It has been observed that the Paris Agreement has become an “analogy” of diplomatic success and institutional design because it allows emissions reduction commitments to be determined at the national level. While this is widely attributed to the United States’ insistence on excluding any provisions that would have required US Senate ratification, the success of Paris stems more from the way the agreement partly circumvents the divergent interests of developed and developing countries by allowing states to pursue their own mitigation strategies based on domestic distributional and ideological politics rather than interstate cooperation and/or competition. It is this accommodation of both an institutionalist logic of absolute gains and a more realist logic of relative gains that ultimately underpins the diplomatic and institutional design success of Paris. However, the resonance of realism, at least in its neoclassical form, also stems from its greater capacity to accommodate the heightened socioecological complexity, interconnectedness, and unknowability occasioned by the Anthropocene than other branches of Anthropocentric international relations theory. This potential is outlined in this Forum article by sketching the epistemological and ontological connections between neoclassical realism and the concept of resilience.

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