The entry into force of the Paris Agreement on climate change brings expectations that states will be held to account for their commitments. The article elaborates on why this is not a realistic assumption unless a broader multilevel perspective is taken on the nature of accountability regimes for international (legal) agreements. The formal accountability mechanisms of such agreements tend to be weak, and there are no indications that they will be stronger for the recent global goals adopted in the Paris Agreement. Looking beyond only peer review among states, national institutions, direct civil society engagement and internal government processes - while each coming with their own strengths and weaknesses - provide additional accountability pathways that together may do a better job. Scientific enquiry is, however, required to better understand, support and find improved mixtures of, and perhaps to move beyond, these accountability pathways. Policy relevance: This perspective provides something of a clarion call for a variety of different types of actors at both global and national levels to engage in ensuring that states keep the promises they made in the Paris Agreement. It particularly highlights the importance of national institutions and civil society to step up to the task in the present world order, where states are reluctant to build strong accountability regimes at the global level.
Bibliographical note© 2017 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/ licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
- climate change policy
- global governance
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- School of Arch, Tech and Eng - Professor of Sustainable Waste Mngmt
- Values and Sustainability Research and Enterprise Group