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International Law Obligations Arising in relation to Nationally Determined Contributions

  • Benoit Mayer (a1)
Abstract

This article analyzes the international law obligations that arise in relation to nationally determined contributions (NDCs). It argues that distinct and concurrent obligations arise from two separate sources. On the one hand, treaty obligations arise under the Paris Agreement, which imposes an obligation of conduct on parties: they must take adequate measures towards the realization of the mitigation targets contained in their NDCs. On the other hand, communications such as NDCs may constitute unilateral declarations that also create legal obligations. These unilateral declarations impose obligations of various types, which may extend beyond mitigation. For example, they may specify measures of implementation or demand the achievement of a particular result. The potential ‘double-bindingness’ of NDCs should be a central consideration in the interpretation of international law obligations regarding climate change.

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1 Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Kyoto (Japan), 11 Dec. 1997, in force 16 Feb. 2005, available at: http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/convkp/kpeng.pdf.

2 Paris (France), 13 Dec. 2015, in force 4 Nov. 2016, available at: http://unfccc.int/paris_agreement/items/9485.php.

3 New York, NY (US), 9 May 1992, in force 21 Mar. 1994, available at: https://unfccc.int/resource/docs/convkp/conveng.pdf. INDCs can be consulted on the registry of the UNFCCC Secretariat, available at: http://www4.unfccc.int/submissions/indc/Submission%20Pages/submissions.aspx.

4 Art. 3 Paris Agreement.

5 New York, NY (US), 26 June 1945, in force 24 Oct. 1945, Art. 38.1, available at: http://www.icj-cij.org/en/statute.

6 In turn, this has already led some courts to exclude any consideration of the legal authority of (I)NDCs: see In the Matter of Decisions Made under the Climate Change Response Act 2002 and Public Decisions Made in relation to the UNFCCC, CIV 2015-485-919 [2017] NZHC 733 (High Court of New Zealand, Wellington Registry), para. 38, available at: http://blogs2.law.columbia.edu/climate-change-litigation/wp-content/uploads/sites/16/non-us-case-documents/2017/20171102_2017-NZHC-733_decision-1.pdf (‘Nor is a country’s NDC binding at international law’).

7 Art. 3.1 UNFCCC.

8 See, e.g., US Senate Res. 98, 105th Cong, Byrd-Hagel Resolution, 143 Cong Rec § 8138-39 (25 July 1997).

9 UNFCCC Secretariat, Decision 2/CP.15, ‘Copenhagen Accord’ (18–19 Dec. 2009), UN Doc. FCCC/CP/2009/11Add.1, paras 4–5.

10 UNFCCC Secretariat, Decision 1/CP.16, ‘The Cancún Agreements: Outcome of the Work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action [(AWG-LCA)] under the Convention’ (10–11 Dec. 2010), UN Doc. FCCC/CP/2010/7/Add.1, paras 36–37, 49–50.

11 See UNFCCC Secretariat, AWG-LCA, ‘Compilation of Information on Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions to be Implemented by Parties not included in Annex I to the Convention’ (18 Mar. 2011), UN Doc. FCCC/AWGLCA/2011/INF.1; and UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice/Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBSTA/SBI), ‘Compilation of Economy-Wide Emission Reduction Targets to be Implemented by Parties included in Annex I to the Convention (Revised Note by the Secretariat)’ (7 June 2011), UN Doc. FCCC/SB/2011/INF.1/Rev.1.

12 See Decision 1/CP.16, n. 10 above, para. 4; see also Decision 2/CP.15, n. 9 above, para. 2.

13 See UNFCCC Secretariat, Decision 1/CMP.8, ‘The Doha Amendment’ (8 Dec. 2012), UN Doc. FCCC/KP/CMP/2012/13/Add.1. The Doha Amendment had not entered into force as of late 2017. See also UNFCCC Secretariat, Decision 1/CP.23, ‘Fiji Momentum to Implementation’ (17 Nov. 2017), UN Doc. FCCC/CP/2017/L.13, paras 12–13.

14 UNFCCC Secretariat, Decision 1/CP.17, ‘Establishment of an Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action’ (11 Dec. 2011), UN Doc. FCCC/CP/2011/9/Add.1, para. 2.

