Keep Climate Commitments Voluntary
Although the level and speed of climate-change mitigation must be increased, an attempt by rich countries to dictate terms could result in deadlock. The voluntary approach represented by the 2015 Paris agreement remains the world’s best bet for reaching a more ambitious pact at next year's COP26 summit in Glasgow.
WASHINGTON, DC – With the arrival of effective vaccines likely to bring the catastrophic COVID-19 pandemic under control in much of the world by summer 2021, the fight against climate change will once again be humanity’s great existential challenge. Adopting the right approach will be critical.
Five years ago, 196 countries signed the Paris climate agreement with the objective of limiting global warming to well below two degrees Celsius relative to pre-industrial levels. The accord, which has been ratified by 189 countries, was the first global agreement of its type and constitutes a milestone in international cooperation. Although the United States withdrew from the accord under President Donald Trump, President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to rejoin it immediately upon taking office in January 2021.
The Paris agreement’s success stemmed not only from the increasing recognition of global warming’s dangers but also from the voluntary character of the targets that signatories pledged to meet. Penalties for non-compliance were not included.