Harnessing international climate governance to drive a sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic

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Wolfgang Obergassel
Lukas Hermwille
Sebastian Oberthür

Abstract

The impacts of the COVID-19 crisis and the global response to it will co-determine the future of climate policy. The recovery packages responding to the impacts of the pandemic may either help to chart a new sustainable course, or they will further cement existing high-emission pathways and thwart the achievement of the Paris Agreement objectives. This article discusses how international climate governance may help align the recovery packages with the climate agenda. For this purpose, the article investigates five key governance functions through which international institutions may contribute: send guidance and signals, establish rules and standards, provide transparency and accountability, organize the provision of means of implementation, and promote collective learning. Reflecting on these functions, the article finds that the process under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), together with other international institutions, could promote sustainable recovery in several ways.

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