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The influence of the Paris Agreement on mitigation actions toward the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions post 2015: A comparative study of Nordic, Asian and African regions

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has stepped up its warning on climate tipping points as scientists warn of the impending irrevocable disaster that will occur with continued emissions. Since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015, countries are encouraged to substantially reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to limit the global temperature increase to 2⁰C and pursue efforts to limit global temperatures to 1.5⁰C. So, have countries adhered to the IPCC warnings by reducing emissions and does the international environmental regime (IER) have anything to do with their emissions-reductions efforts since 2015? To answer these questions, this thesis tracks the emissions reductions efforts of eight countries to determine whether the IER vis-à-vis the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Framework for Climate Change (UNFCCC) have influenced the emissions reduction effort in these countries. The eight countries are China, Denmark, Finland, India, Morocco, Nigeria, Norway and Sweden selected based on their emissions contributions, emissions reductions ambition and efforts since 2015. Further, the significance of the IER has been interrogated for several decades in relation to major environmental concerns such as ozone layer depletion, biodiversity loss and climate change. The thesis responds to the current gap in the literature that has not addressed the influence of the Paris Agreement on emissions reductions efforts across four continents. Previous literature has examined other international environmental agreements (IEA) such as the Montreal Protocol and the Kyoto Protocol and have utilised parameters to measure the IER’s effectiveness. The thesis distinguishes by examining the influence of the Paris Agreement utilising the existing parameters proffered by various scholars such as compliance, enforcement, monitoring, problem structure and institutional design. The thesis also introduces new parameters that have not been used in the existing literature to analyse international environmental regime influence, such as political will subsumed under behavioural changes, equipping of environmental judges and climate litigation under the enforcement parameter, and NDC target review under the implementation parameter. The thesis builds a conceptual framework using the green political theory and the regime theory as its pillars. These theories are best suited to the thesis as they support state and non-state engagement in environmental issues concerning the global commons. The thesis also relies on the Paris Agreement’s preamble that recognises the importance of all levels of government and various actors (corporate and non-state actors) to aid its analysis of the selected countries’ engagement with emissions reduction. The analysis of the selected countries reveals that their climate action benefited from cross-influences from the IER, regional environmental organisations (REOs) and non-state actors. The thesis found that there was significant IER influence in Morocco, India and Nigeria. The regime also moderately influenced Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and China. In addition, the thesis found that REOs such as the European Union (EU), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) played a commendable role in encouraging emissions reductions efforts. Non-state actors also played a crucial role to pressure governments to act through climate litigation and protests. The thesis’ significance lies in its ability to present an up-to-date view of the interplay among the IER, the REOs and other non-state actors in emissions reductions post-Paris 2015. In addition, new parameters as mentioned above, have been introduced that could be relevant in assessing the influence of future environmental regimes.
Type of thesis
The University of Waikato
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