15 UNFCCC Secretariat, Decision 1/CP.19, ‘Further Advancing the Durban Platform’ (23 Nov. 2013), UN Doc. FCCC/CP/2013/10/Add.1, para. 2(b). See also UNFCCC Secretariat, Decision 1/CP.20, ‘Lima Call for Climate Action’ (14 Dec. 2014), UN Doc. FCCC/CP/2014/10/Add.1, para. 9; UNFCCC Secretariat, Decision 1/CP.21, ‘Adoption of the Paris Agreement’ (13 Dec. 2015), UN Doc. FCCC/CP/2015/10/Add.1, available at: https://unfccc.int/documents/9097, para. 13.

16 Decision 1/CP.19, ibid., para. 2(b).

17 Decision 1/CP.20, n. 15 above, para. 14.

18 Ibid., para. 10.

19 Art. 2 UNFCCC. See Decision 1/CP.19, n. 15 above, para. 2(b).

20 Decision 1/CP.20, n. 15 above, para. 12.

21 As of 1 Oct. 2015 the UNFCCC Secretariat had received 119 INDCs covering 147 parties and representing about 86% of global GHG emissions in 2010: UNFCCC Secretariat, ‘Synthesis Report on the Aggregate Effect of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’ (30 Nov.–11 Dec. 2015), UN Doc. FCCC/CP/2015/7, para. 8. See also UNFCCC Secretariat, ‘Aggregate Effect of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions: An Update’ (7–18 Nov. 2016), UN Doc. FCCC/CP/2016/2 (Update Note). The EU’s INDC applies to its 28 Member States.

22 In accordance with Decision 1/CP.20, n. 15 above.

23 UNFCCC Update Note, n. 21 above, para. 9.

24 Ibid., para. 10.

25 Ibid., para. 11.

26 Ibid., paras 59–74.

27 Latvian Presidency of the Council of the EU, ‘Submission by Latvia and the European Commission on behalf of the European Union and its Member States, Intended Nationally Determined Contribution of the EU and its Member States’, 6 Mar. 2015, para. 3, available at: http://www4.unfccc.int/Submissions/INDC/Published%20Documents/Latvia/1/LV-03-06-EU%20INDC.pdf (INDC of the EU).

28 US Cover Note, ‘INDC and Accompanying Information’, 31 Mar. 2015, p. 4, available at: http://www4.unfccc.int/Submissions/INDC/Published%20Documents/United%20States%20of%20America/1/U.S.%20Cover%20Note%20INDC%20and%20Accompanying%20Information.pdf (INDC of the US).

29 ‘Enhanced Actions on Climate Change: China’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’, 30 June 2015, available at: http://www4.unfccc.int/Submissions/INDC/Published%20Documents/China/1/China’s%20INDC%20-%20on%2030%20June%202015.pdf (the English translation provided by the Chinese government appears in the second half of the document) (INDC of China).

30 Ibid., p. 5.

31 ‘India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution: Working Towards Climate Justice’, 1 Oct. 2015, p. 29, available at: http://www4.unfccc.int/Submissions/INDC/Published%20Documents/India/1/INDIA%20INDC%20TO%20UNFCCC.pdf (INDC of India).

32 See, in particular, Art. 3 Paris Agreement.

33 Decision 1/CP.21, n. 15 above, para. 22.

34 Ibid.

35 Art. 4.2 Paris Agreement (first sentence).

36 Ibid., Art. 4.9.

37 Ibid., Art. 4.3.

38 Ibid., Art. 4.2 (second sentence).

39 Ibid., Art. 13.5.

40 Ibid., Art. 13.7(b).

41 It falls within the definition of ‘an international agreement concluded between states in written form and governed by international law’: Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, Vienna (Austria), 23 May 1969, in force 27 Jan. 1980, available at: https://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/UNTS/Volume%201155/volume-1155-I-18232-English.pdf Art. 2.1(a) (VCLT).

42 Ibid., Art. 26.

43 See, in particular, Art. 2.1 Paris Agreement.

44 See, e.g., ibid., Art. 8.1.

45 See, e.g., ibid., Art. 7.7. These provisions typically use the auxiliary ‘should’.

46 To remove any doubt, ibid., Art. 20.2, mentions the existence of ‘obligations under this Agreement’.

47 See, e.g., ibid., Art. 13.7 (defining reporting obligations).

48 Ibid., Art. 2.1.

49 Ibid., Arts 2 and 3. Cf. Arts 2 and 4 UNFCCC; Kyoto Protocol, n. 1 above, Art. 3.1; Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, Montreal, QC (Canada), 16 Sept. 1987, in force 1 Jan. 1989, available at: http://ozone.unep.org/new_site/en/montreal_protocol.php, Art. 2. See generally Mayer, B., ‘Construing International Climate Change Law as a Compliance Regime’ (2018) 7(1) Transnational Environmental Law, pp. 115137 .

