What is it about?

Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges the world faces today. Addressing climate change requires strong climate laws and regulations. At present, the main contractual sources of global climate laws are the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) and the Paris Agreement (PA). Sadly, a lot of content listed out in these two sources are vague. Ambition is one such element that the PA uses to list out and achieve its goals. But there is disagreement on the clear meaning and nature of ambition. Considering this, the author of this paper sought help from national court rulings that interpret, apply, and take into account the concept of ambition for climate protection. He found that the word ambition is rarely used in an explicit sense. Many definitions of ambition are addressed by national decisions that deal with climate protection. Some relevant elements of ambition refer to setting targets, such as reducing greenhouse gases. Although a few decisions are valuable and promote ambitious action, they are not specific enough to draw clear conclusions from.

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Why is it important?

While most climate related decisions follow domestic laws, some are based on human rights. This adds to the possibility of getting a higher level of ambition. Climate science and the idea of a global total emissions budget are the important aspects of ambition with regard to target setting. But unless they are modified, their power in international negotiations will be limited, leading to inaction. The vague definition of ambition also limits the effective applications of these frameworks for climate protection. KEY TAKEAWAY: To improve climate litigation in the future, a thorough definition of ambition is needed. This will help us to use it well on the ground as well.

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This page is a summary of: Ambition as a Legal Concept in the Paris Agreement and Climate Litigation: Some Reflections, Environmental Policy and Law, December 2022, IOS Press, DOI: 10.3233/epl-219044.
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