Tallying Transnational Climate Governance

Project report examines to what extent the international regime complex contributes to combating climate change

  • News 04.10.2018

Combating climate change requires a fundamental simultaneous transformation of various sectoral systems that are key to the functioning of our economies and societies, such as energy, industry, transport, housing, and agriculture. A new report by the COP21 RIPPLES project examines sector-specific challenges to decarbonisation and what contribution international governance could make to overcoming these challenges. The report builds on the previous COP21 RIPPLES report "Key Concepts, Core Challenges and Governance Functions of International Climate Governance". It was written by Tim Rayner and Zoha Shawoo (University of East Anglia), Lukas Hermwille, Wolfgang Obergassel, Florian Mersmann, Friederike Asche, Frederic Rudolph, Oliver Lah, and Santhosh Kodukala (Wuppertal Institute), Sebastian Oberthür, Gauri Khandekar, and Tomas Wyns (Institute for European Studies at the Free University Brussels, IES-VUB), Bianka Kretschmer, Damon Jones, Mahlet Melkie and Luis Zamarioli (Climate Analytics).

While the adoption of the Paris Agreement at COP21 marked a milestone for climate policy, international climate governance is not limited to the process under United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. "There is an evolving climate regime complex consisting of other international organisations, groups of countries and non-state actors," says Lukas Hermwille, Research Fellow in the Division Energy, Transport and Climate Policy at the Wuppertal Institute. The report surveys to what extent this regime complex contributes to combating climate change.
The analysis reveals that governance activity is evident in a range of sectoral systems. Hermwille adds: “However, there is a tendency for this activity to relate to the easiest governance functions to address, such as 'learning and knowledge building', or to take place in somewhat limited 'niches'." Across all sectoral systems examined, the gap between identified governance needs and what is currently supplied is most serious in terms of the critical function of setting rules to facilitate collective action. A lack of 'guidance and signal' is also evident in several sectoral systems.

More effective mitigation action will need greater co-ordination or orchestration effort, sometimes led by the UNFCCC, but also from the bodies such as the G20, as well as existing (or potentially new) sector-level institutions. "The EU needs to re-consider what it means to provide climate leadership in an increasingly 'polycentric' governance landscape," adds Wolfgang Obergassel (Project Co-ordinator, Division Energy, Transport and Climate Policy, Wuppertal Institute).