Academic journal article Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues

Fragmentation and Synergies in International Climate Change Regime

Academic journal article Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues

Fragmentation and Synergies in International Climate Change Regime

Article excerpt


A new era of Anthropocene which replaced the Holocene era brought changes to stable system of international legal order. As Vidas, Zalasiewicz & Mark (2015) mentioned, '[t]he conditions of the Anthropocene will bring a fundamental shift in the context in which international law operates-a shift in which the challenges are increasingly recognized as the consequences of natural, not only political, change'. These changes are accelerated by climate change (CC)-a phenomenon which affects every aspect of human life. Climate change is an issue that cuts across many domains and at the same time the CC regime is fragmented into various functional and sector-specific areas (Boyd, 2014; Gaur & Squires, 2018; Oh, 2017). CC challenges demand high level of coordination and cooperation in different sectors of international and national law. At first blush, international environmental law may be recognized as best suited for this task, but it suffers lack of coherence itself, thus, more integrated approach is needed.

International environmental law has developed in a way that can be described as piecemeal and disaster-driven: the international environmental governance system consists of legally autonomous yet thematically kindred multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), all of which have created their own institutional arrangements, approaches and rationales (Goeteyn, 2013; Garafova & Kichigin, 2016; Potoski, 2017). The risk of further fragmentation of the environmental governance system is rising, since the proliferation of the MEAs, both from thematic and institutional points of view, means there is a rising danger of overlap, double work and conflict between them (Goeteyn, 2013; Morrow, 2017 & 2017a). Such overlap can occur not just within international environmental legal regimes but also between them and other legal regimes. This factor determines the current efforts of global community to establish coordination and coherence between the different regimes with a view of more efficient implementation at the universal, regional and national scales. The climate change regime is not an exception:

Because of the intricate connections between climate change and other issue areas, one may observe a number of interrelationships between the international climate change treaties and other international legal regimes. Some degree of normative interaction and overlap is likely inevitable given the scope of the phenomenon and perhaps even necessary for integrated efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the detrimental impacts of a changing climate. What is more, such overlap can also breed synergies, both substantive and institutional and may thus have beneficial consequences. However, on a systemic level, normative interaction may give rise to substantive conflicts between different areas of law (Van-Asselt, Francesco & Michael, 2008; Huggins & Karim, 2016; Rei, Gonçalves & De-Souza, 2017).

The authors of these lines describe the problem of fragmentation and building synergies in climate change regime and between climate change and other related regimes.

In June 2017, the USA President announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Agreement (2015) because it could undermine American economy. Almost the same happened in 1997 when US Senate Byrd-Hagel Resolution declared that the United States should not be a signatory to any agreement on CC which would mandate new commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions for Developed Country Parties, unless such agreement also mandated new specific scheduled commitments for Developing Country Parties or resulted in serious harm to the U.S. economy (Byrd-Hagel Resolution, 1997). Since the Paris Agreement has envisaged commitments for developing countries within the framework of the common but differentiated responsibilities' principle (means that in view of the different contributions to global environmental degradation in general and to climate change in particular, States should have common but differentiated responsibilities), the logics of the US current unilateral withdrawal is grounded only on economic considerations. …

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