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Transparency in multilateral climate politics: Furthering (or distracting from) accountability?: Transparency in climate politics

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Abstract

This article analyzes the interplay between transparency and accountability in multilateral climate politics. The 2015 Paris Agreement calls for a “pledge-and-review” approach to collective climate action with an “enhanced transparency framework” as a key pillar of the Agreement. By making visible who is doing what, transparency is widely assumed to be vital to holding countries to account and building trust. We explore whether transparency is generating such effects in this context, by developing and applying an analytical framework to examine the link between transparency and accountability. We find that the scope and practices of climate transparency reflect (rather than necessarily reduce) broader conflicts over who should be held to account to whom and about what, with regard to responsibility and burden sharing for ambitious climate action. We conclude that the relationship between transparency and accountability is less straightforward than assumed, and that the transformative promise of transparency needs to be reconsidered in this light.

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... As enforcement mechanisms are rare in GEG, accountability mechanisms to track national implementation and collective progress toward global goals have been favored to promote compliance with MEAs. The premise is that, by fostering transparency, accountability mechanisms can increase public pressure on states and facilitate cooperation, which in turn can enhance compliance (Gupta and van Asselt 2019;Raustiala 2000). However, despite increasing transparency, traditional state-to-state accountability mechanisms have largely failed to improve the implementation of MEAs (Gupta and van Asselt 2019;Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen et al. 2018). ...
... The premise is that, by fostering transparency, accountability mechanisms can increase public pressure on states and facilitate cooperation, which in turn can enhance compliance (Gupta and van Asselt 2019;Raustiala 2000). However, despite increasing transparency, traditional state-to-state accountability mechanisms have largely failed to improve the implementation of MEAs (Gupta and van Asselt 2019;Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen et al. 2018). This generalized crisis of public accountability in GEG has led to a proliferation of accountability mechanisms that involve corporations and civil society as well as states (Chan and Pattberg 2008;Kramarz and Park 2019). ...
... These include the lack of binding obligations to back up accountability mechanisms (Harrop and Pritchard 2011); the focus on agenda setting and shallow review of previous commitments (Morgera and Tsioumani 2010); the vague character of goals, targets, and indicators (Xu et al. 2021); the absence of global stocktaking of ambition for national implementation (Kok and Ludwig 2021); and the lack of a peer-review mechanism for regular discussion of national implementation on a country-by-country basis (Ulloa et al. 2018). In this article, I have elaborated on the argument that the availability of accountability mechanisms is not enough to foster transformative accountability dynamics (Gupta and van Asselt 2019;Kramarz and Park 2019). Conversely, I argue that constructive dialogue has potential to address implementation challenges and persuade states to fulfill their global environmental commitments, which points out the value of critical commentary and feedback, lessons learned over time, and cooperation to influence state behavior (Mashaw 2006;Raustiala 2000). ...
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Article
State-to-state accountability has greatly failed to improve compliance with multilateral environmental agreements. As this is also the case in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), this article explores how and with what effect nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) persuade states to fulfill their commitments to conserve biodiversity. The article conceptualizes accountability as learning-enabling dialogue with the potential to influence state behavior through the provision of constructive criticism. The underlying argument is that NGOs can contribute to overcoming implementation challenges by engaging in constructive dialogue with states. The triangulation of interviews with NGOs, CBD documents, and gray literature suggests that NGOs can challenge or even prevent states’ inertia by establishing critical but cooperative multilevel partnerships with states to advance implementation. Reconceptualizing accountability as constructive dialogue may contribute to realizing the transformative potential of accountability. However, more evidence is needed to understand the roles of NGOs in fostering learning and the impact of learning on improving implementation, compliance, and environmental outcomes.
... transparent (observable to third parties), accurate (a classifications of resources, whilst also highlighting the pernicious influence of wealth and power in securing fossil fuels in a range of settings: see, for example, Sovacool et al. (2020). 3 For a similar scheme, albeit further disaggregated into five categories, see Gupta and van Asselt (2019). 4 For discussion of this element, see Harrison (2015) and Steininger et al. (2016). ...
... Accordingly, they provide the normative and factual basis for holding the relevant agents to account. This brings us to element (iii), which concerns the institutions or practices by which a relevant agent is held to account (Gupta and van Asselt 2019;Newell 2008). Some international regimes include formal compliance systems. ...
... The vast scope for gaming in carbon accounting processes makes it easy for states to present themselves as taking meaningful action whilst in fact doing little to address the systemic drivers of GHG emissions (Kuch 2015;Shishlov, Morel, and Bellassen 2016;Stevenson 2021). The resulting epistemic murkiness does not appear to have built trust and confidence among participating states or resulted in increased ambition (Gupta and van Asselt 2019). 8 With the Paris Agreement's more decentralised, voluntary and heterogeneous approach to mitigation, the pursuit of accountability for carbon fluxes has only become more elusive (Keohane and Oppenheimer 2016;Weikmans, van Asselt, and Roberts 2020). ...
Article
For decades, the object of international climate governance has been greenhouse gases. The inadequacy of decarbonization based on this system has prompted calls to expand climate governance to include restrictions on fossil fuel supply. Such initiatives could rely on accountability frameworks based on fossil fuel reserves, production, or infrastructure, yet there has been little consideration of the different implications of these options. We inform such discussions by undertaking a sociotechnical analysis of existing schemes for the monitoring, reporting and verification of fossil fuels. We identify serious risks from anchoring climate governance in fossil fuel reserves. More promising directions for supply-side governance lie in accountability frameworks based on a combination of fossil fuel production volumes and infrastructure, since these are more transparent to multiple actors. This transparency would provide much-needed opportunities for democratic oversight of the data underpinning climate governance, opening new channels for holding states accountable for their climate performance.
... This was preceded by long-standing conflicts over continued differentiation of transparency obligations between developed versus developing countries (Winkler et al., 2017). India and Brazil, for example, insisted on continued differentiation, while the United States and other developed countries called for a common framework applicable to all (Gupta & van Asselt, 2019). The resulting ETF is a compromise of 'neither a bifurcated system, nor a single common framework' (Winkler et al., 2017, p. 858). ...
... Furthermore, as a result of arduous negotiations between developed and developing countries, 'flexibility' is provided to developing countriesaccording to their capacitieson some of the 'shall' reporting requirements (Gupta & van Asselt, 2019;UNFCCC, 2015;Van Asselt et al., 2016). Going forward, an axis of conflict is how to interpret and institutionalize such flexibility, and with what implications for designing capacity-building initiatives. ...
... A second, more critical view is found in the broader transparency literature. In analysing the link between transparency and accountability, Gupta and van Asselt (2019) note that countries with the lowest capacities are also those least responsible for climate change, an aspect to keep in mind when requiring transparency. Klinsky and Gupta (2019) highlight that an extensive focus on building GHG reporting capacity in developing countries risks deflecting attention away from necessary actions to be taken by the historically biggest emitters. ...
