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Obligations to Reduce Emissions: From the Oslo Principles to Enterprises

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Obligations to Reduce Emissions: From the Oslo Principles to Enterprises

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Abstract

The release of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) by the activities of humans is a major contributor to current global climate change. A major environmental catastrophe caused by this climate change will be averted only if the emission of GHGs are drastically reduced. Attempts have been made to reach international agreements among nations to achieve this, but these attempts, of which the Paris Agreement is the most recent, appear to be inadequate and ineffective. A group of scholars, the Oslo group, therefore asked the question whether more comprehensive obligations that bind states and enterprises could be deduced from other sources of law. The attempts to answer these questions have culminated in the Oslo Principles on Global Climate Change Obligations. The basic methodology that was followed in drafting the Oslo Principles is described. The Oslo group concluded that several concrete obligations to mitigate climate change could be stated by reference to international and domestic law. Particular attention is given in this contribution to tort law as a basis for mitigation obligations in the Oslo Principles but some attention is also given to other areas of law. The central pillar of the Oslo Principles is the primary mitigation obligation, which according to the Principles, is imposed on states. The ambit and nature of this obligation are described. Finally, it is acknowledged that the Oslo Principles only describe rudimentary obligations on enterprises and that it is both difficult and necessary to set out mitigation obligations that can be imposed on enterprises. The contribution finally proposes that the ideas behind the Oslo Principles and United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights can be utilised in devising basic mitigation obligations for enterprises.

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... However, it would be difficult for a government to mandate companies to take action by law. It is more feasible to offer incentives or put social pressure on companies to make them reduce their emissions [12,13]. This also implies the close interaction and correlation between countries and companies regarding climate change issues. ...
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The Paris Agreement requires countries to propose their National Determined Contributions (NDCs) and encourages companies to engage in climate action. This two-stage study explores the mutual influence of national and corporate carbon reduction targets and their effect on the adoption of renewable energy using Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM). The subjects are companies nested in the G20, engaging in the Science-Based Target initiative (SBTi) or the RE100 initiative. These empirical results show corporate targets are positively correlated to adoption of renewable energy, and development of renewable energy varies by country groups, however; national targets are insignificantly correlated. Our key findings: (1) companies which set SBTs are more willing to use renewable energy to achieve their targets but prefer power purchase agreements (PPAs) and renewable energy certificates (RECs) to investment in renewables. (2) The effect of a national-level target on corporate renewable energy use is non-significant, probably because most multinational corporations are used to compliance and their performances are likely to be better than the national deployment on climate change. We argue that an industrial energy transition to renewables is economically beneficial and needs substantial support in the form of policies or subsidies, instead of just setting targets or attracting publicity.
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