Article published in Carbon & Climate Law Review on a key element of the Paris Agreement: it’s transparency framework.

The starting point of this article is the Paris Agreement’s extensive reliance on transparency to promote ambition and accountability. The goal of this article is to challenge this drive for transparency and to assess the potential of the Paris Agreement’s transparency framework to incentivise greater climate ambition. To do so, the article draws a set of criteria from compliance theory and evaluates the key transparency rules according to these criteria. Those transparency rules are contained in the Paris Rulebook, a set of rules on the implementation of the Paris Agreement agreed upon (for the most part) at COP 24 in Katowice in December 2018.

The article proceeds as follows.


First, the article critically analyses compliance theories and their understanding of the role of transparency. It concludes that transparency may trigger compliance with international environmental agreements provided that interactions between private and public actors are facilitated and provided that States feel accountable for their actions. On this basis, the article identifies criteria under which transparency strengthens state compliance.


The article next describes the Paris Rulebook’s ex ante transparency rules: the guidance on NDC communication, accounting and public availability referred to in Article 4 of the Paris Agreement and the modalities, procedures and guidelines for the transparency framework for action referred to in Article 13.


Lastly, the article evaluates these rules according to the criteria previously developed. The article finds that the Paris Rulebook’s ex ante transparency rules may not sufficiently incentivise States to ratchet-up their ambition and to achieve their commitments.


It is thus key to improve the Paris Agreement’s transparency framework in the next COPs. If COP 26 has unfortunately been postponed to 2021 due to coronavirus, climate ambition should not be postponed as well. Given the shortcomings of the Paris Agreement’s framework, it is up to private actors, NGOs in particular, to hold States accountable through advocacy campaigns and litigation.

The article can be found here and some live impressions from the webinar the journal organised here.

About the author
: article published by Myele Rouxel.