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Article
Elaborate transparency systems are now at the core of the 2015 Paris Agreement, with the assumption that this will enhance accountability, trust, and greater climate policy ambition. Much attention is now being devoted to increasing the capacity of developing countries to comply with climate transparency requirements. Contrary to viewing capacity building merely as a neutral ‘means of implementation’, our point of departure here is that capacity building has the potential to shape the nature and direction of climate transparency to be generated by countries. Key unasked questions are: What kind of transparency is facilitated through capacity-building efforts, and to further what climate policy ends? The potential steering effects of capacity building for transparency remain, in our view, largely unexamined. In addressing this research gap, we undertake a synthesis review of diverse perspectives on the ‘what, how and who’ of capacity building for transparency, as identifiable in (i) academic and grey literature; (ii) policy perspectives advanced by developed and developing countries; and (iii) emerging practices in two prominent capacity building for transparency initiatives. We draw on this three-part review to shed light on the scope and extent of climate transparency (to be) generated by developing countries in practice, with implications for the transformative potential of transparency in global climate governance. Key policy insights • Transparency about climate actions is central to the 2015 Paris Agreement. • Efforts are underway to build capacities of developing countries to comply with transparency requirements. • Rather than merely a neutral ‘means of implementation’, capacity building has the potential to influence the scope and extent of transparency generated by countries. • To date, the focus has remained on building capacities to report on GHG emissions and mitigation, notwithstanding diverse additional priorities. • There is a need for empirical analysis of capacity building’s steering effects in domestic contexts.
... By their very nature, the transparency arrangements established under the UNFCCC have always eschewed political judgment, making it harder to hold countries to account (Gupta & van Asselt, 2019). Overall, the ETF is similarly designed to avoid making any political judgment on the ambition of individual Parties in terms of climate action. ...
... 9 In the lead-up to the Paris Climate Conference, some Parties pushed for the inclusion of an ex-ante review of NDCs that would help clarify whether pledges are sufficient ( van Asselt, Saelen, & Pauw, 2015). However, the idea of such a review was integrated in the global stocktake, which is an ex-post review that focuses on collective rather than individual efforts (Gupta & van Asselt, 2019;Hermwille, Siemons, Förster, & Jeffery, 2019;Milkoreit & Haapala, 2019). ...
... CEW, 2018). Yet, whether transparency lives up to this transformative promise remains an open question (Fox, 2007;Gupta, 2010;Gupta & van Asselt, 2019;Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen et al., 2018). ...
... Differentiated transparency requirements between developed and developing country Parties in the UNFCCC have been the subject of much contestation over the years, reflecting the reality that transparency is not seen merely as a technical matter involving neutral reporting but is a site of political conflict and negotiation (Gupta & Mason, 2016;Gupta & van Asselt, 2019). In particular, developing countries have resisted calls to increase their reporting obligations, and have their climate actions subject to international oversight. ...
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Article
Transparency is increasingly central to multilateral climate governance. In this article, we undertake one of the first systematic assessments of the nature and extent of compliance with transparency requirements under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Extensive resources are now being devoted to setting up national and international transparency systems that aim to render visible what individual countries are doing with regard to climate change. It is widely assumed that such transparency is vital to securing accountability, trust and thereby also enhanced climate actions from all. Yet, whether transparency lives up to this transformative promise remains largely unexamined. We generate a first systematic overview here of the nature and extent of country engagement with and adherence to UNFCCC transparency requirements. Drawing on extensive primary documents, including national reports and technical expert assessments of these reports, we generate ‘Transparency Adherence Indices’ for developed and developing country Parties to the UNFCCC. Our results reveal wide variations in adherence to mandatory reporting requirements and no clear general pattern of improvement since 2014. Our Indices help to illustrate trends and highlight knowledge gaps around the observed adherence patterns. This is timely since the 2015 Paris Agreement calls for an ‘enhanced transparency framework’ to be implemented by 2024 that builds on existing UNFCCC transparency systems. We conclude with identifying a research and policy agenda to help explain observed patterns of adherence, and emphasize the need for continued scrutiny of assumed links between transparency and climate action. Key policy insights • The UNFCCC and its 2015 Paris Agreement call for ever greater climate transparency from all countries. • We develop ‘Transparency Adherence Indices’ that reveal frequency of engagement and adherence to reporting requirements of both developed and developing countries. • Our findings reveal high engagement in transparency arrangements by developed countries and variable engagement from developing countries. • We question what variable adherence to reporting requirements actually signifies, given how such adherence is assessed within UNFCCC technical expert reports. • Further research to explain the range of observed adherence patterns is important, in light of the Paris Agreement’s requirements for enhanced transparency from all. • The assumed link between enhanced transparency and climate action needs further analysis.
... The political implications of (the lack of) state accountability for international climate commitments have also recently been the focus of renewed attention (e.g. Gupta & Van Asselt, 2019;Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen et al., 2018Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen & McGee, 2013;Steffek, 2010). ...
... In our empirical analysis, we thus assess the kind of answerability sought and generated through these processes: i.e. whether it is a substantive, outcome-oriented answerability concerned with meeting formal commitments; or a procedurally-oriented answerability centred on facilitating learning and empowerment of participants (see also Mason, 2020). A further question is whether procedural, learning-oriented accountability generates substantive consequences, such as enhanced actions (Gupta and van Asselt, 2019;Weikmans et al., 2020). ...
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Article
Securing accountability of states for their climate actions is a continuing challenge within multilateral climate politics. This article analyses how novel, face-to-face, account-giving processes for developing countries, referred to as ‘Facilitative Sharing of Views’, are functioning within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and what these processes help to shed light on. We analyse the nature and scope of the ‘answerability’ being generated within these novel processes, including what state-to-state questioning and responses focus on, and what ‘performing’ accountability in this manner delivers within multilateral climate politics. We find that a limited number of countries actively question each other within the FSV process, with a primary focus on sharing information about the technical and institutional challenges of establishing domestic ‘measuring, reporting and verification’ systems and, to lesser extent, mitigation actions. Less attention is given to reporting on support. A key aim is to facilitate learning, both from the process and from each other. Much effort is expended on legitimizing the FSV process in anticipation of its continuation in adapted form under the 2015 Paris Agreement. We conclude by considering implications of our analysis. Key policy insights • We analyse developing country engagement in novel face-to-face account-giving processes under the UNFCCC • Analysis of four sessions of the ‘Facilitative Sharing of Views’ reveals a focus on horizontal peer-to-peer learning • States question each other more on GHG emission inventories and domestic MRV systems and less on mitigation and support • We find that limited time and capacity to engage, one-off questioning rather than a dialogue, and lack of recommended follow-up actions risks generating ‘ritualistic’ answerability • Such account-giving also intentionally sidesteps contentious issues such as responsibility for ambitious and fair climate action but may still help to build trust • Much effort is expended on ‘naming and praising’ participant countries and legitimizing the process
... By their very nature, the transparency arrangements established under the UNFCCC have always eschewed political judgment, making it harder to hold countries to account (Gupta & van Asselt, 2019). Overall, the ETF is similarly designed to avoid making any political judgment on the ambition of individual Parties in terms of climate action. ...
