The Paris Agreement’s inherent tension between ambition and compliance
Parties to the Paris Agreement face mounting social pressure to raise their ambition, thereby reducing the gap between individual pledges and collective temperature goals. Although crucial for inciting positive change, especially given that the Paris Agreement lacks an enforcement mechanism, it is also important to consider social pressure’s potential negative unintended consequences. First, it might undermine the Paris Agreement’s celebrated flexibility, which allows countries to design their Nationally Determined Contributions according to domestic conditions and capabilities. Second, it might result in widespread noncompliance by inciting pledges that the countries concerned prove unwilling or even unable to fulfill. Should that happen, confidence in the Paris Agreement and its institutions might falter. Further research is therefore needed to identify the scope conditions for social pressure to work effectively in the domain of international climate policy.