Taking the Paris Agreement forward: Continuous strategic decision-making on Climate Action by the Meeting of the Parties

Petra Minnerop

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There is a new cloth on the table that provides the setting for global climate action. The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement represents the future legal framework designed to facilitate global efforts to combat climate change in the long-term. This article looks at the fabric of this framework through the lens of the law-making procedure. The law- making procedure that brought the Paris Agreement into life and will sustain it, marks a departure from the traditional framework convention-cum-protocol approach and changes it into a ‘framework convention-cum-decisions’ model. While the Kyoto Proto- col was prescriptive in setting individual emission targets for developed countries, the Paris Agreement sets forth an evolutionary multilateral treaty and enables Parties to steer collective and individual efforts towards a worldwide temperature goal through continuous, strategic decision-making. The article demonstrates that the Agreement becomes operational only in the context of the decisions that were adopted by the Conference of Parties with the Agreement and in the context of further decisions that need to be adopted by the ‘Conference of Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement’. Many of the skeletal provisions and mechanisms of the Paris Agreement need to be fleshed out and operated through further decisions. New func- tions and competences conferred on the ‘Conference of Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties’ change the role that this meeting of the Parties has, making it the driver for the development of the law on combating climate change. This international law- making is reinforced through the integration of Parties’ decisions within legal orders of Parties, the European Union legal order will be used as an example of one legal order acting as a transmission belt. The article contends that this strategic decision-making affects the legal certainty of international climate action and contravenes the balance between legislative approval of an international agreement and the prerogative of na- tional governments for strategic decisions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124 – 166
Number of pages23
JournalMax Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law Online
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


  • United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
  • Paris Climate Agree- ment
  • Kyoto Protocol
  • Nationally Determined Contributions
  • Global Stocktake
  • Adaptation
  • Mitigation
  • Compensation
  • Conference of Parties


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