clean environment is a vital thing for the existence of healthy human being.
There is no alternative to clean air for breathing, clean water for drinking
and a clean environment for existence. But the daily activities of human beings
are changing the quality of these valuable components. In fact we are
contributing so much pollutants to the environment and atmosphere that we are
about to distort our surrounding environment gradually and climate change is
one of the severe outcome. It would be quite fair to say that we are
experiencing the most bizarrely strange climate of all time. Before drifting
this situations even worse we must act unitedly and actively to tackle the
greatest challenge of the century. United nation framework for convention of
climate change (UNFCCC) is the international environmental treaty which is
working to make the whole world united to focus on the global problem, climate
change. It was formed in 9th may 1992 at Rio de Janeiro. After that
every year a convention was organized for the parties from almost the whole
world to join, discuss, and negotiate regarding the challenge, by UNFCCC and it
is called COP ( Conference of Parties). According to the consequence, we got
the Paris Agreement (21st COP), A recent successful meeting of 195 signatories including
169 parties with elaborate infrastructure of adoption of goals and commitments
in terms of reduction of emissions (UNFCCC, 2015a). And Paris
agreement doesn’t force to make a goal or target and to achieve it within an
exact time but it say that the targets that every country intended to set,
should go beyond the previous target. The historical Paris agreement states the
global aims in Article 2, that to be achieved in the upcoming years by the collective
contributions of the parties. According to Paris Agreement:
states to reduce the global average temperature below 2 degree centigrade above
pre-industrial levels. It also expects that the result is better in terms of
reducing the risks and impacts of climate change when the global average
temperature is below 1.5 degree centigrade above pre industrial level (UNFCCC, 2015b).
to the negative effects of climate change, climate resilience and low GHGs
emission development should practice in a way that doesn’t reach threats to
finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low GHGs emissions and climate
resilient development (UNFCCC. Conference of the Parties (COP), 2015).
attain these long-term goals of this agreement, Nationally determined
contributions (NDC) are considered as a vital and heart point. NDC is
determined by every countries individually and it indicates the target and
contributions which every member country should make to reach the goals set by
Paris agreement. According to the Article 3of Paris agreement, NDC should be
ambitious that means the target and contributions of emission reduction set by
individual countries has to be even lower than the previous target and
contributions. And the results should be reported every 5 years. This also has
to be registered by the secretariat of UNFCCC. Although Paris Agreement does
not force the countries to set the contributions and targets as it’s not a
legal binding, but through NDC, the Agreement has produced highly ambitious
mitigation goals and made 100 of national governments to hold the promises that
they made. In Paris Agreement, the first NDCs will become INDC (Intended
Nationally Determined Contributions) once a party ratifies the agreement and do
not make a new NDC ate the same time (UNFCCC. Conference of the Parties (COP), 2015).
change is a global problem and threat to almost the whole world. So, the
consequences of this problem will make suffer every part of the world. To
tackle the problem unitedly and efficiently, Paris Agreement recognizes the
vital character of local and subnational governments of the world. According to
the Agreement, parties admit that all the national, subnational, local and
international dimensions are being challenged by the global contests of
adaptation, which is a must necessary element to safeguard human, ecosystem,
livelihoods from the long term effect of climate change by considering the
basic and instant needs of those parties who are developing and more vulnerable
to the negative impacts of climate change (UNDESA, 2016). This statement
indicates that the planning and implementations is incomplete and ineffective without
the involvements of local and subnational level of governments and if the
planning and implementation is incomplete and ineffective than we can’t even
dream of adaptation. Besides local and subnational level government involvement
by taking actions such as low carbon support, renewable energy production and
use, de-carbonization of construction and transport divisions and climate
change awareness campaign can significantly contribute to achieve the aim of
Paris Agreement. In this report, power of subnational government, local
(sovereign) government and their legal commitments are to be discussed in the
light of Paris Agreement.
