The New Status Quo of the Paris Agreement: The Psychological Impact of the 2 Degrees Aspiration

Arden Rowell, Josephine Van Zeben

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This brief opinion piece draws upon behavioural and cognitive research to argue that the Paris Agreement's goal of keeping global temperature change below 2 degrees Celsius sets a psychologically powerful baseline against which future policy failures can be measured. When international law successfully triggers perception of a baseline, it can lead decisionmakers to perceive deviations from that baseline as "losses." This implicates loss aversion, which provides an additional motivation to achieve international norms. The psychological impacts of this new status quo may end up being more powerful and more durable than either the unusual structure of the document or the domestic implementation questions that have already attracted so much scholarly debate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-53
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Risk Regulation
Volume5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

Keywords

  • International law
  • Loss aversion
  • Prospect theory
  • status quo bias
  • baseline
  • psychology of law
  • Paris agreement
  • climate change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety Research

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