With multilateral efforts to mitigate climate change in gridlock, attention has turned to transnational climate governance initiatives, through which sub- and non-state actors seek to reduce greenhouse gases. These initiatives include networks of cities committed to lowering their carbon footprints, voluntary corporate reduction targets and disclosure processes, and many of the rules that govern carbon markets. The paper considers the role of “traditional” actors in world politics—states and intergovernmental organizations—in orchestrating such initiatives. This strategy accounts for nearly a third of transnational climate governance initiatives, we find, and upends the conventional dichotomy between “top down” and “bottom up” solutions to global collective action problems. We develop a theory to explain when states and intergovernmental organizations are likely to engage in orchestration, and we provide initial support for this theory with a new dataset of transnational climate governance initiatives and case studies of two of the most active orchestrators, the World Bank and the United Kingdom.
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We understand transnational governance to refer to the sub-set of global governance that involves sub- and non-state actors. See, for example, Hale and Held (2011).
Abbott and Snidal argue that IOs possess three tools that may be important for orchestration: cognitive, normative and executive influence.
Unfortunately, our database does not include cases of delegation. This is because delegated governance does not usually appear in a form that we are easily able to include in this database in a consistent and comparable fashion. However, other attempts to quantify delegation over time have been undertaken, as previously discussed. Moreover, Green’s (2010) database of delegation to transnational actors suggests that it is quite a rare occurrence, albeit one that is growing progressively more frequent.
It is important to understand that these observations are not entirely independent of one another. Governance initiatives interact in complex ways. For example, some may be designed explicitly to work with other complimentary institutions, some may be the products of mergers between institutions, some may be created to compete with existing initiatives, etc. For these reasons, a database may not give as accurate a picture of the universe of cases as a network map, which would highlight the interconnections between the observations listed here. Green (2013) has provided an excellent example of such a mapping for carbon markets. We do not attempt this exercise here, but put it forward as an opportunity for future research.
A more detailed discussion of the coding rules used to identify individual schemes is available in an online appendix on the journal’s webpage.
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Hale, T., Roger, C. Orchestration and transnational climate governance. Rev Int Organ 9, 59–82 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11558-013-9174-0
- Climate policy
- Transnational governance
- International organizations
- Environmental politics