Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 130, Issue 2, pp 375–387 | Cite as

The Role of the Private Sector in Global Climate and Energy Governance

  • José Célio Silveira Andrade
  • José Antônio Puppim de Oliveira


The private sector plays an active role in implementation of mechanisms concerning the mitigation of climate change. In spite of that, the corporate actors play a limited direct role in international arenas when it comes to negotiating the design of climate and energy regime. The climate and energy governance in the United Nations system remains mostly state-centric, but the active participation of corporate actors in negotiation of climate and energy regimes is essential to increase the effectiveness of their governance. Business is not just a subject of a regulatory climate and energy imposed by the state; rather, business is an intrinsic part of the fabric of climate and energy governance, as “rule-maker,” particularly in the many voluntary regimes. However, the architecture in place should guarantee that the private sector does not highjack the decisions and its positions are balanced by other non-governmental actors in the process. This article analyzes the role that the private sector can play in the global climate and energy governance. The private sector does not only play a “rule taker” role in the climate change and energy regime. Indeed, they are not passive observers as they influence through indirect means. The results suggest that the private sector is able to play a key role in global climate and energy governance based on the principle of multi-stakeholder participation in global decision-making, but the architecture should be able to balance the goods and bads of private direct influence in international regimes.


Architecture Climate change Energy Governance Private sector 


  1. Andrade, J. C. S., & Taravella, R. (2009). Les oubliés de la réforme de la gouvernance internationale de l’environnement. Critique Internationale, 45(1), 119–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bäckstrand, K. (2006). Multi-stakeholder partnerships for sustainable development: Rethinking legitimacy, accountability and effectiveness. European Environment, 16(1), 290–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Benedick, R. E. (1998). Ozone diplomacy. New directions in safeguarding the planet. CambridgeUSA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bled, A. (2007). Global environmental politics: Regulation for or against the private sector? The case of the Cartagena Protocol on biosafety. Political Perspectives, 1(5), 20–42.Google Scholar
  5. Brühl, T. (2002). The privatisation of international climate governance. In F. Biermann, R. Brohm & K. Dingwerth (Eds.) Proceedings of the 2001 Berlin conference on the human dimensions of global environmental change “Global environmental change and the nation state” (pp. 371–380). Potsdam: Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.Google Scholar
  6. Bruno, K. (2002). Greenwash +10: The UN’s Global Compact, Corporate Accountability and the Johannesburg Earth Summit. California: CorpWatch.Google Scholar
  7. Campbell, L. (1998). Emission trading, joint implementation and the clean development mechanism: The role of private sector and the other non-state actors in implementation. In W. B. Chambers (Ed.), Global climate governance: Inter-linkages between the Kyoto Protocol and other multilateral regimes (pp. 15–30). Tokyo: UNU/IAS.Google Scholar
  8. CDP. (2013). Members & Signatories. Accessed October 27, 2013.
  9. Clapp, J. (2005). Global environmental governance for corporate responsibility and accountability. Global Environmental Politics, 5(3), 23–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Clapp, J., & Dauvergne, P. (2005). Paths to a Green World: The political economy of the global environment. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  11. Clapp, J., & Thistlethwaite, J. (2012). Private voluntary programs in environmental governance: Climate change and the financial sector. In K. Ronit (Ed.), Business and climate policy: The potentials and pitfalls of private voluntary programs (pp. 53–74). New York: United Nations University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Dawkins and Fraas. (2011). Coming clean: The impact of environmental performance and visibility on corporate climate change disclosure. Journal of Business Ethics, 100(2), 303–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dunn, S. (2005). Down to business on climate change: An overview of corporate strategies. In K. Begg, F. Woerd, & D. L. Levy (Eds.), The business of climate change: Corporate responses to Kyoto (pp. 31–46). Sheffield: Greenleaf.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Eberlein, B., & Matten, D. (2009). Business responses to climate change regulation in Canada and Germany: Lessons for MNCs from emerging economies. Journal of Business Ethics, 86(2), 241–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Falkner, R. (2003). Private environmental governance and international relations: Exploring the links. Global Environmental Politics, 3(2), 72–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Falkner, R. (2007). Business power and conflict in international environmental politics. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  17. Gangale, F., & Mengoline, A. (2011). CDM contribution to RES penetration in the power generation sector of China and India. International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology, 18(4), 283–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Garcia-Johnson, R. (2000). Exporting environmentalism: US multinational chemical corporations in Brazil and Mexico. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  19. ICE (2013). Chicago Climate Exchange. Accessed October 31, 2013.
  20. IPCC. (2007). Climate change 2007: Synthesis report. In Core Writing Team, R. K. Pachauri & A. Reisinger (Eds.), Contribution of working groups I, II and III to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Geneva: IPCC.Google Scholar
  21. IPCC. (2013). Summary for policymakers. In T. F. Stocker, D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S. K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex & P. M. Midgley (Eds.), Climate change 2013: The physical science basis. Contribution of working group I to the fifth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Ivanova, M., Gordon, D., & Roy, J. (2007). Towards institutional symbiosis: Business and the United Nations in environmental governance. RECIEL, 16(2), 123–134.Google Scholar
  23. Kalfagianni, A. (2013). Addressing the global sustainability challenge: The potential and pitfalls of private governance from the perspective of human capabilities. Journal of Business Ethics,. doi: 10.1007/s10551-013-1747-6.Google Scholar