50 See, in particular, Kyoto Protocol, n. 1 above, Annex B.

51 Art. 4.12 Paris Agreement. The modalities of this registry are yet to be determined as part of the Paris Rulebook likely to be adopted at COP-24. For the moment, NDCs can be consulted through an interim registry available at: http://www4.unfccc.int/ndcregistry.

52 Art. 2 Paris Agreement.

53 Ibid., Art. 4.2.

54 See Charter of the United Nations, San Francisco, CA (US), 26 June 1945, in force 24 Oct. 1945, Art. 39, available at: http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter.

55 See General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, Havana (Cuba), 30 Oct. 1947, in force 1 Jan. 1948, Art. II.1, available at: https://www.wto.org/english/docs_e/legal_e/gatt47.pdf.

56 See the consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Lisbon (Portugal), 13 Dec. 2007, in force 1 Dec. 2009 [2012] OJ C 326/47, available at: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2012:326:FULL:EN:PDF.

57 Arts 4.1(a) and 12.1(a) UNFCCC; e.g. Art. 4.8 Paris Agreement.

58 VCLT, n. 41 above, Art. 31.1.

59 Rajamani, L., ‘The 2015 Paris Agreement: Interplay between Hard, Soft and Non-Obligations’ (2016) 28(2) Journal of Environmental Law, pp. 337358 , at 354.

60 Cf. Lawrence, P. & Wong, D., ‘Soft Law in the Paris Climate Agreement: Strength or Weakness?’ (2017) 26(3) Review of European, Comparative and International Environmental Law, pp. 276286 .

61 Bodansky, D., ‘The Legal Character of the Paris Agreement’ (2016) 25(2) Review of European, Comparative and International Environmental Law, pp. 142150 , at 146.

62 Winkler, H., ‘Mitigation’, in D. Klein et al., The Paris Agreement on Climate Change: Analysis and Commentary (Oxford University Press, 2017), pp. 141165 , at 147.

63 Arts 4.13, 6.2, 9.5 and 13.9 Paris Agreement. See Rajamani, n. 59 above (according to whom all these provisions (including Art. 4.2, second sentence) create ‘hard obligations’).

64 B. Mayer, ‘Obligations of Conduct in the International Law on Climate Change Mitigation: A Defence’ (2018 forthcoming) Review of European, Comparative & International Environmental Law.

65 See, e.g., Thomas, C., ‘La distinction des obligations de moyens et des obligations de résultat’ (1937) 57 Revue critique de législation et de jurisprudence, p. 636656 ; Belissent, J., Contribution à analyse de la distinction des obligations de moyens et des obligations de résultat: à propos de évolution des ordres de responsabilité civile (Librairie générale de droit et de jurisprudence (LGDJ), 2001).

66 See, e.g., Demogue, R., Traité des obligations en général (Editions Rousseau, 1925), Vol. 5, p. 538 ; Carbonnier, J., Droit civil (Presses universitaires de France (PUF), 1955), pp. 21902191 ; Combacau, J., ‘Obligations de résultat et obligations de comportement: quelques questions et pas de réponse’, in D. Bardonnet et al. (eds), Mélanges offerts à Paul Reuter: le droit international: unité et diversité (Pedone, 1981).

67 The object of this obligation is discussed in the next subsection.

68 The 6 original versions of the Paris Agreement are equally authentic, as provided in Art. 29 Paris Agreement. Consequently, this provision is to be interpreted in a way that is consistent with all of these versions, or else be given ‘the meaning which best reconciles the texts, having regard to the object and purpose of the treaty’: see VCLT, n. 41 above, Art. 33.

69 Art. 4.2 Paris Agreement (second sentence).

70 See, e.g., INDC of the EU, n. 27 above.

71 See, e.g., INDC of China, n. 29 above.

72 Art. 2.1 Paris Agreement.

73 See 10th Preambular recital UNFCCC.

74 Bodansky, D., ‘The Paris Climate Change Agreement: A New Hope?’ (2017) 110(2) American Journal of International Law, pp. 288319 , at 304.