... 9 In the lead-up to the Paris Climate Conference, some Parties pushed for the inclusion of an ex-ante review of NDCs that would help clarify whether pledges are sufficient (van Asselt, Saelen, & Pauw, 2015). However, the idea of such a review was integrated in the global stocktake, which is an ex-post review that focuses on collective rather than individual efforts (Gupta & van Asselt, 2019;Hermwille, Siemons, Förster, & Jeffery, 2019;Milkoreit & Haapala, 2019). ...
Article
How will the Paris Agreement drive countries to address climate change? One expectation of the Agreement is that transparency will stimulate countries to increase the ambition of their pledges by revealing information on Parties’ climate efforts. To this end, the Agreement introduced a new ‘enhanced transparency framework’ (ETF) to report and review information on Parties’ greenhouse gas emissions, progress made in implementing and achieving nationally determined contributions (NDCs), their adaptation actions, and the financial, technological and capacity-building support needed, received and provided to developing country Parties. However, this relationship between transparency and progressive ambition over time remains largely untested. In this article, we first outline several pathways through which increased transparency could potentially lead to increased ambition. These pathways notably depend on the availability of comparable, complete and timely information on the performance of Parties. By reviewing the experience with past and existing transparency arrangements, we identify four types of challenges that will likely pose barriers to the generation of such information by the ETF, and suggest some efforts that might address these challenges to support greater ambition in future rounds of NDCs.
... In general, a lack of transparency and oversight is thought to exacerbate moral hazard in agency relationships (Jensen and Meckling 1976). On the other hand, Gupta and Van Asselt (2019) have found that in the context of multilateral climate politics, the level of transparency may 'reflect (rather than necessarily reduce) broader conflicts over who should be held to account to whom and about what' (p. 18). ...
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This book showcases a multidisciplinary set of work on the impact of regulatory innovation on the scale and nature of tax evasion, tax avoidance, and money laundering. We consider the international tax environment an ecosystem undergoing a period of rapid change as shocks such as the financial crisis, new business forms, scandals and novel regulatory instruments impact upon it. This ecosystem evolves as jurisdictions, taxpayers, and experts react. Our analysis focuses mainly on Europe and five new regulations: Automatic Exchange of Information, which requires that accounts held by foreigners are reported to authorities in the account holder’s country of residence; the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting initiative and Country by Country Reporting, which attempt to reduce the opportunity spaces in which corporations can limit tax payments and utilize low or no tax jurisdictions; the Legal Entity Identifier which provides a 20-digit identification code for all individual, corporate or government entities conducting financial transactions; and the Fourth and Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directives, that criminalize tax crimes and prescribe that the Ultimate Beneficial Owner of a company is registered. Working from accounting, economic, political science, and legal perspectives, the analysis in this book provides an assessment of the reforms and policy recommendations that will reinforce the international tax system. The collection also flags the dangers posed by emerging tax loopholes provided by new business models and in the form of freeports and golden passports. Our central message is that inequality can and has to be reduced substantially, and we can achieve this through an improved international tax system.
... International institutions may enhance the transparency of their members' actions by collecting and analyzing relevant data, and identify and hold parties to account for any implementation deficits (Ciplet et al., 2018;Gupta & van Asselt, 2019;Park & Kramarz, 2019). Now that the "Paris rulebook" has been completed, the COP could promote implementation by devoting more attention to its transparency and accountability function. ...
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The gap between the internationally agreed climate objectives and tangible emissions reductions looms large. We explore how the supreme decision‐making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Conference of the Parties (COP), could develop to promote more effective climate policy. We argue that promoting implementation of climate action could benefit from focusing more on individual sectoral systems, particularly for mitigation. We consider five key governance functions of international institutions to discuss how the COP and the sessions it convenes could advance implementation of the Paris Agreement: guidance and signal, rules and standards, transparency and accountability, means of implementation, and knowledge and learning. In addition, we consider the role of the COP and its sessions as mega‐events of global climate policy. We identify opportunities for promoting sectoral climate action across all five governance functions and for both the COP as a formal body and the COP sessions as conducive events. Harnessing these opportunities would require stronger involvement of national ministries in addition to the ministries of foreign affairs and environment that traditionally run the COP process, as well as stronger involvement of non‐Party stakeholders within formal COP processes. This article is categorized under: Policy and Governance > International Policy Framework
... In this regard Gupta and Van Asselt proposed a progressive model of accountability exploring two basic themes of accountability i.e. answerability and enforceability. 11 It have been further explored by dividing it into five elements constituting relations, standards, judgements, sanctions and redress. 12 The first three elements can be used to gauge the level of answerability and the remaining two to gauge enforceability in any system of accountability. ...
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Article
An Intergovernmental Working Group is established by the Human Rights Council to adopt a treaty on Business and Human Rights. According to the draft treaty the enforcement mechanism relies on a treaty body working through a reporting-based mechanism. In this article the enforcement mechanism of the treaty is analysed through the progressive model of accountability presented by Gupta and Van Asselt. It also takes further the analysis based on the progressive model by Nadia Bernaz of the enforceability measures adopted within the treaty. The enforceability of the treaty is further discussed in this article and a relative enforcement mechanism is proposed. The proposal includes structural changes within the treaty body and inclusion of the role of non-state entities for more efficient enforcement.
... Transparency and review mechanisms are expected to build trust among states, contribute to policy learning and exert pressure on laggards through 'naming and shaming'. Their capacity to do so, however, is often assumed rather than being empirically observed (Gupta & Van Asselt 2019). Analyses of how reporting and assessment exercises unfold in practice are therefore critical. ...