Subnational Governments and Their
Actions on Climate Change
dispersed body that has been elected through universal voting with some common
and wide- ranging duties, responsibilities and accountabilities are called a
subnational government, which is to some extent autonomous regarding financial
plan (budget), supervise and resources. When a subnational government is
autonomous, they have certain decision making and implementation power. And they
are not bound to follow a central proposal made by the national government. Now
it draws our attention that Paris Agreement generates a global agenda for
tackling climate change issue by making sure that the policies and legal
activities that are already happening in local or sub-national dimensions faces
no impediment. And a good logic behind this can be NDCs achievement, which is
being buoyed by these existing actions in these sub national level. According
to a report of 2015 by “World Bank’s State and Trends of Carbon Pricing”, the
carbon pricing schemes are being implemented more and since 2012 the number has
been doubled. And over 35 nations and more than 20 cities and regions hold
carbon price instruments (WorldBank, 2015). And
approximately 1000 and 500 million tons of CO2 are covered by carbon
schemes in China and USA respectively. This outcomes can help to achieve NDCs
goal for a country significantly and Paris Agreement encourages such kind of
initiatives. All the SNGs as a group represents a huge number of world’s
population and Paris Agreement witnessed some massive initiatives taken by SNGs
regarding climate change. Some major highpoints are mentioned below:
were about 58 new signatories to the “Under 2 MOU”, which is a commitment to
reduce the emissions 80-95% or limit to two metric tons CO2
equivalent per capita within 2050 (MOU, 2015).
of Mayors” was launched in 2014 and then it extended to almost 450 cities where
22 cities were from California and 392 cities had took commitments to take effective
actions to mitigate climate change. The infrastructure of “Compact of Mayors’
consists four phases by which SNGs took the commitments and the SNGs must
engage to these phases over 3 years. Each phase has two step process of
Mitigation and Adaptation.
1 is Commitment where in the Mitigation interphase cities were dedicated to
reduce local GHGs emissions, measuring community emissions inventory using the
GPC, to develop a data based targets and climate action plan. And in Adaptation
interphase cities were committed to address and evaluate the climate change
impacts, climate hazards identification, assessment of vulnerabilities and to
develop a Climate adaptation plan.
2 is Inventory where in the Mitigation interphase cities committed to form a
community with wide GHGs inventory with GPC standard and report through CDP.
And in adaptation interphase cities were stimulated to recognize climate
hazards and report through CDP.
SNGs of Compact of Mayors set the target in phase 3. And in Mitigation
interphase they were committed to reduce emissions from waste subdivision,
setting a target of emission reduction and report through CDP. And in
Adaptation stage cities took commitment to operate a compact guidance in order
to measure the vulnerabilities of climate change and report to CDP.
in the last phase “Plan” cities were committed to develop a Climate Action Plan
to reduce the GHGs emissions and to fine-tune with projected impacts of climate
change for the Mitigation and Adaptation interphase respectively (Nations, States, & Union, 2014).
Australian government announced with a solemn promise that Adelaide city will
be the first carbon neutral city in the world and will have net “0” emissions
within 2050 (Harrington, Johnston, & Harrington, 2015).
Capital Territory Government and many state and local governments did sign
“Paris City Hall Declaration at the Climate Summit for Local Leaders” in which
they were committed to reduce 80% of their emissions within 2050 and 100%
renewable energy use (Hall et al., 2015).
lots of SNGs became more aware to take effective initiatives regarding climate
actions by taking individual pledges and commitments. For instance, about six
thousands European provinces, municipalities and regions intended to come
across the 20% emission reduction challenge by 2020 through “Covenant of
Mayors” and now these cities looking forward to 2030 targets (argues Kata Tütt?, 2015). And many of
SNGs has adopted convenient framework offered by many collaborative sectors to
build and increase capacity and to utilize energy, wastes, and transportations
in more environmental friendly way. And one of the most comprehensive Agreement
that the world has witnessed in COP 21 added extra accelerations to these
initiatives taken by SNGs and National governments has nothing to do with it.
National Governments and Their
Actions and Commitments on Climate Change
21 produced a comprehensive and all-inclusive framework where 195 countries and
EU agreed to have sets of binding procedural and practical commitments. It took
years of negotiations under the UNFCCC to have this Climate Agreement even
after knowing that first attempt was not successful to have a treaty agreed by
all the member parties in Copenhagen 2009.
the agreement enters into force, it will be a legal binding for the parties (Bodansky, 2016). Every
countries are committed to have required activities to achieve the global goal
by keeping temperature rise below 2 degree centigrade (UNFCCC. Conference of the Parties (COP), 2015). A collective
goal of balancing the emissions within 2050 was also set under the agreement.
