Why Paris Will Probably Fail and How to Make It Work: A Systems Perspective

Monday, 18 December 2017 - 11:00am to 12:00pm

Current pledges under the Paris Climate Agreement are inadequate, but the agreement is intended to evolve over time. The Paris Agreement is designed to increase action through a ratchet mechanism obligating countries to put forward stronger targets, political pressure and a “signal” to investors to transition towards low-emissions activities. This presentation provides an analysis of how Paris could work over time from a systems dynamics perspective. It shows that there is neither strong evidence nor theoretical grounds to believe that peer-pressure, the ratchet mechanism or the low-emissions investment signal will work. The agreement also contains inbuilt delays which are likely to push agreed global temperature targets out of reach. Paris as an architecture for changing state behaviour in a sufficient timescale is likely to fail. Yet, understanding the Paris Agreement as a system also provides the basis for improving it.

Australian National University

Luke is a lecturer in climate and environmental policy at the Fenner School of Environment and Society and Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University (ANU), and a Senior Economist with Vivid Economics. He is a specialist in environmental and climate policy, having advised the Australian parliament on the ratification of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. He holds both a Doctorate in Political Science (2016) and a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies with first class honours from the ANU (2011). As a consultant, he has worked for a range of public and private clients including the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. He is a regular media commentator and his research has been covered by international media outlets such as the Guardian, the Washington Post, the New Yorker and the New York Times.