75 This comma is absent from two of the six original languages of the Paris Agreement: French and Arabic. On the value of the six official versions, see n. 68 above.

76 Cf. Voigt, C., ‘The Paris Agreement: What Is the Standard of Conduct for Parties?’, Questions of International Law, Vol. 26, Mar. 2016, pp. 1728 , para. 20, available at: http://www.qil-qdi.org/paris-agreement-standard-conduct-parties (interpreting Art. 4.2 as requiring measures which are ‘meaningful and, indeed, effective to function as a means to this end’).

77 Mesures en vue de’ (literally ‘measures in the view of’, corresponding to ‘measures, with the aim of’) has typically been translated as ‘measures to’ or ‘measures for’: see, respectively, Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros Project (Hungary v. Slovakia), Judgment, 25 Sept. 1997, ICJ Reports 1997, p. 7, para. 25, and Sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge (Malaysia/Singapore), Judgment, ICJ Reports 2008, p. 12, para. 147.

78 See Art. 4.1(b) UNFCCC. See Bodansky, n. 61 above, p. 146; but see also D. Bodansky, ‘The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: A Commentary’ (1993) 18(2) Yale Journal of International Law, pp. 451–558, at 516 (where a lack of such individual benchmark was flagged as the main limitation of national commitments).

79 Unlike the affirmation of a goal in Art. 4.2(b) UNFCCC, the second sentence of Art. 4.2 Paris Agreement contains a clear obligation of conduct for the parties to pursue this aim. Cf. Bodansky, n. 61 above, p. 146.

80 Rajamani, L. & Brunnée, J., ‘The Legality of Downgrading Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement: Lessons from the US Disengagement’ (2017) 29(3) Journal of Environmental Law, pp. 537551 , at 542. See also Bodansky, D., Brunnée, J. & Rajamani, L., International Climate Change Law (Oxford University Press, 2017), p. 231 (noting that, although this provision establishes ‘binding obligations, they are obligations of conduct rather than result’). Others considered that this provision simply did not establish any international law obligation: see, e.g., Lawrence & Wong, n. 60 above; Bodansky, n. 61 above.

81 Art. 6.2 and 6.4 Paris Agreement.

82 See, e.g., Certain Activities Carried Out by Nicaragua in the Border Area (Costa Rica v. Nicaragua) and Construction of a Road in Costa Rica along the San Juan River (Nicaragua v. Costa Rica), Judgment, 16 Dec. 2015, ICJ Reports 2015, p. 665, para. 156.

83 See Kyoto Protocol Compliance Committee, Facilitative Branch, Report on the Meeting (22–23 Oct. 2012), CC/FB/12/2012/3, 9 Nov. 2012, available at: https://unfccc.int/files/kyoto_protocol/compliance/facilitative_branch/application/pdf/cc-fb-12-2012-3_report_on_the_meeting.pdf.

84 See, e.g., N. Popovich, ‘Trump’s Executive Order Pushes the U.S. Climate Pledge Further Out of Reach’, The New York Times, 28 Mar. 2017, available at: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/03/28/climate/trumps-executive-order-pushes-the-us-climate-pledge-further-out-of-reach.html.

85 See the Letter of M.R. Bloomberg to the UN Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Dec. 2017, available at https://www.americaspledgeonclimate.com/about.

86 See, e.g., LaGrand (Germany v. United States of America), Judgment, ICJ Reports 2001, p. 466, para. 111; Difference relating to Immunity from Legal Process of a Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights, Advisory Opinion, ICJ Reports 1999, p. 62, para. 62.

87 This question has largely been ignored in the climate law literature, which, instead, has focused on the Paris Agreement. For a rare exception see J.E. Viñuales, ‘The Paris Climate Agreement: An Initial Examination (Part II of III)’ EJIL: Talk, 8 Feb. 2016, available at: https://www.ejiltalk.org/the-paris-climate-agreement-an-initial-examination-part-ii-of-iii; H. Hellio, ‘Les “contributions déterminées au niveau national”, instrument au statut juridique en devenir’ (2017) HS Revue juridique de l’environnement, pp. 33–48, at 33. See also B. Müller, W. Geldhof & T. Ruys, ‘Unilateral Declarations: The Missing Legal Link in the Bali Action Plan’, European Capacity Building Initiative Policy Report, May 2010, available at: https://www.law.kuleuven.be/iir/nl/onderzoek/opinies/ecbiUDsfinal.pdf.

