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UNFCCC side-event and a sneak peek of Connect-It

May 16, 2017 in Conferences, News

During the first week of the UNFCCC’s preparatory meeting (SB46) in Bonn, CONNECT’s home institution, the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam,  held a side-event on “New Approaches for Analyzing and Visualizing the Integrity of the Global Climate Governance Regime”. IVM organized the event together with the University of Melbourne which included speakers from Transparency International, Griffith’s University, and the Austrian Federal Environment Agency.

IVM’s Oscar Widerberg gave a sneak peek of a new website called Connect-It that the Environmental Policy Analysis department at IVM is working on. It visualizes data on climate actions by companies, cities, regions, investors and civil society organizations, in a new and exciting way.

Stay tuned for more exciting news about Connect-It!

IVM’s Oscar Widerberg giving a presentation on visualizing non-state actors in global climate governance.

Photo credits for this blog post: IISD reporting service, ENB on the side.

Earth Negotiation Bulletin (ENB) coverage of the event can be found here: http://enb.iisd.org/climate/sb46/enbots/9may.html#event-4.

Re post: CLIMENGO SESSION AT INTERCONNECTIONS CONFERENCE (MAY 12-13, 2017)

May 16, 2017 in Uncategorized

This is a reposting from news on climengo.eu. Climengo is a project involving several of the researchers active here at fragmentation.eu. 

On the 12th and 13th of May the Interconnections Conference took place at the German Development Institute (http://interconnections2017.org/).  At the conference the interconnections between the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda were stressed, and more specifically, the role of state, non-state and subnational actors herein. The three key questions the conference addressed were the following:

  • Which linkages at the international level between the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement can foster non-state and subnational synergies and accelerate the transition towards a sustainable and climate smart future?
  • How to increase and mobilize national and local capacity, including institutional, planning, financing and statistical capacities, for non-state and subnational action that delivers on both agendas?
  • How can the role of non-state and subnational actors in implementing the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement be strengthened at the national level?

With climate change and energy being key components in the sustainable development debate, the CLIMENGO project’s research aligned very well with the Conference’s content. Therefore, the project members were excited to present five papers in a session called Energy Transition (Saturday May 13, 15:00-16:30), which was chaired by CLIMENGO’s project leader Karin Bäckstrand. First, Philipp Pattberg discussed a conceptualization of the “nexus”, applied to the climate and energy domains. Thereafter, Fariborz Zelli presented a paper written with Thijs van de Graaf about actors, institutions and frames in global energy politics. Third, Jakob Skovgaard presented a paper about carbon pricing discussing the different initiatives, performing different roles in this field. In addition, Harro van Asselt discussed interactions between international cooperative initiatives in the field of fossil fuel subsidy reform. Finally, Lisa Sanderink discussed the wide array of governance institutions in the renewable energy governance domain.

After the presentations the presenters received a few interesting questions from the audience, which led to some fruitful discussions. For example, on how to improve collaboration and division of work within the fragmented structure of the climate-energy nexus, and on the tension between global energy challenges related to sustainability and energy access. The CLIMENGO project would like to thank all hosting institutions for the well-organized event and for the opportunity to speak about CLIMENGO related topics.

Trumping Mr. Trump with bottom-up climate action

January 31, 2017 in News

The widely hailed Paris Climate Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016. Just 4 days later, Donald Trump won the presidential elections in the United States of America. Mr. Trump once said: “The concept of climate change was created by and for the Chinese, to make US-manufacturing less competitive”. For those hoping that 45th president of the US Donald Trump wouldn’t live up to this standard, think again. Shortly after the inauguration, the White House’s homepage on climate change went blank. Instead, the Trump Administration launched an ‘America First Energy Plan’ focusing on dismantling Obama’s climate legislation and exploiting the “vast untapped domestic energy reserves” (read oil, shale gas and natural gas not wind and solar power). Within a few days, Mr Trump also revived two controversial pipeline projects – the Dakota Access Pipelines and Keystone XL – deepening the fossil fuel lock-in of the US economy. His views on international climate action under the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement have ranged from full rejection to “having an open mind”. However, the appointment of Rex Tillerson – a former ExxonMobil CEO – to become Secretary of State, does not necessarily reflect an open mind. Depending on the scenario, the US could leave the UNFCCC within a year.

