So what’s up with the Paris Agreement now that the U.S. has announced its intent to withdraw? The main annual UN conference on climate change is underway in Bonn, Germany, and UCLA Law is on the ground here. We’ll be reporting this week on what we see and hear.
This conference, which serves as the annual Paris Agreement gathering, has an official agenda that includes developing the details necessary to bring that document to life. The Paris Agreement is a landmark text and has achieved very wide participation, with all countries now on board (Syria joined the fray just last week; and the U.S. can’t officially withdraw under Agreement rules for years–though its participation now has a huge asterisk, obviously). That wide participation was made possible in part through constructive ambiguities in the Paris Agreement itself. Put simply, it is not yet clear what countries will have to do under the Agreement, beyond the main outlines. Countries are now trying to resolve these ambiguities through creation of what’s being called the “Paris rulebook.” The rulebook will spell out requirements for, among other things, the periodic pledges countries must make under the Agreement; for country reports on progress made under those pledges; for groundtruthing emission reports; and for taking stock, globally, of our collective progress toward shared goals. The Paris rulebook is due to be finalized by the end of next year, and this year’s official agenda seeks incremental progress. So far, it seems slow going even as against that modest measure. It’s hardly the stuff of Eiffel Tower fireworks.