88 ICJ Statute, n. 5 above, Art. 38.1.

89 In addition to the references contained in the following notes, see generally Saganek, P., Unilateral Acts of States in Public International Law (Brill, 2016), Chs 10 and 11; Suy, E., Les actes juridiques unilatéraux en droit international public (LGDJ, 1962).

90 Legal Status of Eastern Green/and (Denmark v. Norway), Judgment, (1933) PCIJ, Series A/E, No. 53, p. 71, para. 192.

91 Nuclear Tests (Australia v. France), ICJ Reports 1974, p. 253, para. 43. See also Case concerning Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America), Judgment, 27 June 1986, ICJ Reports 1986, p. 132, para. 261, and Case concerning the Frontier Dispute (Burkina Faso v. Republic of Mali), ICJ Reports 1986, p. 573, para. 39.

92 Nuclear Tests, ibid., para. 46.

93 Ibid., para. 50.

94 Case concerning the Frontier Dispute, n. 91 above, para. 40.

95 ‘Guiding Principles Applicable to Unilateral Declarations of States Capable of Creating Legal Obligations, with Commentaries Thereto’, in Yearbook of the International Law Commission, 2006, Vol. II, Part Two, Principle 4.

96 Ibid., Principle 1.

97 Ibid., Principle 3. See generally Nuclear Tests, n. 91 above, para. 43; and Case concerning the Frontier Dispute, n. 91 above, para. 39.

98 Guiding Principles, n. 95 above, Principle 5. See generally Case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand), Preliminary Objections, Judgment, 26 May 1961, ICJ Reports 1961, p. 17, at 31; Nuclear Tests, n. 91 above, para. 45.

99 Guiding Principles, n. 95 above, Principle 7. See also Nuclear Tests, n. 91 above, para. 43; Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (New Application: 2002) (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Rwanda), Jurisdiction and Admissibility, Judgment, ICJ Reports 2006, p. 6, paras 50 and 52.

100 Guiding Principles, n. 95 above, Principle 6. See also Nuclear Tests, n. 91 above, para. 50.

101 See, e.g., Fisheries Jurisdiction (Spain v. Canada), Jurisdiction of the Court, Judgment, ICJ Reports 1998, p. 432, para. 46; Land and Maritime Boundary between Cameroon and Nigeria (Cameroon v. Nigeria), Preliminary Objections, Judgment, 11 June 1998, ICJ Reports 1998, p. 293, para. 30.

102 Decision 1/CP.19, n. 15 above, para. 2(b). See also Decision 1/CP.20, n. 15 above, paras 13–14; Decision 1/CP.21, n. 15 above, para. 13.

103 Decision 1/CP.20, n. 15 above, para. 14; Decision 1/CP.21, n. 15 above, para. 27.

104 UNFCCC Update Note, n. 21 above, para. 8.

105 See Case concerning the Frontier Dispute, n. 91 above, para. 40; Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo, n. 99 above, para. 53 (‘to assess the intentions of the author of a unilateral act, account must be taken of all the circumstances in which the act occurred’).

106 For a prominent example, see The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, ‘US-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change’, Beijing (Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC)), 12 Nov. 2014, available at: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2014/11/11/us-china-joint-announcement-climate-change. See also The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, ‘Remarks by President Obama and President Xi Jinping in Joint Press Conference’, Beijing (PRC), 12 Nov. 2014, available at: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2014/11/12/remarks-president-obama-and-president-xi-jinping-joint-press-conference; and The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, ‘Remarks by President Obama at G20 Press Conference’, Brisbane, Qld (Australia), 16 Nov. 2014, available at: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2014/11/16/remarks-president-obama-g20-press-conference-november-16-2014.

107 See nn. 95–100 above.

108 See, by analogy, Nuclear Tests, n. 91 above, paras 36–41.

109 Bodansky, n. 74 above, p. 304, note 102. See, e.g., ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contribution of Turkmenistan in Accordance with Decision 1/CP. 20, UNFCCC’, 30 Sep. 2015, p. 1, available at: http://www4.unfccc.int/Submissions/INDC/Published%20Documents/Turkmenistan/1/INDC_Turkmenistan.pdf.

