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Global climate governance between hard and soft law: can the Paris Agreement’s ‘Crème Brûlée’ approach enhance ecological reflexivity?


Pickering, J and McGee, JS and Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen, SI and Wenta, J, Global climate governance between hard and soft law: can the Paris Agreement's Creme Brulee' approach enhance ecological reflexivity?, Journal of Environmental Law pp. 1-28. ISSN 0952-8873 (2018) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.

DOI: doi:10.1093/jel/eqy018


In the face of global environmental concerns, legal institutions must cultivate a reflexive capacity to monitor global ecological shifts and to reconfigure their practices accordingly. But, it remains unclear whether harder or softer legal norms are more capable of enhancing such ecological reflexivity. This article traces variations in harder and softer norms in two aspects of the evolution of the global climate change regime—national contributions to mitigation and review mechanisms—and their implications for ecological reflexivity. We find the regime’s reflexivity has increased moderately and slowly over time but without a consistent shift towards harder or softer norms. The Paris Agreement’s innovative approach, combining harder procedural commitments with softer substantive provisions (a ‘crème brûlée’), has potential to encourage flexible responses to changing conditions within a stable, long-term architecture. However, the Agreement’s softer, transparency-based compliance framework provides limited assurance that countries will make and fulfill ambitious commitments.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:climate change, Paris Agreement, ecological reflexivity, legalisation, soft law, UNFCCC
Research Division:Law and Legal Studies
Research Group:Environmental and resources law
Research Field:Environmental law
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Mitigation of climate change
Objective Field:Climate change mitigation strategies
UTAS Author:McGee, JS (Associate Professor Jeffrey McGee)
UTAS Author:Wenta, J (Mr Joseph Wenta)
ID Code:127890
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:12
Deposited By:Office of the Faculty of Law
Deposited On:2018-08-20
Last Modified:2019-01-11

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