Barriers and Opportunities
Edited by Rosemary Lyster and Robert R.M. Verchick
Chapter 3: The evolving nature of sovereignty in the context of climate change
Recent developments, ranging from Brexit to states’ withdrawal from international agreements or the International Criminal Court, point to a renewed reliance on state sovereignty to justify unilateral action. This chapter examines how the principle of sovereignty has influenced the international response to climate change, including climate disasters as expressed in the 2015 Paris Agreement, and considers whether this principle itself needs to be reconsidered to better respond to current global challenges. It concludes that in order to balance the needs of sovereignty with the needs of human survival, “hybrid” solutions like the Paris Agreement, combining ambitious common goals with some flexibility for states regarding their achievement, are the best attainable — albeit not sufficient -— option at this time.
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