110 See, e.g., Council of the European Union, ‘Outcome of the Council Meeting: 3373rd Council Meeting, Environment’, Document 6932/15, 6 Mar. 2015, p. 3, available at: https://www.consilium.europa.eu/media/23403/st06932en15.pdf (committing to a ‘binding EU target’).

111 See generally Posner, E.A. & Weisbach, D.A., Climate Change Justice (Princeton University Press, 2010).

112 See, by analogy, n. 92 above.

113 Decision 1/CP.19, n. 15 above, para. 2(c); see also Decision 1/CP.20, n. 15, para. 8.

114 Decision 1/CP.19, n. 15 above, para. 2(b); Decision 1/CP.20, n. 15 above, paras 8–9, 14, 16(a); Decision 1/CP.21, n. 15 above, para. 27.

115 INDC of the EU, n. 27 above, p. 1 (‘committed to a binding target’). This position was reiterated, for instance, in the ‘Council Conclusions on the Paris Agreement and Preparations for the UNFCCC Meetings’, 13 Oct. 2017, para. 8, available at: http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-13198-2017-INIT/en/pdf.

116 INDC of the US, n. 28 above, p. 1 (‘intends to achieve’). See also ‘Israel’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution’, 29 Sept. 2015, p. 1, available at: http://www4.unfccc.int/Submissions/INDC/Published%20Documents/Israel/1/Israel%20INDC.pdf (distinguishing between a target that it ‘intends to achieve’ by 2030 and an interim target ‘expected’ by 2025).

117 See Decision 1/CP.21, n. 15 above.

118 Rajamani, n. 59 above, p. 354.

119 Nuclear Tests, n. 91 above, para. 41.

120 Ibid.

121 Ibid.

122 Guiding Principles, n. 95 above, Principle 7. See also Nuclear Tests, n. 91 above, para. 51; Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo, n. 99 above, paras 50 and 52.

123 INDC of China, n. 29 above, p. 5. See also, e.g., Republic of the Philippines, ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’, 1 Oct. 2015, p. 1, available at: http://www4.unfccc.int/Submissions/INDC/Published%20Documents/Philippines/1/Philippines%20-%20Final%20INDC%20submission.pdf (‘recognizes its responsibility to contribute its fair share in global climate action’) (INDC of the Philippines).

124 Decision 1/CP.20, n. 15 above, para. 14.

125 INDC of the US, n. 28 above, p. 1.

126 See, e.g., Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, adopted by the UN Conference on Environment and Development, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), 3–14 June 1992, UN Doc. A/CONF.151/26/Rev.1 (Vol. I), 14 June 1992, Principle 2, available at: http://www.un.org/documents/ga/conf151/aconf15126-1annex1.htm; and generally Mayer, B., ‘The Relevance of the No-Harm Principle to Climate Change Law and Politics’ (2016) 19(1) Asia Pacific Journal of Environmental Law, pp. 79104 .

127 See, in particular, Art. 4.1(b) and 4.2(a) UNFCCC.

128 On a construction of the UNFCCC regime as a collective effort to promote compliance with the no-harm principle, see Mayer, n. 49 above.

129 See, e.g., INDC of China, n. 29 above.

130 See n. 102 above and accompanying text.

131 See n. 120 above.

132 INDC of India, n. 31 above, p. 30.

133 See, e.g., Lao People’s Democratic Republic, ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contribution’, 30 Sept. 2015, p.3, available at: http://www4.unfccc.int/Submissions/INDC/Published%20Documents/Laos/1/Lao%20PDR%20INDC.pdf. For other non-specific adaptation targets see, e.g., INDC of China, n. 29 above, p. 5 (end of section I); Ministry of Environment and Forest of the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’, 25 Sept. 2015, p. 10 (section 3.2), available at: http://www4.unfccc.int/Submissions/INDC/Published%20Documents/Bangladesh/1/INDC_2015_of_Bangladesh.pdf; INDC of the Philippines, n. 123, above, pp. 4–5; INDC of India, n. 31 above, pp. 19–20.

