As we discussed in class, the Paris Agreement is rather underwhelming in terms of concrete actionable items, especially given the way it is often portrayed in the media. One shortcoming that seemed particularly glaring was the lack of a system of accountability for the various Parties; the document failed to specify or define a mechanism for reporting and maintaining any goals. I think a policy initiative that created such a system would help facilitate real change, and pick up where the Paris Agreement left off (which was essentially a consensus that the problem is real and worth solving).
To govern over the environmental actions of the world, I would write policy that institutionalizes a group responsible for collecting reports from participating countries, evaluating the work, and reporting feedback. This group would belong to the UN, and be composed of internationally selected members. The group’s power to enforce its practices would be granted by the UN, and would come in the form of sanctions or fines to countries that fail to comply with its policies and protocol. The money generated from these penalties would be used to fund research into environmental science, with a focus on climate change solutions. The Paris Agreement was successful in proposing something as general as this, so now I will try to be as specific as possible.
The group itself would be composed of scientists, rather than diplomats, as their job would be to rigorously analyze the environmental solutions of other nations. A wide range of scientific disciplines would be represented, with all major related fields included (this means having marine biologists and botanists and not just environmental scientists). With a group composed of scientists, its objectives and actions would be guided by science rather than politics or nationalistic interests, and thereby avoid the politicization of the problem that is currently undermining America’s environmental attitude.