Climate Change | Other Publication

Advancing Climate Policy After the Paris Agreement

Christine Negra | April 2016


Following the conclusion of the 21st annual Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris, the Web site of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change proclaimed “Historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change: 195 Nations Set Path to Keep Temperature Rise Well Below 2 Degrees Celsius.” The optimism generated by the achievement of a robust international agreement has been paired with a sober recognition of the work that lies ahead to both fulfill the commitments made at COP21 and to ratchet up ambition for future commitments in order to limit average global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

To “unleash actions and investment towards a low carbon, resilient and sustainable future,” the Paris Agreement addresses climate change mitigation and adaptation and mechanisms for finance, loss, and damage, transparent reporting against Nationally Determined Contributions, and global stock taking at five-year intervals. It also recognizes the essential role for cities and other subnational governments as well as private companies and other nonstate actors. The agreement explicitly acknowledges the need to account for equity, sustainable development, and poverty reduction.

As the world picks up the post-Paris baton, this is an opportune moment to survey the landscape and identify the most promising investments for building a strong multilateral foundation for effective climate policy and action. In January 2016, the Stanley Center commissioned an assessment of the major needs and opportunities for collective action on global climate change policy, based on interviews with collaborators and other senior leaders. In March 2016, the Stanley Center convened a two-day Policy Lab on Climate Change, which brought together a diverse group of experts to refine ideas put forward in the assessment and to discuss the current policy “marketplace.”

This paper distills insights gained through the assessment and policy lab regarding transformational policy goals and strategic opportunities for achieving them. It also highlights potential pitfalls and recommends guardrails for collaboratively advancing climate policy. These insights and recommendations are offered to public-, private-, and civic-sector leaders as they determine their most effective contributions to global efforts to curb climate change.