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FRIPRO-Fri prosjektstøtte

The pulling power of Paris (PullP): Unpacking the role of ‘pledge & review’ in climate governance

Alternative title: Paris avtalens styringsmekanisme: Hvordan vil "pledge and review" påvirke staters adferd?

Awarded: NOK 12.0 mill.

The Paris Agreement provides the inter-governmental framework for coordinating international climate action. It does so by zooming in on the so-called "pledge and review" system at the heart of the Agreement, whereby states are obliged to commit to a certain level of emissions cuts through NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions) and subsequently be subject to review by their peers (other states) about whether they have succeeded in doing so. However, the Paris Agreement has no provisions to force or compel states to reduce emissions and relies exclusively on what states themselves commit to. The Paris Agreement is thus a case of "soft" governance that we also find in other issue-areas, such as human rights and development assistance. There is some indication that such "voluntary" governance mechanisms can be effective in changing state behavior, but there is little systematic research on it. This project seeks to assess the conditions under which it is more or less likely that the governance mechanisms of the Paris Agreement will in fact induce states to ambitious climate action, most importantly, reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It will combine quantitative data analysis on the determinants of ambition levels with process tracing, document analysis and participant observation to identify how pledge and review affects state behavior. Specifically, we use existing datasets of NDCs and their assessments as a basis for large-n causal analysis which will be combined with case studies of ca. 20 states, where country experts will provide data on the way NDCs emerge and change. Finally, process and practice tracing of climate diplomacy and the changing meaning of ambition will provide a fuller picture of the Paris “pledge and review” system.

Will the Paris Agreement (PA) succeed in getting states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? PullP will explore the conditions under which the PA is more or less likely to "pull" states to increase their ambitions in climate policy. While most international agreements are limited by their lack of robust enforcement mechanisms, the PA compensates for this by relying on states to submit pledges - Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) - and subjecting them to a pledge & review mechanism (P&R). Proponents argue that the P&R can shape the institutional and social environment of action to "pull" actors, changing their behaviour irrespective of their initial preferences. PullP will investigate whether the PA indeed has that "pulling" power. Our main research question is: What are the effects of the Paris Agreement’s P&R mechanism on the contents of NDCs? To answer this question, we will: i) assess the effects of P&R by evaluating changes in the level of ambition of NDCs over time, creating a dataset covering pledges made by states in the runup to and in the first two phases of the Paris Agreement (2010-2021), and enabling statistical analysis of ambition change ii) investigate the conditions under which P&R can be expected to affect state behaviour, comparing it to review systems in other domains of international politics and developing a typology of P&R governance arrangements. iii) identify the causal mechanisms by which P&R affects behaviour by employing process and practice tracing methods to analyse the way states engage in the Paris P&R. PullP's multi-layered and multi-method empirical strategy will allow the project to identify and trace the effects of P&R on the political dynamic of climate governance, and assess whether such P&R elements can be further strengthened in future global governance arrangements, providing potential advice for policymakers.

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FRIPRO-Fri prosjektstøtte

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