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The 2015 Paris Climate Conference

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The paper applies argumentative discourse analysis to a corpus of official statements made by key players (USA, EU, China, India, etc.) at the opening of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference. The chief goal is to reveal the underlying structure of practical arguments and values legitimising the global climate change policy-making. The paper investigates which of the elements of practical arguments were common and which were contested by various players. One important conclusion is that a complex, multilateral deal such as the 2015 Paris Agreement is based on a fragile consensus. This consensus can be precisely described in terms of the key premises of practical arguments that various players share (mostly: description of current circumstances and future goals) and the premises they still discuss but prefer not to prioritise (value hierarchies or precise measures). It thus provides an insight into how a fragile consensus over goals may lead to a multilateral agreement through argumentative processes.

Keywords: COP21; Paris Climate Agreement; climate change discourse; environmental argumentation; polylogue; practical argumentation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 14, 2019

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