To be clear, the US was never keen on ambitious international climate action but the new directions are clearly a step in the wrong direction. Its sheer size in terms of greenhouse gas emissions makes the US a key player if we are to limit global warming to 2 degree Celsius. It is currently the largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions per capita, and ranking second only to China in terms of total annual GHG emissions. Hence, if the US fails to reduce its emissions, it becomes virtually impossible for the rest of the world to pick up the slack. Other policy choices by the Trump administration could also have serious repercussions for other countries’ ability to curb climate change. For instance, advisers to the administration have vowed to cancel funding for renewable energy research and even dismantling NASA’s climate change program, which could inhibit important research progress on climate change. In addition, the plans for rebuilding US infrastructure will most likely also have an impact on future emission scenarios, as we talk rather about new highways than about new railways.

A less gloomy picture, however, emerges if one looks beyond the surface of US climate policy and digs into the sub-national level. Replying to rumors that the Trump Administration would discontinue the use of existing satellites for climate research, Californian Governor Jerry Brown said that “California will launch its own damn satellites.” His state has become a shining example of what local governments and regions can do to take action beyond the federal level. California has launched its own cap-and-trade scheme starting in 2012 and before that took part in the regional Western Climate Initiative, a cooperative initiative aiming to start carbon trading in seven American states and Canadian provinces. It also has among the most stringent car emission legislations in the US, forcing car manufacturers and owners to follow the ‘California Standard’. Considering that California’s economy comes in at 6th place in the global ranking of largest economy, outperforming countries such as France and Brazil, their actions on climate change are not to be taken lightly. On the east coast of the US, another sub-national cap-and-trade program has been set-up called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) between 9 states, targeting emissions from electric power plants generating more than 25 megawatts. The RGGI states have reduced their dependence on carbon-intense energy sources such as coal and petroleum from 33 % in 2005 to 8 % in 2015. The scheme has also generated over US$ 2.4 billion in revenues.

Another source of ambitious climate action has come from cities. New York, for instance, has set a target of reducing its CO2 emissions by 80 % in 2050, and Austin in Texas even wants to reduce their emissions with 90 % by 2050. Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg has also become a front-figure for what cities can do to mitigate and adapt to climate change. His efforts have led him to become the United Nation’s first Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change.

Climate action in the US does not end with the inauguration of Mr. Trump. Thousands of local and regional initiatives set up by regions, cities, companies and other civil society groups are likely to continue their work, seeking positive side-effects and understanding the necessity of curbing climate change. A global climate governance architecture that is based on the actions of ten-thousands of organizations and millions of individuals is more resilient than an intergovernmental process that can easily be derailed by the election of just one political leader. It is up to researchers such as us to understand, inform and engage in this transition of climate governance moving from the ‘top-down’ to the ‘bottom-up’.

Philipp Pattberg & Oscar Widerberg

This piece is a reprint of an editorial featured in the newsletter of the Dutch Research School for Socio-Economic and Natural Sciences of the Environment (SENSE) in February 2017 

 

 

 

 

New publication on “Accountability Challenges in the Transnational Regime Complex for Climate Change”

December 1, 2016 in News, Publications by Martina Rigoni

This article discusses challenges to accountability in the context of transnational climate governance. It argues that the emergence of a distinct transnational regime complex and the increasingly integrated structure of international and transnational climate governance create new challenges for using established analytical frameworks that rely on accountability regimes for individual actor types. Instead, studying accountability requires a system-level conceptualization and a revisiting of accountability regimes, taking diversity and networked governance structures into account.

Link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ropr.12217/full
Available in the Publication section

Philipp writes blog on The Anthropocene and Global Environmental Governance for the Oxford Research Group

November 24, 2016 in News by Martina Rigoni

The Anthropocene denotes a new geological epoch characterized by the unprecedented impact of human activities on the Earth’s ecosystems. While the natural sciences have advanced our understanding of the drivers and processes of global change, the social sciences address the fundamental challenge of governance and politics in the Anthropocene.

