Policy Engagements and Blogs

The International Climate Change Regime: Looking Back to Look Forward

Lavanya Rajamani

December 28, 2018


Watch the full video of the panel discussion on ‘The International Climate Change Regime: Looking Back to Look Forward’, organised as part of CPR Dialogues, featuring Lavanya Rajamani, Joanna Depledge, Chandra Bhushan, chaired by Ambassador Chandrashekhar Dasgupta.

The international climate change regime is poised at an interesting juncture – after decades of politically charged negotiations to put in place the obligations, rules and institutions to address climate change, the regime is shifting gears towards the day to day business of national implementation. It is a shift that takes the regime into new, less headline-grabbing yet important territory.
Over the course of the three decades that the international climate change regime has been in evolution, Parties have negotiated three legally binding instruments — the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the 2015 Paris Agreement — and numerous decisions under these instruments. These instruments, in particular the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, represent fundamentally different approaches to regulating climate change. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol represents a top-down prescriptive approach, and the 2015 Paris Agreement a hybrid approach centred on nationally determined contributions from Parties complemented by an oversight system to incentivize more ambitious contributions over time. Since the Paris Agreement, Parties have been engaged in developing rules to operationalize the Agreement, in particular to discipline national discretion, enhance transparency and strengthen the oversight system. The end of the Rulebook negotiations on 14 December 2018 in Katowice marks the end of an era of intense rule-making under the climate change regime. Although minor technical details may remain to be resolved beyond Katowice, the broad contours of the climate change regime will be firmly in place. Yet this represents only the first step and the implementation now to follow will likely to prove to be much more challenging.

This panel:

looked back on three decades of rule-making, in particular at the major shifts in regulatory approaches embedded in this history
discussed the emerging contours of the Paris Agreement as fleshed out in the Katowice rulebook
explored the challenges and (potential) gaps in implementation, review, and ‘ratcheting’ of ambition over time through the Paris framework
identified the key focus areas for research, advocacy and policy influence as the regime shifts gears.
This panel discussion is the latest in a long line of seminars that CPR has held on the climate regime. In particular it forms part of an unbroken chain of annual seminars CPR holds shortly after the UN Conference of Parties (COP) to deconstruct the outcomes of the COP, explore the underlying politics and identify potential challenges on the road ahead.

CPR has worked on the climate regime, at the international and domestic level, for several years, and in various capacities. In addition to our scholarly work which spans award-winning books and articles in influential international journals, we have also worked with governments, including the Indian government, and played a role in drafting IPCC reports and UN FCCC instruments. More importantly we have, through our work over the last decade, helped to inform public understanding, stimulate a broader public debate and shape public opinion and research on climate policy.

Chandrashekhar Dasgupta is a former Ambassador and an Indian climate negotiator.

Lavanya Rajamani is a Professor at CPR.

Joanna Depledge is Editor of Climate Policy journal and Senior Fellow at Centre for Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Governance at the University of Cambridge.

Chandra Bhushan is the Deputy Director General at Centre for Science and Environment.

The question and answer session that followed can be accessed here.

Lavanya Rajamani’s article in the Hindustan Times (print partner for CPR Dialogues) can be accessed here.

Key takeaways about the Dialogues by Joanna Depledge can be accessed here.

Watch all other sessions of the Dialogues below:

Watch all other sessions of the Dialogues below: