Environmental Economics and Policy Studies

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 137–155 | Cite as

Connect the dots: managing the fragmentation of global climate governance

  • Harro van AsseltEmail author
  • Fariborz Zelli
Research Article Governance on Low Carbon Technology Transfer


The debate about post-2012 global climate governance has been framed largely by proponents and opponents of the policymaking process established by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In light of the proliferation of institutions governing some aspects of climate change, analysts have asked whether a centralized or a polycentric climate governance architecture will be more effective, efficient, equitable, or viable. While these are valid questions, they obscure the fact that global climate governance is already polycentric, or rather: fragmented. This article argues that the more pertinent questions are how to sensibly link the different elements of global climate governance, and what the role of the UNFCCC could be in this regard. We examine these two questions for three aspects of global climate governance: international climate technology initiatives, emerging emissions trading systems, and unilateral trade measures. The article shows that there are strong arguments for coordination in all of these cases, and illustrates the possible role of the UNFCCC. It concludes, however, that possibilities for coordination will eventually be limited by underlying tensions that will plague any future climate governance architecture.


Clean technologies Climate governance Emissions trading Institutional complexity Trade measures 



The authors would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on an earlier draft, although any errors remain, of course, our own. Harro van Asselt would like to acknowledge funding by the European Commission’s Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship Programme (CLIMATEGOV—Contract no. 253090).


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stockholm Environment InstituteStockholmSweden
  2. 2.University of OxfordOxfordUK
  3. 3.Lund UniversityLundSweden

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