Volume 30
Issue 1
Fall '17

Nonbinding Subnational International Agreements: A Landscape Defined

Written By: Aaron Messing

Abstract

The political and sociological trends evident from the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States represent significant limitations on the high international aspirations for climate change reform following the Paris Agreement. Subnational action will now be as important as ever for forward progress in this space; however, legal limitations prevent Subunits from taking fully concrete and deliberate action. Thus, the climate action movement is left with an imperfect mechanism with which to continue reform. This movement must be aware of its landscape of possibilities to be as effective as possible. This Note identifies four categories of nonbinding subnational international agreements that constitute the different possibilities for action: near-binding arrangements, memoranda of understanding, third-party representation, and unilateral declarations. Each of these categories has advantages and disadvantages, but with continued study of the formulation of these types of agreements, a hybrid arrangement may arise that has the capacity to utilize the advantages of some types while avoiding the disadvantages of others.

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