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Reflections on Global Climate Politics Post Paris: Power, Interests and Polycentricity


The Paris Agreement on climate change adopted in December 2015 has the potential to shape future climate politics and governance significantly, with broader implications for world politics at large. First of all, it solidifies the importance of ‘low-emission capacity’ as a source of power in international climate politics. Second, it supports the ongoing societal mobilisation and reinforces interest in the new climate economy. Third, it points, as a result, toward a more multipolar future climate world order. Finally, the Agreement recalibrates the role of the multilateral UN process as providing overall direction towards global decarbonisation, while leaving implementation to states, other international organisations and various non-state actors and initiatives. Therefore, phasing out global greenhouse gas emissions within the next few decades requires subnational and national policy frameworks that facilitate and promote overachievement and hence drive an upward dynamic – making the Paris Agreement a real-world experiment with an uncertain outcome.
Keywords: Climate change, climate governance, climate policy, geopolitics, Paris Agreement, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change