To put these global goal achieving actions in track all parties/National
Governments committed to “prepare, communicate and maintain” consecutive NDCs,
to “pursue domestic mitigation measures” intended to achieve their NDCs and to
report on emissions and to keep progressing on the implementation of their NDCs
by signing the agreement. Although the achievement of each party’s NDCs is not
legally binding obligation, they signed the agreement with the commitment of
representing a progression on its NDCs until the uppermost conceivable
Paris Agreement contains a review of adaptation improvement, sufficiency and
efficacy of adaptation support in “Global Stocktake” to be undertaken every
single 5 years (Presidency & Page, 2017). Parties
pledged to make plan and implement the adaptation measures and to report on
their necessities and efforts. To support developing countries to maintain
their mitigation and adaptation efforts, developed countries are committed
under UNFCCC (UNFCCC, 2007). Developed
countries had made a commitment in COP 15 and COP 16 to assemble one hundred
billion dollar as Green climate Fund (GCF) every year till 2020 (UNFCCC. Conference of the Parties (COP), 2011). And COP 21
restates that GCF goals till 2025 and developed countries agreed to it. Some
country 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 in
order to support adaptation and mitigation measures (Khor, 2017).
Paris agreement emphasizes on low carbon technology, it also encourage the
parties who has already developed these green technologies to deploy all over
the world rapidly. For the sake of climate resilience enhancement and GHGs
emission reduction, developed countries were agreed to share the green
technologies and to arrange for capacity building support towards developing
countries (UNFCCC. Conference of the Parties (COP), 2015).
article 5 of Paris Agreement, it inspires the parties to avoid deforestation,
manage forests sustainably. It also says to make result based payment on the
basis of the quantity of extra carbon that the being paid country keeps locked
in forests, which consequences reduction of deforestation. And by ratifying it,
parties shown their keenness to avoid deforestation and sustainable management
of forest (UNFCCC, 2015b).
Withdrawal of a National Government
from Paris Agreement
Paris Agreement has set a super elaborate and comprehensive framework to
follow, it has also some procedures to maintain if a party wants to get himself
withdraw from it.
In article 28, it says, “A party can withdraw from the Agreement any time after 3 years of entering
into force for a party. And the party has to give a written announcement to the
also says, “Any such withdrawal shall
take effect upon expiry of one year from the date of receipt by the Depositary
of the announcement of withdrawal, or on such later dates as may be specified
in the notification of withdrawal”(UNFCCC, 2015b).
as Paris Agreement has come into force on 4th of November 2016, the
earliest date would be 4th of November 2020 for the party who wants
to withdraw them from this Agreement (McBride, 2017). However the
Agreement’s door is always open for the parties to join who has already left (UNFCCC, 2015b).
United States of America, One of the biggest carbon emitter, has declared to
get themselves out from the Paris agreement (Zhang, Chao, Zheng, & Huang, 2017). And U.S.A
would be the great example to analysis the power of sovereign and local
government, what they can do and what can’t do as their national government has
withdrawn from the agreement.
Domestic procedures of U.S.A
to United States law, the president is the one who make decisions on how the
country will join an international agreement and the president authorizes it on
behalf of the country. And to some extent both political and legal
contemplations are depends on the decision of the president. And there are lawful
eight 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 Department
of State’s Foreign Affairs Manual says the factors are:
To what level the agreement includes the
commitments and risks that may affect the country.
Is the agreement or its intention going
to affect the state laws or nor.
Is the agreement consequences the effect
without the enactment of following legislation by the congress or not.
Earlier United States repetition as to
Congress’s preference as to a specific
form of agreement.
The extent of required formalities for an
The projected duration, necessity of
rapid decisions and its interest of finalizing a plan or short term agreement.
General international practice as to
similar agreements (Bodansky, 2015).
State’s Independence and
Paris Agreement is a guideline to save the world and working to make sure a
clean and comfortable earth for all of us, it inspires every levels to come
forward and take actions. Although United States has already declared to
withdraw yet some state government still considers themselves into the Paris
Agreement. Voluntarily state governments can contribute to reach the NDCs
target. It would be quite fair to say that the sovereign government are that
much independent to take actions to make the Paris goals come true partially or
completely even after their national government are not interested.
Theoretically, sovereign governments can reduce emissions in so many ways
without the help of federal government (Plumer, 2017). By calling for
electric utilities for more renewable energy use, adjusting infrastructural
codes and execute stronger proficiency standards on utilizations (Larsen, Larsen, Herndon, & Houser, 2017). They can bring
changes on transportation infrastructure by calling for automakers for
marketing more electric vehicles like California and numerous Northeast states.