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Chapter
The working paper examines the UN climate conference (COP26) organised in Glasgow in November 2021 as a transnational mega-event, which constituted not only an important moment in international climate talks, but also a temporary convergence point for a multitude of actors and an arena for conflicts and contestation over framing within a broader global policy space. This perspective allows us to offer a view of the current state of global climate politics more comprehensive than those of analyses focused mainly on the negotiations. Using collaborative event ethnography, over two weeks eight researchers identified the material, spatial and social dimensions of the conference. We identify three circles of climate governance, which framed practices, interactions and debates in Glasgow. These comprise an inner circle of state-led negotiations (‘The In’), an official side programme (‘The Off’) and a relatively heterogeneous wider environment of self-organised events (‘The Fringe’). Each circle is populated by a different set of actors and enacts a distinct representation of ‘the global’. Our analysis of dynamics within each of these circles shows that climate governance has entered a new and contradictory phase, where some boundaries are blurred while others are reaffirmed, and where old conflicts resurface while new dividing lines appear. The Paris architecture for reporting and review has been finalised, but thus far the new approach has failed to close gaps between pledges and objectives for mitigation and climate finance. Global political and corporate elites have seemingly come to acknowledge the climate emergency and the need for a global low-carbon transformation, but the solutions proposed in Glasgow remained partial and fragile, and tightly contained within the dominant horizon of capitalist market- and techno-fixes. The communication strategy of the UNFCCC and the UK Presidency used increasingly radical terms to convey urgency and momentum, which in turn risked emptying activist notions of their content and force. A growing part of the climate movement reacted with critiques of corporate takeover and calls for “real zero” instead of “net zero”. In the conclusion, we examine a series of contentious issues and provide avenues for reflection on the future of climate governance.
... Governance by disclosure has become a popular mechanism for catalyzing action and keeping countries accountable to their peers and their constituents. Although there are no 'hard' sanctions for not fulfilling commitments made, disclosure mechanisms aim at raising ambitions and enhancing accountability through informal praising and shaming of government efforts as information on their performance becomes accessible to other state and non-state actors (Gupta and van Asselt, 2019;Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen et al., 2018;Weikmans et al., 2020). While recognizing the varying capacities among countries, the Paris Agreement requires countries to submit Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to communicate their ambitions for climate action and regularly report on progress and achievements through the Enhanced Transparency Framework (ETF). ...
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Article
The Paris Agreement encourages countries to monitor and regularly report on progress in responding to the impacts of climate change. So far, discussions on adaptation tracking have focused on the technocratic reasons for limited progress on adaptation tracking, for example, financial, methodological, and technical capacity gaps. Substantial variation exists in the institutional context within which adaptation takes place and is being tracked. Yet, recent discussions overlook the importance of the extent to which new systems of adaptation tracking fit within the prevailing rules and practices of knowledge production and use. Although such fit-for-context has been considered important in other fields, no adequate frameworks exist to operationalize it within adaptation tracking. We develop a six-dimensional framework for analyzing institutional structure as the first step towards alignment in the design and use of adaptation tracking: 1) stakeholder participation, 2) transparency, 3) bureaucratic accountability, 4) engagement with experts, 5) politico-administrative relations, and 6) coordination within the administration. For each dimension, we synthesize academic literature, provide variables for operationalization, and provide examples drawn from various regions. The resulting framework allows the description of the institutional structures of knowledge production and use and supports the context-specific design of new programs, tools, and practices for tracking adaptation progress.
... To examine this issue, we develop a conceptual framework showing how input and throughput legitimacywhat we call procedural legitimacymay relate to the (output) effectiveness of policies (Karlsson--Vinkhuyzen and McGee 2013; Gupta and van Asselt, 2019). Specifically, we identify how different dimensions of procedural legitimacy shape included actors' perceptions about both the legitimacy of the process and the potential effectiveness of joint-action. ...
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Article
How do governance arrangements affect perceptions of legitimacy and effectiveness amongst non-state actors? This is a pertinent question as the roles of non-state actors have been strengthened in global climate governance. In this paper, we focus on how actors involved in climate governance processes perceive trade-offs and specific factors that risk undermining legitimacy and potential effectiveness of those arrangements. We argue that different rules of procedural legitimacy generate sociological views about whether an institution or its policies will be effective and, in turn, are ‘worthy of support’. To establish this, we engage in an analysis of how nonstate actors have been engaged in the UNFCCC, pre- and post-Paris. We find that efforts to deepen engagement is generating contestation between actors, not fostering collaboration. Focusing on how actors view procedural rules and their potentialities for effective outcomes sheds light on support for those institutions and the development of effective policies.
... A seemingly simple relationship between transparency and accountability becomes further complicated by systems of transparency becoming sites of political conflict and negotiation over who bears responsibility for taking what action, and who should thus be held accountable to whom for what (Gupta and van Asselt, 2019). Furthermore, looking beyond the nation state, there are additional challenges in operationalizing accountability, as responsibility for taking action is increasingly diffuse and operates at multiple scales. ...
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This article interrogates the assumed promises and perils of climate cryptogovernance or deployment of cryptographic technology (i.e., blockchain) within climate governance. We distill how climate cryptogovernance is being discussed by influential climate policy actors, and the implications for reinforcing or challenging how climate governance currently occurs. Specifically, through discourse analysis, we explore how blockchain technology is presented in the communications of international organisations and multistakeholder initiatives in the climate policy space. We identify a dominant storyline being advanced that views blockchain as an enabler of ambitious climate action, through its potential to enhance the reliability, transparency, accountability, and democratic quality of climate governance. We critically interrogate each of these component elements of the dominant storyline, arguing that, taken as a whole, they tend to privilege a technocratic, market-oriented approach to climate governance. We conclude by reflecting on whether this risks reinforcing a problematic ‘post-political’ turn in environmental governance in the future.
... Accountability involves assignment of responsibility for addressing climate change through adaptation and ensuring that the intended goals of adaptation finance are achieved and that local impact happens. 9 The work of the Taskforce in the run up to, and after, COP26 represents the beginning of a long process that must culminate in improved access to climate finance by countries and actors in the Global South and ultimately local adaptation mechanisms being in place to deal with the climate emergency. However, the focus on the financing and functioning of the GCF also presents an opportunity for actors globally to demand that the GCF demonstrates increased transparency and accountability. ...
... However, the relationship between transparency, accountability, and regime effectiveness is often more assumed than empirically scruti-nized Mason, 2020). How the different elements of the "accountability continuum" of the Paris Agreement (Voigt and Gao, 2020) are further operationalized and implemented in practice is therefore key (Gupta and Van Asselt, 2019). In this regard, the "small" assessment and review cycle conducted in 2018-2020 was unsatisfactory. ...
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Book
In the annual Hamburg Climate Futures Outlook, CLICCS researchers make the first systematic attempt to assess which climate futures are plausible, by combining multidisciplinary assessments of plausibility. The inaugural 2021 Hamburg Climate Futures Outlook addresses the question: Is it plausible that the world will reach deep decarbonization by 2050?
... 1 Institutions' secretariats may either themselves collect relevant data or receive reports from individual parties. On this basis, the institution may engage in a review of the quality and comparability of submitted data and of parties' implementation (Gupta and van Asselt, 2019). The effort required may depend on the activities regulated. ...
