Treaty Forcing: Will International Commitments Ever Control Climate Forcing?

Treaty Forcing
This paper introduces the idea of “treaty forcing” in order to juxtapose the process of international treaty negotiation with the concept of climate forcing that is the mainstay of the scientific account of global climate change. Treaty forcing with respect to the issue of climate change is defined as the process leading to the actual commencement of long-term GHG emissions reductions actions by all major emitter nations, as specified in binding, verifiable and enforceable targets clearly laid out in a ratified international treaty which has come into force. The paper discusses a number of prominent cases of international treaty negotiation during the second half of the 20th century, including the Montreal Protocol, and then specifies the four stages of additional negotiation that would be needed to move from the 2015 Paris Accord to a more robust climate change treaty. Finally, it proposes the use of an expert elicitation exercise to clarify, in the context of three hypothetical future treaty-negotiation timeline scenarios, and the set of 2014 IPCC global warming mitigation scenarios, the following questions: (1) how and when the two sets of scenarios might converge; (2) whether a new effort to put specific emissions reduction targets into treaty form should be made; (3) whether climate engineering should be incorporated into any new treaty dealing with the risks of climate change?

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