and Salt Lake City has taken the clean-energypolicy. Some smaller cities like Colorado, Burlington, and Aspen hassuccessfully generated 100% of energy from renewable source (Licon, 2017). Althoughlocal and sovereign governments and cities are taking intense actions fromtheir positions to reach the goals of Paris climate accord, it’s no secret thatit will add an extra power and supremacy to the climate actions when theirNational Government decides to stay in the Paris Agreement. ConclusionOverallParis Agreement has been able to identify the role of SNGs and Localgovernments properly.
As it was decided in the Agreement that each country willextend their climate commitments through NDCs and will report to the UNFCCCsecretariat about their emission reductions and adaptation goals till 2030,SNGs will make these climate actions easier for the countries to maintain andstay on track. It is no secret that it’s almost unmanageable for a country totake climate actions and implement those properly without its cities andstructural frameworks assigned by the states (Pasquale Capizzi, Emily Castro, Ingrid Gonzalez,Robert Kehew, Jakob Lindemann, Patricia Lizarazo, Tangmar Marmon, 2017). So, as thenational commitments should be ambitious according to Paris Agreement- the NDCsfor example, it is no difficult when regional and subnational governments arewell integrated in the national climate policies. Some organization has formedby recognizing these potential to empower local and subnational governments,ICLEI (International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives which hasrenamed to Local Governments for Sustainability) for instance. ICLEI formed in1990 with two hundreds city leaders from 50 different country. Since then ithas been participating in negotiations and implementation of internationalclimate issues under UN conventions as a representative of regional and local viewpoint.According to the ICLEI Paris Declaration to the Ministers at Cop 21, 2015,”ICLEI and partners will continue empowering local and SNGs for fightingcontrary to climate change and other issues regarding sustainability by emphasizingon:· Inspire, expand and scale up localclimate action· Intensify, deepen, and integrate climateaction within all areas of sustainability· Connect, include, and engage withgovernments and stakeholders· Encourage transparent, accountable, andopen municipal actions and governance· Resource, empower, and advocate fortransformative actions” (ICLEI, 2015)Itis an open secret that no policy or agreement can solve the global problemClimate Change unless the world actively participate in the actions against itunitedly. However, Paris Agreement is considered as a successful conclusion oflocal and subnational government climate initiatives in terms of mobilizations,recognitions and empowerment.
And the number of SNGs are increasing with theactive participation to combat climate change which will lead a greensustainable world with a better climate in near future.