An analysis by Rhodium Group has found that the state’s emission from
electricity will reduce to half concerning 2005 and 2025 as the alliance states
are motivated to cleaning up the electric grids (Plumer, 2017). And by using
new technologies states can make decarburizations at ease. It can be better
batteries or other low carbon producing utilities to incorporate wind and solar
or capturing carbon for cement plants (Larsen et al., 2017).
the approval of an agreement of climate change are hinged by the legal analysis
concerning the constitutional acceptance on governmental and sensible
contemplations even after the president chooses to support it or to refer it
for the approval of Senate or Congress. And the president has the ability to go
into an agreement without Senate or Congress’s approval (Bodansky, 2015).
the sovereign government can voluntarily follow the Paris Agreement by reducing
emissions, which ultimately contribute the NDCs of U.S.A although U.S.A has
withdrawn from it. So many Mayors are taking their commitments and making plans
to align with the other parties of United Nations concerning climate change (Walker, 2017). The group of
mayors that represents about 44 American states expressed their intentions
regarding climate change by announcing themselves to involve in renewable
energy and energy efficiency by increasing the investment (Walker, 2017). They also
declared to cut their GHGs emissions, create a Clean Energy Economy and to take
positions for environmental justice in spite of their president’s unwillingness
to adoption of Paris Agreement. And these spirit of the Mayors inspired so many
governors to take actions at their state level. There is a group formed “We Are
Still In” consists of more than thousand groups and their intention is to
reduce the country’s emissions and to reach the aim of Paris Agreement and now
they has declared their updated intentions to tackle climate change in COP 23 (Forum, 2017). In the Climate
Mayors statement, the mayors expects the Paris accord to be adopted collectively
and to drive for even stronger climate actions and to work as a group (Walker, 2017). Some
Bipartisan mayors took the determinations to run their cities entirely based on
renewable energy like wind and solar energy, in two decades (Licon, 2017). In the U.S
conference of Mayors 2017, most mayors has made a pact to keep improving their
works to maintain the terms and aims of Paris climate consensus in spite of
knowing that their president are not in the Agreement (Mayors, 2017). Approximately
25 cities including San Diego and Salt Lake City has taken the clean-energy
policy. Some smaller cities like Colorado, Burlington, and Aspen has
successfully generated 100% of energy from renewable source (Licon, 2017).
local and sovereign governments and cities are taking intense actions from
their positions to reach the goals of Paris climate accord, it’s no secret that
it will add an extra power and supremacy to the climate actions when their
National Government decides to stay in the Paris Agreement.
Paris Agreement has been able to identify the role of SNGs and Local
governments properly. As it was decided in the Agreement that each country will
extend their climate commitments through NDCs and will report to the UNFCCC
secretariat about their emission reductions and adaptation goals till 2030,
SNGs will make these climate actions easier for the countries to maintain and
stay on track. It is no secret that it’s almost unmanageable for a country to
take climate actions and implement those properly without its cities and
structural frameworks assigned by the states (Pasquale Capizzi, Emily Castro, Ingrid Gonzalez,
Robert Kehew, Jakob Lindemann, Patricia Lizarazo, Tangmar Marmon, 2017). So, as the
national commitments should be ambitious according to Paris Agreement- the NDCs
for example, it is no difficult when regional and subnational governments are
well integrated in the national climate policies. Some organization has formed
by recognizing these potential to empower local and subnational governments,
ICLEI (International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives which has
renamed to Local Governments for Sustainability) for instance. ICLEI formed in
1990 with two hundreds city leaders from 50 different country. Since then it
has been participating in negotiations and implementation of international
climate 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 fighting
contrary to climate change and other issues regarding sustainability by emphasizing
Inspire, expand and scale up local
Intensify, deepen, and integrate climate
action within all areas of sustainability
Connect, include, and engage with
governments and stakeholders
Encourage transparent, accountable, and
open municipal actions and governance
Resource, empower, and advocate for
transformative actions” (ICLEI, 2015)
is an open secret that no policy or agreement can solve the global problem
Climate Change unless the world actively participate in the actions against it
unitedly. However, Paris Agreement is considered as a successful conclusion of
local and subnational government climate initiatives in terms of mobilizations,
recognitions and empowerment. And the number of SNGs are increasing with the
active participation to combat climate change which will lead a green
sustainable world with a better climate in near future.