Link: https://sustainablesecurity.org/2016/11/23/the-anthropocene-and-global-environmental-governance/

Side-event at COP22 on linking state and non-state climate action

November 10, 2016 in Conferences, Publications by Oscar Widerberg

In Marrakesh this year, delegates are meeting at the 22nd meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP22) to the UNFCCC to discuss the implementation of the Paris Agreement. The CONNECT project is here and have presented new work during a side-event on linking state and non-state climate actions. The following post is a blog version of a briefing paper written by Daniel Engström-Stenson and Oscar Widerberg, which reports on some of our ongoing work.

Linking state, non-state and subnational climate action: The case of Sweden

Successful international climate policy depends on domestic actors’ acceptance and actions. Cities, regions, investors, companies and civil society organizations are crucial for implementing the Paris Agreement. The proliferation of non-state climate actions is therefore a positive development, symbolizing the commitments of players outside of the UNFCCC in contributing to halting dangerous global warming at well below 2 degrees Celsius.

For example, the Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Actions (NAZCA), a data-platform launched during COP20 in Lima in 2014, show-cases over 11,600 commitments by over 5,200 different actors.[1] Linking, or at least aligning, climate actions by governments and non-state actors could generate various fruitful synergies. By signalling commitment and support for ambitious climate policy, non-state actors could instill confidence in governments to improve national mitigation and adaptation efforts. Governments can encourage, incentivize and reward non-state climate action by creating platforms for publicity and information exchange.

This brief takes a closer look at links between non-state actors and the government in Sweden. It presents new data on Swedish involvement in NAZCA showing that the country outperforms many of its peers in terms of commitments and discusses why this is the case. The brief is part of ongoing work carried out under Fores’ Reference Group for International Climate Policy. The group was initiated in advance of COP21 in Paris, bringing together business, academia and public representatives to discuss key issues in international climate policy. One of the issues that emerged during the dialogue was the role of non-state actors, the Lima Paris Action Agenda (LPAA), and the NAZCA-platform. In several workshops members have discussed the issue, and within the framework, Fores has launched one report and two policy briefs, of which this is the second.

Swedish non-state actors in NAZCA

The more than 11,000 commitments show-cased in NAZCA comes from non-state actors spread across nearly 140 countries.[2] An overwhelming majority of the actors – categorized into “cities”, “companies”, “CSOs”, “investors”, and “regions” –  are based in developed countries. Table 1 presents an overview of the 15 best represented countries in NAZCA in terms of number of actors with commitments. If we look at the distribution of countries, we find that the lion’s share – more than 770 – of the actors are situated in the US. Sweden comes in number seven, despite its substantially smaller size in terms of population and GDP compared to other developed countries. Among the top 15 countries, Sweden together with Belgium, Portugal and Italy fare highest in terms of actors per capita. [3]

blog-cop22

Over 150 swedish non-state actors contributes with nearly 340 commitments, for which cities and companies each account for around 40 % of all the commitments. Among the cities, Stockholm stands out with 15 commitments and among the companies, H&M ranks first with 11 commitments. Also Jämtland (region), Nordea Bank (investor) and the Church of Sweden (CSO) rank first within their categories.

Comparing Sweden with other Western European countries shows how Swedish non-state actors are highly engaged in the climate action, or at least in contributing to NAZCA, compared both to the total number of countries involved and compared to neighbourhood countries. Figure 2 presents the number of actors with commitment across actor-types in four countries: Sweden, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium. It shows how Sweden outperforms Belgium and Denmark on all five actor-types; the Netherlands on all but the ‘investors’ category, and Germany on ‘companies’ and ‘investors’.

blog-cop22-2

In sum, NAZCA contains a relatively high number of climate commitments by Swedish non-state actors compared to other countries. In the next sections, we discuss why this may be the case.

Explaining Sweden’s performance in NAZCA

Based on inputs from workshops held with Fores’ Reference Group for International Climate Policy, as well as interviews made with senior Swedish government officials, we suggest three possible contributing factors to Swedish actors’ good performance in NAZCA:

  1. A generally positive view among Swedish businesses to achieving a global deal in Paris;
  2. A history of companies and mun-icipalities to join domestic climate initiatives; and,
  3. The government initiative “Fossil Free Sweden”.

