Skip to main content

Advertisement

Log in

The strength of weakness: pseudo-clubs in the climate regime

  • Published:
Climatic Change Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

The political utility of clubs hinges on their ability to provide excludable benefits to members. But in some cases of climate clubs, membership is not easily demarcated, and excludable benefits may be minimal. I argue that these governance initiatives—where membership is fluid and benefits are small—are more accurately defined as “pseudo-clubs.” Though they function differently than conventional clubs, “pseudo-clubs” can have considerable political utility. They can lay the foundations for emissions mitigation by solving technical problems associated with the measurement of GHGs. Moreover, since they have low entry costs and minimal sanctions, they can easily attract large numbers of users. With broad membership “pseudo-clubs” can help promote the uptake of standards, potentially solving coordination problems. However, since measurement is only a precursor to reduction, ultimately, incentives to measure will have to be coupled with rules to reduce emissions. Environmentally effective pseudo-clubs will eventually need the help of governments to shift from coordinating emissions measurement to cooperating on emissions reduction. Pseudo-clubs can serve as an initial building block toward meaningful climate action, but governments will have to finish the job.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

Notes

  1. Since creating this initial “corporate” standard in 2001, the GHG Protocol has issued a number of different standards, all with slightly different targets. See Green 2010, 2014.

  2. https://www.cdp.net/en-US/Programmes/Pages/climate-change-programs.aspx.

  3. See CDP 2013 Scoring Methodology. Available at https://www.cdproject.net/Documents/Guidance/CDP-2013-Scoring-Methodology.pdf

  4. These benefits are excerpted directly from http://www.cdproject.net/en-US/Respond/Pages/companies.aspx#whyreport.

  5. http://www.c40.org/

  6. http://www.covenantofmayors.eu

  7. http://www.cdproject.net

  8. www.theclimateregistry.org.

  9. http://citiesclimateregistry.org/about/mission/

  10. See http://www.c40.org/networks

  11. As noted above, C40 is in the process of developing a standard for measuring and reporting city-level emissions. This component of the institution could be considered a pseudo club according to the definition set forth above.

  12. Granovetter himself notes that the strength of ties is generally recognizable on an “intuitive basis” (p. 1361).

  13. https://www.cdp.net/en-US/Results/Pages/overview.aspx

  14. https://www.cdp.net/CDPResults/CDP-Global-500-Climate-Change-Report-2013.pdf.

  15. Lenox and Nash 2003 find that voluntary environmental clubs exhibit qualities of adverse selection, where the worst polluters are more likely to join clubs with weak rules – a clear form of greenwashing.

  16. Similar patterns of adoption are also occurring with actual clubs, such as voluntary offset standards. This demonstrates an additional route through which clubs might be an effective approach to GHG reduction—by paving the way for government action.

  17. http://epa.gov/statelocalclimate/state/state-examples/ghg-inventory.html.

  18. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/206392/pb13944-env-reporting-guidance.pdf

  19. See https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/reducing-the-uk-s-greenhouse-gas-emissions-by-80-by-2050.

References

  • Abbott KW (2012) The transnational regime complex for climate change. Environ Plan C Gov Policy 30:571–590

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Andonova LB, Betsill MM, Bulkeley H (2009) Transnational climate governance. Glob Environ Polit 9:52–73. doi:10.1162/glep.2009.9.2.52

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bernstein S, Cashore B (2007) Can non-state global governance be legitimate? An analytical framework. Regul Gov 1:347–371

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Buchanan JM (1965) An economic theory of clubs. Economica 32:1–14. doi:10.2307/2552442

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cashore B, Auld G, Newsom D (2004) Governing through markets: forest certification and the emergence of Non- state authority. Yale University Press, New Haven

    Google Scholar 

  • Cashore B, Auld G, Bernstein S, McDermott C (2007) Can Non-state governance “ratchet up” global environmental standards? Lessons from the forest sector. Rev Eur Community Int Environ Law 16:158–172. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9388.2007.00560.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dauvergne P, Lister J (2012) Big brand sustainability: governance prospects and environmental limits. Glob Environ Change 22:36–45. doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2011.10.007

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Downs GW, Rocke DM, Barsoom PN (1996) Is the good news about compliance good news about Cooperation? Int Organ 50:379–406

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Granovetter MS (1973) The strength of weak ties. Am J Sociol 1360–1380.

  • Granovetter M (1983) The Strength of Weak Ties: A Network Theory Revisited. Sociological Theory 1:201–233.

  • Green JF (2010) Private standards in the climate regime: the greenhouse gas protocol.

  • Green JF (2013) Order out of chaos: public and private rules for managing carbon. Glob Environ Polit 13:1–25. doi:10.1162/GLEP_a_00164

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Green JF (2014) Rethinking private authority: agents and entrerpreneurs in global environmental governance. Princeton University Press, Princeton

    Google Scholar 

  • Green JF (2015) Global administrative law and the greenhouse gas protocol: the politics of standard-setting. Unpublished paper.

  • Hale T, Roger C (2014) Orchestration and transnational climate governance. Rev Int Organ 9:59–82. doi:10.1007/s11558-013-9174-0

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hoffmann MJ (2011) Climate governance at the crossroads. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Hsueh L, Prakash A (2012) Incentivizing self-regulation: federal vs. state-level voluntary programs in US climate change policies. Regul Gov 6:445–473. doi:10.1111/j.1748-5991.2012.01140.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kauffman C, Less C and Teichman D (2012) Corporate Greenhouse Gas Emission Reporting: A Stocktaking of Government Schemes. Paris: OECD. Available at http://www.oecd.org/investment/internationalinvestmentagreements/50549983.pdf. Accessed February 26 2015

  • King A, Lenox MJ (2000) Industry self-regulation without sanctions: the chemical industry’s responsible care program. Acad Manag J 43:698–716

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lenox MJ, Nash J (2003) Industry self-regulation and adverse selection: a comparison across four trade association programs. Bus Strateg Environ 12:343–356. doi:10.1002/bse.380

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Maniates MF (2001) Individualization: plant a tree, buy a bike, save the world? Glob Environ Polit 1:31–52. doi:10.1162/152638001316881395

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mattli W, Buthe T (2003) Setting international standards: technological rationality or primacy of power. World Polit 56:1–42

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nordhaus W (2015) Climate clubs: overcoming free-riding in international climate policy. Am Econ Rev 105:1339–1370. doi:10.1257/aer.15000001

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Potoski M, Prakash A (2005) Covenants with weak swords: ISO 14001 and facilities’ environmental performance. J Policy Anal Manage 24:745–769. doi:10.1002/pam.20136

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Prakash A, Potoski M (2006) The voluntary environmentalists: green clubs, ISO 14001, and voluntary environmental regulations. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Ruggie JG (2002) The theory and practice of learning networks: corporate social responsibility and the global compact. J Corp Citizsh 5:27–36

    Google Scholar 

  • Simmons BA (2001) The international politics of harmonization: the case of capital market regulation. Int Organ 55:589–620

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Stewart RB, Oppenheimer M, Rudyk B (2013) A new strategy for global climate protection. Clim Chang 120:1–12. doi:10.1007/s10584-013-0790-8

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Victor DG (2010) Climate accession deals: new strategies for taming growth of greenhouse gases in developing countries. In: Aldy JE, Stavins RN (eds) Post-Kyoto international climate policy. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 618–648

    Google Scholar 

  • Vogel D (1997) Trading up: consumer and environmental regulation in a global economy. Harvard University Press

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jessica F. Green.

Additional information

This article is part of a Special Issue on “Alternate Structures for Global Climate Action: Building Blocks Revisited ” edited by Richard B. Stewart and Bryce Rudyk.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Green, J.F. The strength of weakness: pseudo-clubs in the climate regime. Climatic Change 144, 41–52 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-015-1481-4

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-015-1481-4

Keywords

Navigation