When Climate Meets Economy

How does this affect the legitimacy of international institutions?

  • News 06.07.2020

Global governance has changed fundamentally over the last two decades. After World War II, cooperation among states was organised within a few international institutions with clearly defined issue areas. Today, cross-sectoral institutional complexes are the signature feature of global governance. International cooperation on climate-related issues, for instance, is not only organised within the legal framework of the UN climate regime. Rather, international trade agreements with environmental provisions, financial market regulations, regulations of international transport and exclusive clubs like the G20 also shape international climate policy in significant ways. The example of climate change exemplifies a larger phenomenon: contemporary international institutions overlap in their regulatory claims without being governed by a central coordinating instance. Thus, they can produce negative externalities that undermine the governance objectives of other institutions (e.g., protecting the climate or liberalising trade).

The article "Let's Justify! How Regime Complexes Enhance the Normative Legitimacy of Global Governance" by Dr. Benjamin Faude (London School of Economics and Political Science) and Felix Große-Kreul, Researcher in the Research Unit Structural Change and Innovation in the Future Energy and Industry Systems Division at the Wuppertal Institute, in the journal International Studies Quarterly proposes a new analytical perspective on the legitimacy of international institutions. This perspective takes the institutional structure of contemporary global governance into account. The authors argue that individual international institutions are capable of establishing only partial orders of justification that revolve solely around their own governance objectives – like e.g. fostering international trade or safety in aviation. Institutional complexes composed of separately established international institutions with overlapping competences, by contrast, can lead to more encompassing justificatory structures that take diverging governance objectives into account. As a result, rules governing international trade, e.g., also need to be justified in regards to their impact on climate change. The authors interpret the changed institutional structure of the international order as progress which increases the normative legitimacy of global governance.

The article can be found under the link below.

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