134 See ‘Zambia’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the 2015 Agreement on Climate Change’, 29 Sept. 2015, p. 7, available at: http://www4.unfccc.int/Submissions/INDC/Published%20Documents/Zambia/1/FINAL+ZAMBIA’S+INDC_1.pdf (noting that the adaptation component of its INDC ‘does not constitute an international obligation’).

135 INDC of the EU, n. 27 above; INDC of the US, n. 28 above.

136 ‘Submission of Japan’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC)’, 17 July 2015, available at: http://www4.unfccc.int/Submissions/INDC/Published%20Documents/Japan/1/20150717_Japan’s%20INDC.pdf (INDC of Japan).

137 ‘Submission by the Republic of Macedonia: Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’, 4 Aug. 2015, p. 3, available at: http://www4.unfccc.int/submissions/INDC/Published%20Documents/The%20former%20Yugoslav%20Republic%20of%20Macedonia/Submission_Republic_of_Macedonia_20150805144001_135181.pdf.

138 Federative Republic of Brazil, ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contribution towards Achieving the Objective of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’, 28 Sept. 2015, p. 1, available at: http://www4.unfccc.int/Submissions/INDC/Published%20Documents/Brazil/1/BRAZIL%20iNDC%20english%20FINAL.pdf.

139 See, by analogy, Asghar Leghari v. Federation of Pakistan (W.P. No. 25501/2015), Lahore High Court Green Bench, Orders of 4 and 14 Sept. 2015.

140 ‘Australia’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution to a New Climate Change Agreement’, 11 Aug. 2015, p. 1, available at: http://www4.unfccc.int/Submissions/INDC/Published%20Documents/Australia/1/Australias%20Intended%20Nationally%20Determined%20Contribution%20to%20a%20new%20Climate%20Change%20Agreement%20-%20August%202015.pdf (INDC of Australia). See also ‘South Africa’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC)’, 25 Sept. 2015, p. 3, available at: http://www4.unfccc.int/Submissions/INDC/Published%20Documents/South%20Africa/1/South%20Africa.pdf (INDC of South Africa).

141 INDC of Australia, ibid., p. 1.

142 See ‘Conclusions of the European Council’, EUCO 169/14, 23–24 Oct. 2014, paras 1–6, available at: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/ec/145397.pdf.

143 See the statements reported in A. Vishnoi & D.R. Chaudhury, ‘Dismissing Donald Trump’s Snarl, India Vows To Stay on the Green Path’ The Economic Times, 3 June 2017, available at: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/dismissing-donald-trumps-snarl-india-vows-to-stay-on-the-green-path/articleshow/58969162.cms.

144 See, e.g., INDC of South Africa, n. 140 above, p. 7.

145 See, e.g., Republic of Indonesia, ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contribution’, 24 Sept. 2015, pp. 5–6, available at: http://www4.unfccc.int/Submissions/INDC/Published%20Documents/Indonesia/1/INDC_REPUBLIC%20OF%20INDONESIA.pdf.

146 See, e.g., INDC of Japan, n. 136 above, p. 4, available at: http://www4.unfccc.int/Submissions/INDC/Published%20Documents/Japan/1/20150717_Japan’s%20INDC.pdf.

147 Decision 1/CP.19, n. 15 above, para. 2(c); see also Decision 1/CP.20, n. 15 above, para. 8.

148 See n. 113 above and accompanying text.

149 Art. 4.2 Paris Agreement (second sentence). See Section 3.3 above.

150 INDC of the EU, n. 27 above, p. 1 (stating that the EU and its Member States are ‘committed to a binding target … to be fulfilled jointly’ – language which suggests an obligation of conduct).

151 INDC of the US, n. 28 above, p. 3; INDC of China, n. 29 above, p. 5.

152 China and the US could have amended their INDC when ratifying the Paris Agreement, but neither of them did.

153 ‘Conclusions of the Work of the Study Group on the Fragmentation of International Law: Difficulties Arising from the Diversification and Expansion of International Law’, in Yearbook of the International Law Commission, 2006, Vol. II, Part Two, para. 2 (according to which a conflict arises between two norms when the norms ‘point to incompatible decisions so that a choice must be made between them’). There exists a strong presumption against such conflict, according to the ‘principle of harmonization’: ibid., para. 4.

