Today I read in the Washington Post that:

On the eve of the most important global climate meeting in years, a definitive United Nations report has found that the world is well off course on its promises to cut greenhouse gas emissions — and may have even farther to go than previously thought.


...the new UNEP document presents considerably more direct policy analysis and perhaps even some finger-pointing. The document goes through G-20 member nations one by one, listing which ones are failing to live up to the promises they made in Paris three years ago (promises that, themselves, are far too little to keep the planet’s warming in check). Together, the G-20 countries account for 78 percent of the globe’s emissions.

Seven of these countries — Argentina, Australia, Canada, the Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the United States — are off track to meet their Paris promises for the year 2030, the UNEP report finds. So is the entire European Union.

My question is: does the Paris Climate Agreement have teeth? In other words, can the UN authorities enact any sanctions against countries that do not follow through with their Paris Climate Accord promises?


1 Answer 1


The Paris Accords aren't legally binding. You do the best the you can and that's it.

The Paris Agreement requires all Parties to put forward their best efforts through nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and to strengthen these efforts in the years ahead. This includes requirements that all Parties report regularly on their emissions and on their implementation efforts.

  • Are you sure that this isn't legally binding? The word "require" implies some kind of consequence, in my estimation. Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 17:19
  • @elliotsvensson, it's not legally binding. The linked doc talks about a lot of effort but there is not process of penalizing nations that do not meet their targets. Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 17:20
  • that's not what I'm getting ( unfccc.int/files/meetings/paris_nov_2015/application/pdf/… ). Starting at the end, where anybody can leave but the agreement requires 12 months notice (Art. 28, 2.) And "This Agreement shall enter into force"... (Art. 21, 1.) And "Support shall be provided to developing countries for the implementation of this Article." (Art. 13, 14.) And "This Agreement aims to [do something] ... by: ...Making finance flows [as required]." (Art. 2, 1 & 1.c) Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 17:38
  • this really sounds like it has the potential to turn into a tax. It is amendable without majority agreement (Art. 23, 1.) and, as Chief Justice John Marshall wrote in 1819 at McCulloch v. Maryland, "The power to tax involves the power to destroy." Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 17:41
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    @elliotsvensson That a court exists and is recognised doesn't automatically give it jurisdiction. The US Supreme Court doesn't generally do divorces for example. A treaty typically needs to confer jurisdiction to the ICJ as per en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… and icj-cij.org/en/basis-of-jurisdiction
    – origimbo
    Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 21:46

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