First, Swedish companies were generally positive and eager to see a deal made in Paris, reducing the uncertainty in the direction of global climate policy. Consequently, companies became receptive to the encouragement from French embassy in Sweden to join initiatives and take commitments   profiled on the NAZCA platform. Second, Swedish companies and cities have a tradition in joining domestic such as Hagainitiativet,[4]  Nätverket för Hållbart Näringsliv,[5] and Klimatkommunerna.[6]

These initiatives have provided a breeding ground for national dialogue and spread of knowledge and experience, including the awareness of international initiatives such as the LPAA. Third, the Swedish government have through its own multi-stakeholder initiative called “Fossil Free Sweden” encouraged companies, cities, regions and CSOs to join NAZCA. To date, nearly 200 companies, cities, regions and CSO engage in “Fossil Free Sweden”. So far, 39 members have reported its commitments to NAZCA, and another 29 are in the process of so doing.

Fossil Free Sweden (FFS), in particular, has a direct link to the LPAA and NAZCA. The aim of FFS is to provide a platform for Swedish actors to publicize their contributions to the government’s goal to become one of the world’s first fossil free welfare nations.[7] A special coordinator – the former director of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) Svante Axelsson – has been appointed by the government to foster links between the government and domestic actors, generate a dialogue between non-state actors, and compile data and analysis on the work of the national actors. Actors becoming members of the initiatives signs up to a declaration which message may be summarized as:

we are actors that acknowledge that the Paris Agreement requires action, and we believe that we as actors, as well as Sweden as a country, may play a role in moving ahead, and by making our commitments visible, we hope others will join.”

According to Sweden’s former chief negotiator to the UNFCCC Anders Turesson[8] – who is now the civil servant responsible for the FFS initiative – the motives behind forming the initiative Fossil Free Sweden are twofold. First, for Sweden to succeed in the government’s ambition of transforming Sweden into a fossil free welfare nation, it must be supported by a movement of non-state actors that are closest to the concrete action. Second, the FFS was set-up as something close to a national replica of the international movement formalized in the Lima Paris Action Agenda (LPAA). In both cases, the rationale is that a mobilization of non-state climate action have two purposes. For one, the commitments by companies, cities and regions will be crucial for Sweden, and other countries to fulfill their Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). In addition, having the support of national stakeholders is according to Turesson crucial both to be able to strengthen national measures as well as for the instruction delegations get before international negotiations.

Under the FFS, organisations are highly encouraged to register their commitments in the NAZCA platform. Compared to NAZCA, the FFS has a less bureaucratic process for registering commitments. There is no need to submit commitments – one reason for this is for the FFS to be able to attract a larger share of the business community, including the larger emitters. In the words of Anders Turesson, there is less use of an initiative that is perceived as a business committee of the green movement, although those “spearheads” can play an important role. By having a laxer view on individual commitments, the ambition is to be able to collect a larger mass of actors, to create a mobilization behind the narrative of the possibility to achieve the so far somewhat vague ambition of becoming one of the world’s first fossil free welfare nations. In the longer run, when this target is to quantified and given a timeline, actors would probably be asked to stand behind these targets.

For the FFS as well as for the NAZCA platform, a majority of the business commitments are from companies closer to consumers, with more easy accessible emission reductions. Of the more crucial Swedish industry, the vehicle manufacturers joined the FFS early, while the steel industry are still to join, with the government hoping to initiate a dialogue leading to the steel industry joining as well.

Conclusions and further research

At this early stage, we have been able to identify a few preliminary conclusions, that in most cases also are should be subject to further research.

The effectiveness of non-state actor engagement in global climate governance needs attention. The Fossil Free Sweden initiative is a clear example of how the mode of Lima Paris Action Agenda has transformed into equivalent national actions, with the aim of collecting and mobilizing action for both direct and indirect effects on emission reductions and policy formation. The ambition to create a narrative that helps to drive climate policies forward, however seems to lay on anecdotal evidence and a “feeling” that if non-state actors are being involved, they feel an ownership and becomes part of a movement that helps policy makers on different level to make more bold decisions.