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This article develops a sectoral approach to the analysis of global climate governance. This approach advances the assessment of global climate governance by focusing on complexes of intergovernmental and transnational institutions co-governing key socio-technical sectoral systems. The actual and potential contribution of these sectoral institutional complexes to advancing decarbonization can be assessed according to five key governance functions: (1) providing guidance and signal to actors, (2) setting rules to facilitate collective action, (3) enhancing transparency and accountability, (4) offering support (finance, technology, capacity-building), and (5) promoting knowledge and learning. On this basis, we can assess the potential of international cooperation to address the challenges specific sectoral systems face in the climate transition as well as the extent to which existing sectoral institutional complexes deliver on this potential. This provides a solid starting point for developing options for filling identified gaps and enhancing the effectiveness of global climate governance.
... This entailed maintenance, in their view of the pre-Paris differentiated transparency systems in place, wherein developing countries had to comply with less stringent and less regular reporting and review obligations. Yet the 2015 Paris Agreement agreed to move towards an 'enhanced transparency framework applicable to all', with some flexibility built in, but based on differing capacities to participate in more stringent transparency arrangements (Gupta and van Asselt 2017). ...
Chapter
Equity has remained a deeply contested concept in multilateral climate politics ever since the Brundtland Commission report, with academic debate and geopolitical conflict alike focusing on how to conceptualize the principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities’ (CBDR-RC) of industrialized and developing countries in combating climate change, enshrined within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The focus here is on scrutinizing equity-in-practice, i.e. how equity is being operationalized within multilateral climate governance. The authors trace how the two component elements of the CBDR-RC principle (‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ and ‘respective capabilities’) are being operationalized within the obligations and institutional arrangements relating to mitigation and adaptation within the UNFCCC. The focus of equity is shifting away from the ‘responsibility’ component to that of ‘capabilities’ (with capabilities reduced, furthermore, to a technical notion of capacity building). Equity-in-practice is thus increasingly coming to be equated, within the UNFCCC, with capacity building. The authors discuss whether such a taming of equity is also discernible in newer developments, such as negotiating the rule-book for the enhanced transparency framework of the 2015 Paris Agreement, and debating the role within climate policy of climate engineering technologies. The authors draw out the implications of this analysis for the prospects of UN-led multilateralism to deliver on climate equity in the pursuit of sustainable development.
... Second, there is no clarity as to who is accountable to whom. Principal-agent models of public accountability become fuzzy in the international sphere and when actions take place across legal and political borders (Mason, 2008;Gupta and Van Asselt, 2019). There is some degree of market accountability, where producers and traders may be accountable to their consumers for causing environmental impacts abroad, but this arguably falls short of what is needed (see Bäckstrand, 2008). ...
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The destruction of the Amazon is a major global environmental issue, not only because of greenhouse gas emissions or direct impacts on biodiversity and livelihoods, but also due to the forest's role as a tipping element in the Earth System. With nearly a fifth of the Amazon already lost, there are already signs of an imminent forest dieback process that risks transforming much of the rainforest into a drier ecosystem, with climatic implications across the globe. There is a large body of literature on the underlying drivers of Amazon deforestation. However, insufficient attention has been paid to the behavioral and institutional microfoundations of change. Fundamental issues concerning cooperation, as well as the mechanisms facilitating or hampering such actions, can play a much more central role in attempts to unravel and address Amazon deforestation. We thus present the issue of preventing the Amazon biome from crossing a biophysical tipping point as a large-scale collective action problem. Drawing from collective action theory, we apply a novel analytical framework on Amazon conservation, identifying six variables that synthesize relevant collective action stressors and facilitators: information, accountability, harmony of interests, horizontal trust, knowledge about consequences, and sense of responsibility. Drawing upon literature and data, we assess Amazon deforestation and conservation through our heuristic lens, showing that while growing transparency has made information availability a collective action facilitator, lack of accountability, distrust among actors, and little sense of responsibility for halting deforestation remain key stressors. We finalize by discussing interventions that can help break the gridlock.
... In general, a lack of transparency and oversight is thought to exacerbate moral hazard in agency relationships (Jensen and Meckling 1976). On the other hand, Gupta and Van Asselt (2019) have found that in the context of multilateral climate politics, the level of transparency may 'reflect (rather than necessarily reduce) broader conflicts over who should be held to account to whom and about what' (p. 18). ...
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Chapter
This chapter explores the situations in which tax experts are most likely to take an innovative or aggressive tax position, focusing on the self-perception of the experts themselves of the factors that may influence them in taking such a position. The results highlight the micro-influences on tax experts that may move them along the spectrum of tax avoidance, which has been acknowledged as posing a significant risk to public welfare, equality of opportunity, and the common good. The chapter presents findings from an international survey of tax professionals and experts and highlights some key risk factors. The factors that lead tax experts to take a position that pushes the envelope of regulation are explored in aggregate and compared across the jurisdictional boundary of high or low levels of financial secrecy. The findings have the potential to empower both regulators and professional bodies in addressing the problem of tax avoidance.
... International institutions may enhance the transparency of their members' actions by collecting and analysing relevant data, and identify and hold Parties to account for any implementation deficits (Gupta and van Asselt, 2019). To support international co-ordination on sectoral targets and policies as suggested in the previous section, countries would need to agree on requirements to provide sectorally differentiated accounts of national emissions, measures taken and their impacts. ...
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This article aims to analyse the potential for international climate governance to promote the decarbonisation of land transport. It first summarises challenges and barriers that impede the transformation of the sector. On this basis, the article discusses how international governance could potentially assist with overcoming these barriers and mobilising potentials. Subsequently, the article analyses to what extent existing international governance institutions deliver on the potential identified. The analysis finds that while there is a large number of international institutions trying to promote the decarbonisation of land transport, none of them emerge saliently as hubs or core institutions. There is a substantial amount of activity to generate and disseminate knowledge and learning, but the potential for providing guidance and signal, setting rules, providing transparency/accountability and means of implementation could be further exploited. The article concludes with suggestions on how international governance may be strengthened.
... Second, there is no clarity as to who is accountable to whom. Principal-agent models of public accountability become fuzzy in the international sphere and when actions take place across legal and political borders (Mason, 2008;Gupta and van Asselt, 2019). There is a level of market accountability, whereby producers and traders may be accountable to their consumers for causing environmental impacts, but this arguably falls short of what is needed (see Bäckstrand, 2008). ...
... Data on implementation may be collected by treaty secretariats or be submitted by the Parties themselves. Subsequently, the institution may review the data and substantive implementation (Gupta & van Asselt, 2019). Finally, international agreements may provide for compliance procedures to hold Parties to account for any identified implementation deficits. ...
