Surprisingly, a Voluntary Climate Treaty Could Actually Work
By Michael Greenstone, The New York Times, February 13, 2015
Negotiators around the world are deliberating proposals for an international climate change treaty that will contain a glaring loophole: It won’t be binding. That’s less than ideal, but it’s still worthwhile for several important reasons.
First, all treaties are essentially voluntary, short of violators being placed under severe sanctions or the threat of war. Second, the more binding the language of the treaty seems, the less likely it is that countries will make any commitment to act. And third, the only previous international treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions was surprisingly successful. For these reasons, the treaty to limit greenhouse gas emissions that may emerge from the December conference that is to take place in Paris — binding or not — is an important step forward in confronting climate change.