  24. Kanie, N., et al. (2013). Green pluralism: Lessons for improved environmental governance in the 21st century. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, 55(5), 14–30. doi: 10.1080/00139157.2013.824339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Karakosta, C., Doukas, H., & Psarras, J. (2012). Carbon market and technology transfer: Statistical analysis for exploring implications. International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology, 19(4), 311–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Karakosta, C., Marinakis, V., Letsou, P., & Psarras, J. (2013). Does the CDM offer sustainable development benefits or not? International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology, 20(1), 1–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Knox-Hayes, J., & Levy, D. (2011). The politics of carbon disclosure as climate governance. Strategic Organization, 9(1), 91–99.Google Scholar
  28. Kolk, A., & Hoffmann, V. (2007). Business, climate change and emissions trading: Taking stock and looking ahead. European Management Journal, 25(6), 411–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kolk, A., & Pinkse, J. (2007). Multinationals’ political activities on climate change. Business and Society, 46(2), 201–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kollmuss, A., Zink, H., & Polycap, C. (2008). Making sense of the voluntary carbon market: A comparison of carbon offset standards. Germany: WWF.Google Scholar
  31. Kulovesi, K. (2007). The private sector and the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol: Experiences, challenges and prospects. RECIEL, 16(2), 145–157.Google Scholar
  32. Le Prestre, P. (2005). Protection de l’environnement et relations internationales: les défis de l’écopolitique mondiale. Paris: Armand Colin.Google Scholar
  33. Levy, D. L., & Jones, C. A. (2008). Business strategies and climate change, United States.,_United_States. Accessed September 21, 2009.
  34. Levy, D. L., & Kolk, A. (2002). Strategic responses to global climate change: Conflicting pressures on multinationals in the oil industry. Business and Politics, 4(3), 275–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Levy, D. L., & Newell, P. J. (2000). Oceans apart? Business responses to global environmental issues in Europe and the United States. Environment, 42(9), 8–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Levy, D. L., & Newell, P. J. (Eds.). (2005). The business of global environmental governance. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  37. Morgera, E. (2006). The UN and corporate environmental responsibility: Between international regulation and partnerships. RECIEL, 15(1), 93–109.Google Scholar
  38. Najam, A., Papa, M., & Taiyab, N. (2006). Global environmental governance: A reform agenda. Winnipeg, Manitoba: IDDRI.Google Scholar
  39. Newell, P. (2000). Climate change: Non-state actors and the politics of the greenhouse. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. O’Neill, K. (2009). The environment and international relations. UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Okereke, C., & Bulkeley, H. (2007). Conceptualizing climate change governance beyond the international regime: A review of four theoretical approaches. Tyndall Centre Working Paper 112.Google Scholar
  42. Peters, G. F., & Romi, A. M. (2013). Does the voluntary adoption of corporate governance mechanisms improve environmental risk disclosures? Evidence from greenhouse gas emission accounting. Journal of Business Ethics. Accessed April 04, 2013.
  43. Pinkse, J., & Kolk, A. (2009). International business and global climate change. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  44. Pinto, R., & Puppim de Oliveira, J. (2008). Implementation challenges in protecting the global environmental commons: The case of climate change policies in Brazil. Public Administration and Development, 28(5), 340–350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Porter, G., & Brown, J. W. (1996). Global environmental politics (2nd ed.). Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  46. Prado-Lorenzo, J.-M., & Garcia-Sanchez, I.-M. (2010). The role of the board of directors in disseminating relevant information on greenhouse gases. Journal of Business Ethics, 97(3), 391–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Pulver, S. (2005). Organising business: Industry NGOs in the climate debates. In K. Begg, F. Woerd, & D. L. Levy (Eds.), The business of climate change: Corporate responses to Kyoto (pp. 47–60). Sheffield: Greenleaf.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Puppim de Oliveira, J. (2005). Enforcing protected area guidelines in Brazil: What explains participation in the implementation process? Journal of Planning Education and Research - JPER, 24(4), 420–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rasche, A., Baur, D., Huijstee, M., Ladek, S., Naidu, J., Perla, C., et al. (2008). Corporations as political actors—A report on the first swiss master class in corporate social. Responsibility Journal of Business Ethics, 80(2), 151–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Rasche, A., & Gilbert, D. U. (2012). Institutionalizing global governance: The role of the United Nations global compact. Business Ethics: A European Review, 21(1), 100–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Ruggie, J. G. (2002). The theory and practice of learning networks: Corporate social responsibility and the global compact. Journal of Corporate Citizenship, 5(1), 27–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Sampson, G. (1998). WTO rules and climate change: The need for policy coherence. In W. B. Chambers (Ed.), Global climate governance: Inter-linkages between the Kyoto Protocol and other multilateral regimes (pp. 12–25). Tokyo: UNU/IAS.Google Scholar
  53. Schmidheiny, S. (1992). Changing course: A global business perspective on development and the environment. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  54. Sethi, S. P., & Schepers, D. H. (2013). United Nations global compact: The promise–performance gap. Journal of Business Ethics,. doi: 10.1007/s10551-013-1629-y.Google Scholar
  55. Streck, C. (2004). New partnerships in global environmental policy: The Clean Development Mechanism. The Journal of Environmental Development, 13(1), 295–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. United Nations Global Compact. (2014). Global compact governance. Accessed April 30, 2014.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • José Célio Silveira Andrade
    • 1
  • José Antônio Puppim de Oliveira
    • 2
  1. 1.Management SchoolFederal University of BahiaSalvadorBrazil
  2. 2.United Nations University - Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS)TokyoJapan

Personalised recommendations