Research Handbook on EU Energy Law and Policy
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Research Handbook on EU Energy Law and Policy

Edited by Rafael Leal-Arcas and Jan Wouters

This authoritative Research Handbook presents, for the first time, a comprehensive overview of the most important research and latest trends in EU energy law and policy. It offers high-quality original contributions that provide state-of-the-art research in this rapidly evolving area, situated in the broader context of international economic law and governance.
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Chapter 20: Paris Agreement: the evolution of international law standards in the post-ontological framework

Antonio Morelli


If it is too soon to clearly foresee the real impact of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, it is certain that the deal adopted at the COP21 represents a landmark in the evolution of international law standards. Set within Tom Franck’s post-ontological framework, the analysis illustrates how the Agreement fosters shared universal standards and an effective solution in addressing universal challenges, such as climate change. The political debate on whether the Paris Agreement comprises only words and promises or is an effective commitment enters the legal arena in terms of a dichotomy between binding versus non-binding sources of international law. The provisions of the Agreement are the results of a heterogeneous combination of both sources, which respectively come into play depending on the elements that are at stake. Through the harmonization of those instruments, it is possible to promote the universality of the standards without weighing down the rising commitment of the major stakeholders involved in solving climate change. From this perspective, the Paris Agreement combines the action of both state and non-state actors, either during the phase of the negotiation or in the implementation of the deal. The contribution of those stakeholders is going to be extremely relevant in their commitment to reducing carbon emissions and energy consumption. In this context, the chapter demonstrates how the Paris Agreement, letting different sources coexist and not collide, as different actors in the international arena, sets the pace for the evolution of new standards in international law.

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