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Article
The impacts of the COVID-19 crisis and the global response to it will co-determine the future of climate policy. The recovery packages responding to the impacts of the pandemic may either help to chart a new sustainable course, or they will further cement existing high-emission pathways and thwart the achievement of the Paris Agreement objectives. This article discusses how international climate governance may help align the recovery packages with the climate agenda. For this purpose, the article investigates five key governance functions through which international institutions may contribute: send guidance and signals, establish rules and standards, provide transparency and accountability, organize the provision of means of implementation, and promote collective learning. Reflecting on these functions, the article finds that the process under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), together with other international institutions, could promote sustainable recovery in several ways. Key policy insights: The incoming UK presidency of the Conference of the Parties (COP) should urge Parties to present transformative sustainable stimulus packages alongside more ambitious nationally determined contributions (NDCs) at the postponed Glasgow Climate Conference (COP 26). Specific principles and criteria for sustainable recovery should be adopted. A coalition of interested governments should work through institutions such as G20 to enable swift action even before COP 26. The Glasgow Conference should establish a process to review the consistency of recovery packages with the Paris Agreement and their implementation, to support their sustainability and promote policy learning. Developed countries and international financial institutions should renew their climate finance commitments, and work towards an increased long-term finance objective in the context of greening recovery packages. At COP 26 governments could take stock of the ‘Paris-compatibility’ of international recovery support and adopt further guidance as necessary.
... A patchwork of national legislation and global treaties/ framework agreements (most notably on climate change) address only some of the challenges, but only in part and some global agreements and agencies (like the IMF and WTO) do not operate in ways that reduce inequality (Delgado, 2019;Hickel, 2017). Research suggests the Kyoto and Paris climate reduction targets have reduced carbon emissions, though the complicated criteria offer some 'wriggle-room' and some countries have threatened if not actually reneged on commitments (Shishlov et al., 2016;Gupta and van Asselt, 2019). Without effective auditing, interest groups will defeat standards and compliance weaknesses will have cascading effects on confidence in them. ...
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Article
Human civilisation faces a series of existential threats from the combination of five global and human-engineered challenges, namely climate change, resource depletion, environmental degradation, overpopulation and rising social inequality. These challenges are arguably being manifested in both an increased likelihood and magnified impact of catastrophes like forest fires, prolonged droughts, pandemics and social dislocation/upheaval. This article argues that in understanding and addressing these challenges, important lessons can be drawn from what has repeatedly caused organisational failures. It applies the ‘Ten Pathways to Disaster’ model to a series of disasters/catastrophic events and then argues this model is salient to understanding inadequate responses to the five threats to civilisation. The article argues that because these challenges interact in mutually reinforcing ways, it is critical to address them simultaneously not in isolation. JEL Codes: H12, I14, I31, J11, Q01
... A basic level of transparency is required to adopt common rules and targets in the first place. But first and foremost, transparency and accountability are required to build and maintain trust among the members (Mitchell, 1998) and to support implementation (Gupta & van Asselt, 2019). ...
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Technical Report
While the COVID-19 pandemic has cast normal policy making including global climate policy into disarray, it also demonstrates that governments are able to take far- reaching action on short notice. How the global response to the Corona crisis is shaped will be a key determinant for the future of climate policy. This paper discusses how the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process may help align economic recovery packages with the climate agenda. For this purpose, this paper draws on the concept of governance functions which international institutions may perform: international institutions may send guidance and signals, they may establish rules and standards, they may provide transparency and accountability, they may organise the provision of means of implementation, and they may promote collective learning. Reflecting on these functions, the paper finds that the UNFCCC process could promote green recovery in several ways. The paper proposes the several specific lines of action.
... Transparent reporting and monitoring can support and help reinforce rules, targets and/or standards collectively agreed as outlined above (Mitchell, 1998; also see Gupta and van Asselt, 2019). What needs monitoring and by whom, of course, depends on the specific rules, targets or standards agreed. ...
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Article
Fully decarbonising global power supply is essential to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement. A wide range of inter- and transnational governance institutions exist that work towards the transformation of the power sector. But are these governance efforts sufficient to address the challenges? To address this question the article first identifies governance needs on the basis of systemic sector-specific transformation challenges and discusses the potential for international governance to address them. Second, the paper surveys existing inter- and transnational institutions and assess to what extent they exploit the potential of international governance. The analysis shows that many of the governance needs are already being satisfied to some extent, particularly with respect to the deployment of renewable energy. It also shows that a significant blind spot remains: the phase-out of fossil fuels for electricity generation. The detailed analysis enables us to identify options for enhancing the governance landscape.
... The extension of the accountability theme to include legitimacy enabled the project to encompass a broader range of concerns relevant to democracy, including the inclusion of affected interests in decision-making, the quality of deliberative processes, and the transmission of citizens' concerns to authoritative institutions (Biermann and GUPta, 2011). Nevertheless, for the reasons set out above, it is timely for the project to engage more directly and explicitly with democracy, even as it continues to address still pressing questions around sources and mechanisms of accountability, including calls for ever more transparency (GUPta 2010;GUPta and mason, 2014;GUPta and van asselt, 2017;kramarz and Park, 2016). ...
... So far, the premise of the Paris Agreement that naming and shaming would ignite action has yet to materialize. The transparency framework of the Paris Agreement alone is unlikely to ratchet up action and overcome political unwillingness among countries to increase ambition (Gupta & van Asselt, 2019;Weikmans, van Asselt, & Roberts, 2019). The Global Stocktake, a collective assessment of the progress in meeting the Paris Agreement goals, will first be tested only in 2023 and it remains to be seen whether this will create the additional pressure needed to tip the balance in favour of truly ambitious greenhouse gas targets by countries. ...
... A second overarching conclusion is that long-assumed close links between greater transparency and enhanced accountability, informed participation, democratic deliberation, but also enhanced trust, continue to need more detailed scrutiny. With regard to accountability, a growing number of analyses are now closely studying this relationship (Fox 2007;Hood, 2010;Gupta & van Asselt, 2019;Mason, 2020, this section). A relationship that still remains understudied in the sustainability realm, however, relates to transparency and trust. ...
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Article
Transparency in environmental governance is no longer an uncontroversial answer to problems of accountability and effectiveness. How to design effective transparency systems and in what policy contexts they are effective remain contested issues. This special section, consisting of this introduction and four research articles, interrogates complex and potentially conflicting links between transparency, accountability, empowerment and effectiveness in environmental governance. Building on existing literature and the four contributions, we discuss persisting diversity in varieties of transparency, the evolving dynamics of commodity chain transparency, and the consequences of emerging novel forms of digitalized transparency. As we show, the contributions to this special section interrogate in novel ways the transformative potential of transparency, through shedding light on the performative effects of transparency in ever more complex environmental governance contexts. These contexts may include, inter alia, the growing ubiquity of traceability in transnational commodity chains, the need for ever more anticipatory (ex-ante) forms of environmental governance, and an ever-broadening quest for digitally monitored environments. In particular, the impacts of the real-time ‘radical’ transparency engendered by use of novel digital technologies remain under-analyzed in the sustainability domain. We conclude by raising several critical concerns that deserve further scientific research and policy debate.
