Ambition and Differentiation in the 2015 Paris Agreement: Interpretative Possibilities and Underlying Politics

International and Comparative Law Quarterly ​2016, pp 1-25​, 16 March 2016

The 2015 Paris Agreement represents a historic achievement in multilateral diplomacy. After years of deeply discordant negotiations, Parties harnessed the political will necessary to arrive at a climate change agreement that strikes a careful balance between ambition and differentiation. The Paris Agreement contains aspirational goals, binding obligations of conduct in relation to mitigation, a rigorous system of oversight, and a nuanced form of differentiation between developed and developing countries. This article will explore the key building blocks of the Paris Agreement—ambition and differentiation—with an eye to mining the text of the Agreement for its interpretative possibilities and underlying politics.