The climate agreement: Ambitiously more important than binding

The climate agreement will be a compromise where everyone must sacrifice something to get something else. The most important thing is that we get an ambitious agreement - while the question of whether it will be binding or not is subordinate and almost academic, writes the debater Mattias Goldmann.

Minister for Development Aid Isabella Lövin flies in to the climate summit in Paris with the message that "A binding climate agreement is extremely important." That's the only concrete thing she's into the Government Offices' communiqué states the current agreement - nothing about the level of ambition, nothing about how the world will reach the long-term financing goal of 100 billion dollars by 2020, nothing about how the responsibility for emission reductions is distributed. There are at least three good reasons to tone down the requirements of a legally binding agreement:

1. Binding does not bind. The Kyoto Protocol is legally binding, but those who did not achieve the goals have not been subject to any sanctions. It's kind of like not being allowed to go red but not getting fined if you do. It is inconceivable that in the negotiations they will succeed in agreeing on strong governing fines for countries that miss their goals.

2. Everyone should join. The United States has stated that it will never agree to a legally binding agreement - and China is on the same track. If we fail to include several of the largest emitters, the agreement is not very valuable - and risks never formally entering into force, as too small a proportion of UN member states sign.

Ambitious goals are important. With ambitious goals, a demand is created for new, renewable and efficient technology, while goals achieved with emission reductions that are close to business as usual do not provide any dynamism. If we insist on a legally binding agreement, we can be absolutely sure that the ambition will be low.

Anyone who believes that only binding agreements have any power and significance, misses the enormous power that now exists in many companies, municipalities and other organizations that voluntarily undertake far-reaching emission targets. It includes the government's new, voluntary initiative "Fossil-Free Sweden" and the broad constellation which in the form of the 2030 Secretariat is behind the goal of a fossil-independent vehicle fleet by 2030. Those who have voluntarily, proudly and publicly made climate promises will fight to achieve them. especially when we as consumers clearly reward those who have tough climate goals and opt out of those who do nothing beyond what they are legally bound to.

Lövin states in its press release that we "support developing countries so that they can skip the fossil fuel step and directly invest in climate-smart energy solutions". This is a very important direction, which is given extra strength by a good climate agreement in Paris. It is counterproductive to complicate this by vigorously insisting on a legally binding agreement.

Matthias Goldmann

This is a debate article. The author is responsible for analysis and opinions in the text.

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