Linking heterogeneous climate policies (consistent with the Paris Agreement)

Michael A. Mehling, Gilbert E. Metcalf, Robert N. Stavins

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The Paris Agreement to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has achieved one of two key necessary conditions for ultimate success – a broad base of participation among the countries of the world. But another key necessary condition has yet to be achieved – adequate collective ambition of the individual nationally determined contributions. How can the climate negotiators provide a structure that will include incentives to increase ambition over time? An important part of the answer can be international linkage of regional, national, and sub-national policies, that is, formal recognition of emission reductions undertaken in another jurisdiction for the purpose of meeting a Party’s own mitigation objectives. A central challenge is how to facilitate such linkage in the context of the very great heterogeneity that characterizes climate policies along five dimensions – type of policy instrument; level of government jurisdiction; status of that jurisdiction under the Paris Agreement; nature of the policy instrument’s target; and the nature along several dimensions of each Party’s Nationally Determined Contribution. We consider such heterogeneity among policies, and identify which linkages of various combinations of characteristics are feasible; of these, which are most promising; and what accounting mechanisms would make the operation of respective linkages consistent with the Paris Agreement.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)647-698
Number of pages52
JournalEnvironmental Law
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2019


  • Paris Agreement
  • climate policy
  • linking
  • emissions trading
  • carbon pricing
  • carbon tax
  • environmental law


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