Multi-actor, multi-level governance for the transatlantic climate and energy dialogue
Revue des juristes de Sciences Po
FR : Association des élèves et diplômés juristes de Sciences Po
71 - 85 p.
Transatlantic relations, Climate, Energy, Multi-level governance, Relations transatlantiques, Climat, Energie, Gouvernance multi-niveaux
Within Europe and around the world, a populist upsurge is threatening the liberal international order. Following the Brexit referendum and Donald Trump’s election as US President, multilateral cooperation appears to be in jeopardy and transatlantic relations have reached a historic low point. Trump’s nationalist ideology has led him to embrace an insular foreign policy under the slogan ‘America first’, criticizing key allies in Europe for taking advantage of the United States. Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change represents a significant challenge to transatlantic relations, given Europe’s strong commitment to the accord and to environmental policy more generally. It is representative of the erosion in international cooperation and the breakdown of entrenched alliances, highlighting current tensions in the transatlantic dialogue. Trump’s announcement has opened a breach in the global climate regime, given that the US is the second largest greenhouse gas emitter and had pledged a substantial amount of funding to support implementation of the Paris Agreement. Nonetheless, the rest of the international community has decided to continue without the US federal government. This was made clear during the 2017 G20 summit in Hamburg when all parties confirmed their commitment to the Paris Agreement. Despite the resurgence of nationalism that feeds on opposition to multilateralism, international cooperation remains more vital than ever to tackle genuinely global challenges such as climate change. Indeed, even within the US, a broad coalition involving cities, states, the private sector and civil society has vowed to continue implementing American climate pledges under the Paris Agreement regardless of the Trump administration. Hence, this paper aims to examine the potential for climate change to strengthen the transatlantic dialogue under a multi-actor, multi-level governance approach. The legal structure of the Paris Agreement allows for a flexible framework on climate change. The national level, while important, can be bypassed through cooperation between cities, states, businesses and civil society groups (including NGOs and universities) on both sides of the Atlantic. How these instances interact and implement their commitments to the Paris Agreement, through non-formal mechanisms such as ‘parallel pledges’, provides an innovative legal framework for more robust transatlantic dialogue and cooperation.