Governing by targets: reductio ad unum and evolution of the two-degree climate target

Piero Morseletto*, Frank Biermann, Philipp Pattberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Targets are widely employed in environmental governance. In this paper, we investigate the construction of the 2 °C climate target, one of the best known targets in global environmental governance. Our paper examines this target through a historical reconstruction that identifies four different phases: framing, consolidation and diffusion, adoption, and disembeddedness. Our analysis shows that, initially, the target was science-driven and predominantly EU-based; it then became progressively accepted at the international level, despite a lack of broader debate among governments on the policy implications and required measures for implementation. Once the 2 °C target was endorsed at the level of the United Nations, the nature of the target changed from being policy-prescriptive to being largely symbolic. In this phase, the target became a disembedded object in global governance not linked to a shared agenda nor to coordinated and mutually binding mitigation efforts. The 2015 Paris Agreement marks the last stage in this development and may have further solidified the target as a disembedded object. In the final part of the paper, we suggest ways to overcome the current situation and to develop the 2 °C target into a fully fledged global environmental governance target.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)655-676
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics
Volume17
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, The Author(s).

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Governing by targets: reductio ad unum and evolution of the two-degree climate target'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this