The relationship between the design of institutional rules and level of enthusiasm for participati-on needs exploration. The degree of formalisation and review of commitments is an issue for the NAZCA as well as FFS. It seem to be that policy makers understands that there is a point where requirements for formal commitments becomes an obstacle for actors joining, which must be balanced against the risk of greenwashing. However, where exactly this balancing point is, remains unclear. It likely depends on the purpose of the platform – the need for formalisation and review are probably higher in a platform aiming for direct emission reductions than in a platform which main target is to help creating a narrative around an inevitable transformation to a low carbon society. Moreover, some argue that the LPAA and NAZCA needs to be formalised also in the coming UNFCCC-texts, thereby getting a more of official status.

The support mechanisms and management of non-state actor platforms are important for moving forward from the initiation phase. It is easier to initiate than to run platforms such as NAZCA and FFS. After the initial buzz, when a lot of actors join, members as well as outside actors start having expectations. If the organizers are not able to live up to, or manage, these expectations, the initial enthusiasm of members may fade out. This require resources, and what at first seemed to be a rather easy way of getting attention and show-casing ambition, may evolve into a coordination of multiple actors with different needs and wishes.

[1] Data collected from NAZCA, September 2016. Small discrepancies (< 5 % ) between the NAZCA homepage and the data presented in this brief may occur.

[2] The remained of this brief works with an adjusted data-set which removes double entries from cities participating in the “Covenant of Mayors”, a cooperative initiative for urban climate action. The adjusted total number of commitments is 9,908, the total numbers of actors or countries represented remain unchanged.

[3] The large share of actors in Italy is primarily the result of the ‘’Covenant of Mayors”, a European cooperative initiative for urban climate action, accounting for over 90 % of all the italian entries in NAZCA. For Sweden, this same number is about 30 %.

[4] http://hagainitiativet.se/en/

[5] http://www.nmc.a.se/

[6] http://www.klimatkommunerna.se/

[7]http://www.regeringen.se/rattsdokument/kommittedirektiv/2016/07/dir.-201666/

[8] Interview held 25 October 2016.

Updated report on Mapping the institutional architecture on global climate change governance

June 1, 2016 in Publications by Oscar Widerberg

We are really happy and proud to announce an updated version of last years technical report on Mapping the Institutional Architecture of Global Climate Change Governance.

Some of the highlights include:

  • 89 international and transnational institutions
  • Overview statistics for all institutions and their thematic focus, functions, year of initiation, and type
  • Description of 12,604 members to the institutions, in total, 10,750 unique entries
  • Easily accessible graphs and visualizations
  • Full explanations of how the data-collection has been carried out

You can download the report here or go to our ‘publications’ page.

Should you have any questions, comments or critique, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

New article on cooperative initatives for decarbonization

May 23, 2016 in News, Publications by Oscar Widerberg

We’re happy to share the news that a new paper by CONNECT core member Oscar Widerberg and Johannes Stripple at Lund University called ‘The expanding field of cooperative initiatives for decarbonization: a review of five databases’ has been published in WIRE’s Climate Change.

The article provides an overview of the data-availability for evaluating the performance of cooperative initiatives for decarbonization. The authors argue that “currently lack information to assess how existing initiatives perform in relation to the socio‐technical systems they are intended to intervene in, or how initiatives align, scale‐up, and form low‐carbon pathways. Given the increasingly important role and legitimacy attributed to cooperative initiatives in addressing climate change, we argue that focusing more on gathering ex post data, improving exchange between academic and policy‐oriented work, and developing assessment methods accommodating diversity in terms of function, goal, and output, are needed to understand the performance of climate governance beyond the UNFCCC.

You can access the article here.

Few places left for summer school on governing climate change

May 11, 2016 in Uncategorized by Oscar Widerberg

There are still a few places open for those interesting in applying for the Amsterdam Summer School on governing climate change. The course examines different approaches for coping with climate change, from international agreements to market-based solutions and private activities. Theory is mixed with practice through lectures, discussions, games and excursions to provide concrete examples of how the issue is being addressed at various levels and by various actors. Along the way students will meet scientists, policymakers and lobbyists all working on climate change.

For more information and how to apply, following the link: http://www.studyabroadinamsterdam.nl/en/summerschool/courses/governingclimatechange/governingclimatechange.aspx

 

Are cities coming to the rescue on climate change?

