IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change

13.3.2 Elements of international agreements and related instruments

The majority of elements identified in the literature draw on existing multilateral agreements, in particular, the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol. Agreements related to climate change, but not specifically focused on GHG mitigation, are less extensively analysed in the climate literature. These include energy policy and technology agreements (see, for example, publications the IEA evaluating their “Implementing Agreements”) and the evaluation of VAs with the auto sector (see, for example, Sauer et al., 2005 on the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) agreement between the European, Japanese and Korean auto manufacturers). Based on the literature in Table 13.2, it is possible to derive some common elements of international climate change agreements. These are listed in Box 13.6, and expanded upon in the section below.

Box 13.6 Elements for climate change agreements[31]

A number of elements are commonly incorporated in existing – and proposals for new – international climate change agreements. These include:

Goals: Most agreements establish objectives that implementation is supposed to achieve. In the climate context, a variety of goals have been proposed, including those related to emissions reductions, stabilization of GHG concentrations, avoiding “dangerous” interference with climate, technology transfer and sustainable development. Goals can be set at varying degrees of specificity.

Participation: All agreements are undertaken between specific groups of participants. Some have a global scope while others focus on a more limited set of parties (e.g. regional in nature or limited to arrangements between private sector partners). Obligations can be uniform across participants, or differentiated among them.

Actions: All agreements call for some form of action. Actions vary widely and can include national caps or targets on emissions, standards for certain sectors of the economy, financial payments and transfers, technology development, specific programmes for adaptation and reporting and monitoring. The actions can be implicitly or explicitly designed to support sustainable development. The timing for actions varies considerably, from those taking effect immediately, to ones that may take effect only over the longer term; actions may be taken internally (within contracting Parties) or with others (both with non-Parties as well as non-State actors).

Institutions and compliance provisions: Many agreements contain provisions for establishing and maintaining supporting institutions. These perform tasks as varied as serving as repositories for specific, agreement-related data, facilitating or adjudicating compliance, serving as clearing houses for market transactions or information flows, to managing financial arrangements. In addition, most agreements have provisions in case of non-compliance. These include binding and non-binding consequences and may be facilitative or more coercive in nature.

Other elements: Many (although not all) agreements contain additional elements, including, for example, “principles” and other preambular language. These can serve to provide context and guidance for operational elements, although they may be points of contention during negotiations. In addition, many agreements contain provisions for evaluating progress – with a timetable for reviewing the adequacy of efforts and evaluating whether they need to be augmented or modified.