The Foreign Service Journal - July/August 2017
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neither dictates a U.S. emis-

sions target nor imposes

financial contributions;

targets are nationally deter-

mined, and contributions

are voluntarily decided by

each country. Rather, the

agreement’s legally binding

elements essentially involve

submitting an updated

national target on a five-year cycle—a target that is entirely self-

determined, and for which there is no penalty if exceeded—and

continuing to provide information that the United States already

makes public. Indeed, the agreement



requirements to developing countries (with flexibility for those

that need it in light of their capacity), eliminating a prior dispar-

ity on information sharing.

But though the targets are not legally binding, they can pro-

vide useful signals to other countries and to investors, inventors

and entrepreneurs. And many countries are acting to provide

such signals. Singapore, a country whose economy depends

significantly on oil refining and trading, announced in February

that, as of 2019, it will institute Southeast Asia’s first carbon tax

on the country’s largest emitters. Over the past year, India has

added twice as much renewables capacity as coal capacity. Even

Saudi Arabia, the world’s top exporter of crude oil, launched the

first stage of a planned $50 billion renewable-energy procure-

ment program in early 2017.

One of the more unusual features of the Paris Agreement (or

more accurately, its accompanying Decision) is its emphasis on

the role of non-state actors: the private sector, subnational gov-

ernments, environmental and development advocacy groups,

the faith community, trade unions, labor, youth groups, aca-

demia and civil society writ large. Among other provisions, the

Decision calls for a high-level event featuring non-state actors at

each annual climate negotiations conference through 2020.

In addition, to help strengthen synergies among these groups,

the Decision provides that a “champion” will be appointed each

year by the nation that is taking up the presidency of the annual

climate negotiations. Each champion serves for two years, over-

lapping for a year with the champion appointed in the prior year.

At the 2016 climate negotiations, the inaugural champions (from

France and Morocco) launched the Marrakech Partnership for

Global Climate Action to provide a “consistent and structured

approach” for advancing the work of non-state actors. In May

2017, the current champions (fromMorocco and Fiji) issued

additional details of the

structured approach.

Climate Action

Beyond the

Paris Agreement:

A Taxonomy

The Paris Agreement

is the central element of

international action on cli-

mate, but there are innumerable others. Some of these elements

are associated with the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate

Change, under which the Paris Agreement was adopted, but

state and non-state actors alike are engaged on climate issues in

ways that go far beyond the Paris provisions. Indeed, the variety

of state, non-state and hybrid entities engaging on climate issues

is cause for both hope and confusion. To help dispel the latter,

we offer the following somewhat idiosyncratic taxonomy to map

the various kinds of activities now underway, with some illustra-

tive but far from comprehensive examples.

New examples are already arising in the United States in the

wake of Pres. Trump’s Paris withdrawal announcement, such

as the United States Climate Alliance comprising U.S. states

that aim to reduce emissions consistent with the national target

that had been previously announced by Pres. Obama. As of this

writing, 12 states accounting for more than a quarter of the U.S.

population and nearly a third of its GDP had joined this alliance.

The taxonomy described below has three main branches: (1)

Paris Agreement “Relatives”

—entities that are mentioned in or

that are explicitly focused on implementation of the Paris Agree-

ment; (2)

Non-Paris Multilateral Initiatives

, some of which also

involve non-state actors; and (3)

Non-State Actor Initiatives


the private sector, in the subnational government sector or in

civil society (some of these initiatives involve national govern-

ments, as well). Examples from each of the main branches and

sub-branches follow.


Paris Agreement “Relatives”

Clean Technology Center &Network

. CTC&N, the operational

armof the UNFCCC Technology Mechanism, promotes the “accel-

erated transfer of environmentally sound technologies for low-

carbon and climate-resilient development” in response to specific

requests fromdeveloping countries for advice on technologies,

capacity building and policy, legal and regulatory matters.

NDC Partnership.

Launched at the 2016 UNFCCC climate

conference in Marrakech, the partnership is chaired by Morocco

The good news is that the

cost of low-carbon energy,

particularly renewables,

has plummeted over

the last decade.