April 4, 2016 in Publications by Oscar Widerberg

We’re proud to present a new paper just published by International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economic on cities and climate change. In the paper – co-authored by Jennifer Bansard, Philipp Pattberg and Oscar Widerberg – 13 transnational city networks are scrunitized looking at how they connect, what they promise and what theire ambition levels are.

The journal is available through Open Access here.

And here’s the abstract:

Cities to the rescue? Assessing the performance of transnational municipal networks in global climate governance

Despite the proliferation and promise of subnational climate initiatives, the institutional architecture of transnational municipal networks (TMNs) is not well understood. With a view to close this research gap, the article empirically assesses the assumption that TMNs are a viable substitute for ambitious international action under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It addresses the aggregate phenomenon in terms of geographical distribution, central players, mitigation ambition and monitoring provisions. Examining thirteen networks, it finds that membership in TMNs is skewed toward Europe and North America while countries from the Global South are underrepresented; that only a minority of networks commit to quantified emission reductions and that these are not more ambitious than Parties to the UNFCCC; and finally that the monitoring provisions are fairly limited. In sum, the article shows that transnational municipal networks are not (yet) the representative, ambitious and transparent player they are thought to be.

For further questions, contact the authors of the paper.

Lively discussions on the Anthropocene (Book launch, 19 February 2016)

March 3, 2016 in News, Publications by Lisa Sanderink

On Friday the 19th of February a group of scholars gathered at IVM to attend the book launch of “Environmental Politics and Governance in the Anthropocene”, edited by Philipp Pattberg (IVM/VU) and Fariborz Zelli (Lund University). The book consists of twelve contributions trying to make sense of the Anthropocene, explore its implications for institutional design, and core questions on accountability and legitimacy. During the introduction, Philipp Pattberg and Fariborz Zelli underlined that the purpose of this event was not only to present the book to the audience, but also to create a forum for further discussing the relevance of the Anthropocene concept for environmental governance research. Aysem Mert (IVM/VU) discussed the controversy surrounding the Anthropocene and the hesitancy whether the conceptualization is needed, concluding that this book provides a scope for the reconsideration of legitimacy and accountability in environmental politics and governance. Thereafter, Sandra van der Hel (UU) explained the diversity of ideas on the Anthropocene, also beyond science in the art scene, and proposed to perceive the Anthropocene as an inspiration and opportunity for science, while not forgetting what the concept is obscuring. Oscar Widerberg (IVM/VU) took the opportunity to reflect on his own contribution to the book, explaining institutional complexity in the Anthropocene and proposing some options on how to address this complexity. Lastly, Frank Biermann (UU) reflected on the previous talks and posed a set of questions to the attendees. What are the political consequences of the conceptualization and what are the politics of the use of the term? Furthermore, what is the difference between this concept and the concept of sustainable development? More fundamentally, is the Anthropocene an epoch to celebrate or an exceptionally dangerous period for mankind? After a critical wrap up by Fariborz Zelli, an open discussion took place concluding that there are lots of questions worthy of future research.

More information on the book: https://www.routledge.com/products/9781138902398

Harnessing company climate action beyond Paris

February 17, 2016 in News, Publications by Oscar Widerberg

We’re very happy to finally publish our new report: Harnessing company climate action beyond Paris, written for the Swedish think-tank Fores. It looks at companies’ engagement in climate change and in particular in the context of the UNFCCC. We use data from the CONNECT project and the Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action (NAZCA) to explore networks and committments of companies to address climate change.

“The inability of governments to steer the global community towards a safe de-carbonization pathway has left an ‘ambition gap’ between projected emissions levels and the goal of limiting global warming to 2° Celsius. In the run-up to COP21 in Paris, the private sector and its potential to help bridge this gap have drawn considerable attention. For instance, the Lima-Paris Action Agenda (LPAA) and the Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action (NAZCA) have boosted attention, legitimacy, and research into non-state climate action by recording thousands of commitments made by cooperative initiatives comprised of hundreds of companies and investors. This report explores companies’ climate actions by surveying past studies and new data on 2,111 companies spread across 101 cooperative initiatives in the NAZCA database and the CONNECT project. Starting from the premise that non-state action should be additional to government action in order to close the ambition gap, we focus on the discrepancies between potential and actual cooperative initiative participant performance. This study illustrates how companies collaborate with one another – in addition to working with the government and civil society – which results in an intricate web of global climate governance.