154 Art. 20 Paris Agreement.

155 Art. 20 UNFCCC.

156 Guiding Principles, n. 95 above, para. 2.

157 See Dehaussy, J., ‘Les actes juridiques unilatéraux en droit international public: à propos d’une théorie restrictive’ (1965) 92 Journal de droit international, pp. 4166 , at 52–3. See generally Daillier, P. & Pellet, A., Droit international public, 7 th edn (LGDJ, 2002), pp. 367ff . See also, by analogy, VCLT, n. 41 above, Art. 5; ILC, ‘Draft Articles on the Responsibility of International Organizations, with Commentaries’, in Yearbook of the International Law Commission, 2011, Vol. II, Part Two.

158 ‘Submission by Republic of China (Taiwan): Intended Nationally Determined Contribution’, available at: https://enews.epa.gov.tw/enews/enews_ftp/104/1117/174044/Submission%20by%20Republic%20of%20China%20(Taiwan)Intended%20Nationally%20Determined%20Contribution.pdf.

159 Ibid., p. 1.

160 See generally the various commitments gathered in the Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action, available at: http://climateaction.unfccc.int.

161 See, e.g., Sun, Z., ‘International Legal Personality of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’ (2008) 7(2) Chinese Journal of International Law, pp. 339352 . See also Mayer, B., ‘Climate Change Mitigation in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’ (2017) 7(2–3) Climate Law, pp. 6596 .

162 See, in particular, Conseil d’État (France), Assembly, 15 Oct. 1993, No. 144590, Receuil Lebon, p. 238, available at: https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichJuriAdmin.do?idTexte=CETATEXT000007835398 (recognizing a unilateral declaration by the state of Texas that a defendant would not be subjected to capital punishment as a basis to allow for his extradition).

163 See Section 3.3 above.

164 See Section 4.3 above.

165 This may raise questions of constitutional law within the domestic legal order. Yet, the validity of a unilateral declaration could be questioned only if the authority was manifestly incompetent: see Guiding Principles, n. 95 above, Principle 4; and, by analogy, VCLT, n. 41 above, Art. 46.

166 See Section 3.2 above.

167 See Section 4.2 above, in particular nn. 113 and 114.

168 See Decision 1/CP.21, n. 15 above, para. 22 (in effect permitting any state or entity having communicated an INDC to revise it and submit a different NDC when ratifying the Paris Agreement).

169 See VCLT, n. 41 above, Art. 36.

170 See, e.g., Reservations to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Advisory Opinion, ICJ Reports 1951, p. 15, at 23. See, however, Barcelona Traction, Light and Power Company Ltd, Judgment, ICJ Reports 1970, p. 3, para. 34 (which notes, as an obiter dictum, that some obligations erga omnes ‘are conferred by international instruments of a universal or quasi-universal character’).

171 See, e.g., Dehaussy, n. 157 above, pp. 57 et passim.

172 P.M. Dupuy, ‘International Law and Domestic (Municipal) Law’, in Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law (Oxford University Press, 2011).

173 Art. 28 Paris Agreement.

174 Guiding Principles, n. 95 above, Principle 10. See also, by analogy, VCLT, n. 41 above, Art. 56.1 (which excludes revocation in the absence of explicit or implied provision). See generally V.R. Cedeño & M.I. Torres Cazorla, ‘Unilateral Acts of States in International Law’, in Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law (Oxford University Press, 2017), para. 31.

175 Case concerning Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America), Jurisdiction and Admissibility, Judgment, 26 Nov. 1984, ICJ Reports 1984, p. 392, para. 63. See also African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights, In the Matter of Ingabire Victoire Umuhoza v. Republic of Rwanda, Application 003/2014, Ruling on Jurisdiction, para. 66.

176 See discussion and reference at n. 128 above.

177 See International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), World Declaration on the Environmental Rule of Law (adopted by the IUCN World Congress on Environmental Law, 26–29 Apr. 2016), Principle 12, available at: https://www.iucn.org/sites/dev/files/content/documents/world_declaration_on_the_environmental_rule_of_law_final_2017-3-17.pdf.

178 See, e.g., Rajamani & Brunnée, n. 80 above; J. Church, ‘Why the US Can’t Downgrade Its Paris Pledge for Political Convenience’, ClientEarth, 12 May 2017, available at: https://www.clientearth.org/why-the-us-cannot-downgrade-its-paris-climate-pledge-for-the-sake-of-political-convenience.

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Transnational Environmental Law
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