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Parties agree to commit, not to be controlled

A binding agreement at the COP21 needs to be enforced with authorities able to control its application and impose potential sanctions. But on this ground too there are many oppositions.

© Kevin Lamarque / Reuters / Bob Strong
 

Establishing precise objectives is a good thing. Being able to impose meeting them, through coercion if necessary, is better. French president François Hollande expressed this view towards the upcoming COP21: "I hope that binding measures emerge from the agreement in Paris. But who will verify, who will judge if these measures are being applied correctly?"

François Hollande offers his own solution: "The next step is to have an organisation in the form of an environmental security council in order to say at some point: 'This is not acceptable, your behavior is dangerous'."

States cling to their sovereignty

Without a superior authority on climate, constraints are negotiated for each treaty. The UN Security Council tried to take over the climate issue but China and developing countries opposed. Sovereignty has always been a matter for frictions in international climate debates.

 

The USA reject the idea of constraint itself. Canada was able to bypass the sanctions fixed by the Kyoto Protocol when it appeared they would have to pay major fines for not respecting their pledge to reduce greenhouse gases emissions. Some countries have engaged in bilateral agreements. The most important united the USA and China last year but it doesn't specify precise objectives each Party would have to respect.

USA already voiced against a biding treaty

In Paris, it will be a matter of moving beyond these failures in order to achieve the first biding universal climate deal. China is said to have agreed for a revision every five years, without submitting to "constraint". The presidential election in the USA already led the Secretary of State John Kerry to rise against this possibility : "There are not going to be legally binding reduction targets like Kyoto."

The results of trying to convince USA delegates to sign a biding agreement.

Organizers need the agreement to be binding in order to claim COP21 is a success. But they could also save for later the negotiations on the monitoring procedures. After all, the French president never said when this "next step" should be imposed.