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Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2812;

Paris Agreement, Precautionary Principle and Human Rights: Zero Emissions in Two Decades?

Research Unit Sustainability and Climate Policy, 04229 Leipzig, Germany
Faculty of Law, Rostock University, 18051 Rostock, Germany
Science Campus Phosphorus Research, Rostock University, 18051 Rostock, Germany
Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Rostock University, 18051 Rostock, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 12 June 2018 / Revised: 26 July 2018 / Accepted: 4 August 2018 / Published: 8 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources)
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The Paris Agreement of December 2015 is subject to much criticism of being inadequate. This however neglects its very ambitious objective, which limits legally-binding global warming to 1.5 to 1.8 degrees in comparison to pre-industrial levels. This article shows, based on the overlap of unanswered questions for prognoses in natural science and the legal precautionary principle, that this objective indicates a legal imperative towards zero emissions globally within a short timeframe. Furthermore, it becomes apparent that policies need to be focused on achieving the 1.5-degree temperature limit. From a legal standpoint with regard to existential matters, only those policies are justified that are fit to contribute to reaching the temperature limit with high certainty, without overshoot, without leaving the 1.5 limit aside and without geoengineering measures, in contrast to the tendencies of the IPCC. This creates a big challenge even for the alleged forerunners of climate policies, Germany and the EU; because, according to the objective, the EU and Germany have to raise the level of ambition in their climate policies rapidly and drastically. View Full-Text
Keywords: Paris Agreement; precautionary principle; human rights; climate change; IPCC Paris Agreement; precautionary principle; human rights; climate change; IPCC
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Ekardt, F.; Wieding, J.; Zorn, A. Paris Agreement, Precautionary Principle and Human Rights: Zero Emissions in Two Decades? Sustainability 2018, 10, 2812.

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