The article “Analyzing Soft Law and Hard Law in Climate Change” by Institute researcher Antto Vihma has been published in the book “Climate Change and the Law”, published by Springer.
Abstract There is a great deal of variety in the international environmental agreements
that have mushroomed in past decades. These legal arrangements can be
placed on a continuum from hard law – precise and legally binding treaties that
oblige a behavioural change with delegated enforcement bodies – to the softest of
soft law, with its vague, aspirational goals and no delegation or institutional followup.
The legalization continuum is a more insightful starting point for analyzing
international agreements than ‘bottom-up’ vs. ‘top-down’ or ‘pledge-and-review’
vs. ‘targets-and-timetables’ that are often suggested by reports and policy papers.
When applying the legalization lenses to the UN climate regime, two big trends
emerge. There is a notable turn toward soft law in developed country commitments
in climate mitigation. In the meantime, the UN regime is becoming harder by providing
greater transparency of climate actions of all major economies.