... The connections, for example, between mobile devices and transparency within climate mitigation mechanisms under the UNFCCC, such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), are not well specified in the literature. Despite high interest from multilateral institutions on the possibilities for using mobile devices to ensure the transparency of REDD+, the specifics of what is recorded, how this is done, and whom it benefits are still unclear (Gupta and van Asselt 2017;Vijge 2018;Widerberg and Pattberg 2017). While transparency is normatively seen as the influence that actors have on project design and implementation, currently transparency is largely farmed in substantive terms of effectiveness, output legitimacy, and information and disclosure; we begin here to describe how this plays out in relation to REDD+ and ICTs. ...
Article
Transparency in climate finance mechanisms, such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), relies on the transfer of information within a complex global web of state and nonstate actors. Such information is required under internationally agreed REDD+ safeguards, including measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) processes and free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC), and works to establish substantive and normative transparency. However, the sources of, access to, and outcomes from these information flows are still contentious. To address these problems, REDD+ project proponents are increasingly looking to information and communication technologies, such as mobile devices, to improve information gathering, processing, and access. In this article we develop a model and provides tentative examples of how normative and substantive transparency are connected through input and output legitimacy within broader governance contexts. We highlight that even though mobile devices are being used to bring forest communities into the REDD+ process, substantive transparency for emissions reductions through MRV tends to be prioritized over normative dimensions associated with FPIC. We conclude by highlighting the need to further understand the role of decentralized information flows in multilevel carbon governance and opportunities for how mobile technologies may be used to address transparency challenges in the governance of REDD+.
... Alternatively, accounting scholars could build on Skilling and Tregidga (2019) to investigate how organisations justify inequalities. As inequality also impacts bio-diversity (Holland et al., 2009) and negotiations on multilateral environmental agreements (Gupta and Asselt, 2019) impacts of inequality also fall squarely into the domain of accounting for the environment. ...
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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to encourage and advance interdisciplinary accounting research on economic inequality. Design/methodology/approach: The authors review prior research into economic inequality, including two new papers in this issue, to identify topics where economic inequality and accounting research intersect. The authors then draw on prior accounting research to identify frameworks accounting scholars already use apposite to analysing these topics. Findings: Economic inequality cuts across major accounting topics, including measurement, reporting and tax. Inequality also bears on an influential agenda in interdisciplinary accounting research to hold corporations and states accountable for their impacts. Four prior research frameworks accounting scholars might apply to this agenda are: critical Marxian or post-Marxian; accounting ethics; advocacy; and disclosure studies. Social implications: A growing body of social scientific research, as well as influential global institutions, social movements and political debates, raise concerns over inequitable global distributions of wealth and income. The authors explore ways accounting scholars can help redress these inequities. Originality/value: While economic inequality affects billions of people, accounting scholarship is yet to give these inequities the attention their scale and social impact merits. The authors suggest ways accounting researchers can make substantive contributions to addressing this issue.
... 20 However, while the idea of such a review was integrated in the Paris Agreement's global stocktake (see Article 14.1), it focuses on collective rather than individual efforts. 21 In this section, we identify several other challenges for climate transparency linked to the two main elements (reporting and review) of the ETF. ...
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Technical Report
Are we doing enough to address climate change? Are countries living up to their promises? Are some doing better than they pledged? Transparency is key for answering these questions. This ecbi Pocket Guide traces the evolution of transparency arrangements under the UNFCCC right up to the transparency framework under the Paris Agreement. It addresses both transparency of action and of support, and suggests ways to strengthen both these important elements of the global climate regime.
... As at 30 July 2017 -more than two years after the 2014 deadline -only 37 non-Annex I Parties had submitted their first BUR. These figures show that non-Annex I Parties are confronted with a variety of challenges in their reporting to the UNFCCC Secretariat (Ellis & Moarif, 2015;Gupta & van Asselt, 2017). These challenges may be related to capacity constraints, including the lack of established domestic reporting systems. ...
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Research
In this policy brief we try to understand whether or not the blurry image of climate finance received can be explained by the lack of compliance of developing country Parties toward transparency requirements agreed under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). We show that the lack of compliance is not the only reason for concern. Inadequate transparency requirements decided under the UNFCCC are also to blame. What are the most important challenges that need to be addressed? Will the Paris ‘enhanced transparency framework’ help address them? We discuss these issues in the last part of this brief, along with some policy recommendations for the Belgian Development Cooperation.
... The G20 and APEC have followed their commitments up with peer reviews of the fossil fuel subsidies handed out by several countries (Aldy 2017). 4 But the UNFCCC, like most other multilateral environmental agreements, also incorporates a reporting and review process that aims to increase the transparency of countries' performance ( Gupta and van Asselt 2017). Although the transparency arrangements of the UNFCCC are in flux following the adoption of the Paris Agreement, existing rules offer space for countries to shed light on both the levels of their fossil fuel subsidies and their efforts to reform them (Benninghoff 2013), and future rules may similarly provide sufficient leeway for countries to do so. ...
Chapter
The Politics of Fossil Fuel Subsidies and their Reform - edited by Jakob Skovgaard August 2018
... But when so little is being monitored, an entirely different scenario which resembles some of the characteristics of more monocentric governance may come to pass, i.e. disputes over technical matters such as causality may spiral, and governors could squabble over the attribution and the double counting of emissions arising from state and non-state governance (Widerberg and Pattberg, 2017: 84). Monitoring may thus mirror ongoing contestations about accountability, rather than overcoming them (Gupta and van Asselt, 2017;see also Chapter 19). If this happens, the bottom-up architecture of the Paris Agreement will struggle to generate more trust and emissions reductions could falter, making the more radical technological alternatives (climate engineering) appear even more attractive (Chapter 16). ...
Chapter
Climate change governance is in a state of enormous flux. New and more dynamic forms of governing are appearing around the international climate regime centred on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). They appear to be emerging spontaneously from the bottom up, producing a more dispersed pattern of governing, which Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom famously described as 'polycentric'. This book brings together contributions from some of the world's foremost experts to provide the first systematic test of the ability of polycentric thinking to explain and enhance societal attempts to govern climate change. It is ideal for researchers in public policy, international relations, environmental science, environmental management, politics, law and public administration. It will also be useful on advanced courses in climate policy and governance, and for practitioners seeking incisive summaries of developments in particular sub-areas and sectors. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.