We find that companies researched here is heavily skewed towards the Global North and from sectors with relatively small emissions. Key companies have a patchy track-record in achieving net GHG reductions, and information on the actual performance of companies in cooperative initiatives is scarce. In fact, available ex-post data on emissions reductions paints a somber picture in which actual mitigation levels remain far below estimated potential mitigation levels. Moreover, the impact of overlaps in participation between cooperative initiatives and the national accounts remains largely unknown. Available estimations diverge considerably. To harness the massive potential of companies taking climate action, both in terms of direct GHG emissions reductions and through indirect actions like information exchange and influencing future country pledges, our study recommends five actions:

  1. Develop common performance criteria for cooperative initiatives that accommodate the diversity of initiatives and actions, while simultaneously safeguarding the ability to tangibly assess the success/failure of reaching stated goals. Direct cuts in GHG emissions should be a criteria, however, since many cooperative initiatives do not aim to cut emissions, using a number of other output-based variables could prove interesting. To the utmost extent possible, performance criteria should be streamlined with available data registries in order to simplify and improve potential reporting procedures.
  2. Make progress reporting using common criteria compulsory for cooperative initiatives featured on homepages and publications of international organizations (e.g., NAZCA). Compulsory reporting with common criteria should be put in place in return for the substantial good-will and positive exposure provided for those companies that engage in climate change action.
  3. Carry out regular reviews of cooperative initiatives based on progress reporting and other previously developed performance criteria. This could be carried out by civil society actors, technical experts, and international organizations to assess progress towards commitments, as well as identifying leaders and laggards. Identifying success factors and challenges also enables learning and adaptation within the initiatives, possibly improving their performance.
  4. Support key players by raising awareness about front-runners and champions. A ranking of key players in cooperative initiatives – according to a number of criteria like actual progress against concrete targets and scope of engagement – could induce a race-to-the-top situation where companies would compete to be climate action champions.
  5. Provide encouragement and support for companies in developing countries to join cooperative initiatives so as to increase the involvement and ownership of companies in developing countries and their supporting governments. For this to succeed, information about cooperative initiatives and company involvement needs to become more accessible for UNFCCC member states. The LPAA could play a major role in this respect.

To summarize, we are cautiously optimistic about the increased integration of companies into the global climate change regime. Increased engagement by companies may, in the long run, help countries to over achieve or surpass their pledges, thus stimulating more ambitious pledges. Companies are key in reducing emissions. Still, one should exercise caution when expecting companies’ voluntary initiatives to close the ambition gap.”

The report has been published within the context of Fores’ Climate and Environmental Policies program and the Fores Reference Group for International Climate Policy. The reference group gathers policy makers, companies, NGOs, negotiators, and academics together to discuss the international COP climate summits, their outcomes and their relevance for the industry, policy makers and society as a whole.

Access the full report here.

Book launch: Environmental Politics and Governance in the Anthropocene

February 4, 2016 in News, Publications by Oscar Widerberg

If it is true that we have entered a new geological epoch called ‘the Anthropocene’ where humans are the dominating force of nature, what does that mean for global environmental governance? This is the central question for a new book edited by Philipp Pattberg and Fariborz Zelli. It consists of 12 contributions trying to make sense of the Anthropocene, explore its implications for institutional design, and core questions on accountability and legitimacy. During the book launch we will present and reflect on each questions together with chapter authors and distinguished scholars in the field. A sandwich lunch and tea/coffee will be provided, and there will be much room for questions and discussion from the audience.

The book launch takes place in Amsterdam and be hosted by Philipp Pattberg and Fariborz Zelli. Other invited speakers are Prof. Dr. Frank Biermann at Utrecht University, Aysem Mert and James Patterson, both at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Date:     Friday, February 19, 2016

Time:    09:45 – 13:00

Place:    C541/C543 Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) at the Faculty for Earth and Life Sciences (FALW), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. De Boelelaan 1085. 1081HV, Amsterdam

For more info on the launch, check out the flyer here.