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Este artículo compara los tratados de gobernanza climática con el Tratado de la Carta de la Energía, explica los efectos que el otorgar derechos a la naturaleza a nivel estatal tiene con relación a la gobernanza ambiental global del cambio climático y su importancia para América Latina. Argumenta que promover y conceder derechos a la naturaleza a escala estatal es um elemento que contribuye a la activación socio-legal coordinada de diversos actores, y presiona la implementación efectiva de medidas y el cumplimiento de compromisos multilaterales dentro de la “orquestación” de gobernanza ambiental global. Del mismo modo, y desde una perspectiva de derechos humanos, expone que, dentro de la trayectoria de la gobernanza climática transnacional, la acción a nivel estatal, a través de la aceptación de derechos de la naturaleza, representa una medida precautoria insoslayable, dada la presión, cada vez mayor del Norte Global por los bienes y servicios de la naturaleza en el contexto de la transición energética.
Article
Our understanding of climate change has expanded to include issues beyond reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, we do not have a sound empirical understanding of how negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations have evolved to address an increasingly wide range of issues relevant to climate change. To understand what the climate talks have focused on and how the volume of work has changed, the authors create a Climate Negotiations Database that categorizes negotiation agenda items starting from the first Conference of the Parties (COP) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1995. Overall, the volume of work in the negotiations is shown to have steadily increased over time but it is not necessarily tied to the negotiation of new rules enshrined in major agreements or outcomes. While the negotiations have broadened to include a wider range of issues, we demonstrate that transparency and mitigation matters traditionally dominate the agendas. This finding lends support to the call for greater balance among issues. Transparency and mitigation show different patterns. While mitigation issues are more negotiations-intensive, and often about markets, the transparency discussions tend to be more implementation-focused. The database provides an empirical base for further research on various aspects of global climate governance. Key policy insights • Intergovernmental agendas provide one way to study how countries collectively view climate change and potential governance options. • The Climate Negotiations Database finds relative stability in the top ten climate issues discussed over time, with mitigation and transparency as the top two categories. • The range of issues discussed in the context of international climate negotiations has expanded, especially since 2007. The climate talks have broadened their focus beyond reducing emissions. • There is a mismatch between the recurrence of mitigation sub-items and substantive outcomes that would yield emissions reductions. Half of the mitigation sub-items relate to market mechanisms and forests, perhaps indicating a lack of attention to the core work of reducing emissions from industrial sources. • The number of agenda sub-items for the climate regime spiked at the start of the Paris Agreement negotiations and remained relatively high. Under the Paris Agreement, the balance of issues considered may shift and potentially amplify the recent downturn in mitigation-related items.
Article
Global climate governance is in transition. As the focus shifts from negotiations to implementation, the quest for ways to effectively coordinate ambitious climate action has become a key concern. While existing studies frame this problem mostly in terms of institutional design (to “facilitate” state ambition) and strategic delegation of authority (to “orchestrate” nonstate action), this article builds on dramaturgical policy analysis to examine soft coordination in practice. Using ethnographic methods, we analyze public performances at the twenty-fifth Conference of the Parties (COP25) in Madrid. We find that these were shaped by preestablished governance scripts and social roles available to participants, but also by creative improvisations and interventions. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat and COP Presidency intervened to configure the physical setting of the conference, mold its narrative arch, and shape available roles. We conclude that performances and dramaturgical interventions are important tools of soft coordination in global climate governance. Their analysis constitutes a productive entry point for grasping contemporary transformations in global politics.
Article
How do global and regional climate targets, rules, policies, and standards emerge and under which conditions are they effectively enabled within domestic political systems? When and how do national policy innovations diffuse and who are the principle actors involved? This paper aims to shed light on the multilevel intermediation processes that shape climate policy development and implementation, with a particular focus the interplay between the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), regional multilateral institutions, and their member states. As per the original project deliverable, the aim of this study is both descriptive – providing a detailed and historical perspective on “multi-level implementation of the UNFCCC regime through coordinated action within and between member states” – as well as analytical, namely, to assess its “effectiveness and ability to accelerate climate governance implementation”. It builds upon earlier ground-clearing research that produced a comprehensive mapping of the current UNFCCC regime and the wider climate governance regime complex, illuminating scope for action by a wide variety of actors at all scales, from the sub-national to the highest global level of political assembly (Coen, Kreienkamp, and Pegram 2020). By focusing on interscalar interactions on the regional level, this paper zeroes in on particularly important dynamics within this complex ecosystem of global climate governance. More specifically, we compare governance arrangements in the European Union (EU), where supranational climate policymaking is most advanced, to those in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), where regional cooperation on climate change remains very limited.1 Regional organizations provide an instructive domain of analysis because they sit neither at the “top” nor at the “bottom” of the global climate change regime, providing vital governance (regulatory) as well as meta-governance (steering) functions.2 Although there are significant differences between the EU and ASEAN, both case studies point to linkages between global, regional, and national climate governance, with the international framework setting boundary conditions for regional and national policy development and vice versa. However, while these linkages have, at several points in time, accelerated policymaking processes in the EU, they have created few opportunities for significant policy change within ASEAN. Whereas our previous mapping of the global climate governance landscape employed scholarship on regime complexity to illustrate the growing institutional diversity on the inter- 1 This emulates recent scholarship seeking to advance comparative leverage between the EU and ASEAN focused on institutional design, in light of temporal and spatial variation in regional integration processes (Hofmann and Yeo 2017). 2 Meta-governance arrangements do not regulate or govern directly but rather engage in the “organization of self-organization” by providing ground rules for and ensuring the coherence and consistency of different governance regimes and mechanisms, whether through networks, markets, or hierarchical steering (Jessop 1998, p. 42). 4 and transnational level, this paper aims to provide a more sophisticated account of the governance dynamics playing out within this cluster of institutional arrangements through a multilevel governance (MLG) lens. Given space constraints, our focus is on the UNFCCC regime, which remains at the core of the broader climate regime complex (Keohane and Victor 2011). While the regime complexity literature is primarily concerned with the rising density of institutions on the same level of governance and the resulting proliferation of overlapping rules (Alter and Meunier 2009), MLG is more concerned with linkages and interactions between multiple scales and levels of governance and how this affects where policymaking authority is located. This provides a useful frame for exploring if, how, when, and why the UNFCCC regime affects the design of regional and national institutional arrangements and how, in turn, actors at various levels of governance seek to shape the rules and institutions that make up the regime. We show how MLG structures can be exploited by progressive policy entrepreneurs, who advance novel policy solutions, as well as policy obstructers who, for various reasons, are invested in the status-quo. To do so, we employ John Kingdon’s (1984) multiple streams framework (MSF), which highlights both the structural conditions that facilitate or impede non-incremental policy change – problem perception, availability of policy solutions, and political willingness – as well as the ability of different agents to exploit these conditions. Understanding these processes, and under which conditions they result in more ambitious climate action, is vital for any efforts to make existing governance arrangements more effective. As such, this paper speaks not just to scholars of global governance, International Relations, public policy, and related disciplines but first and foremost to policymakers at various levels of decision-making, seeking to better understand and reform policy processes. We supplement the EU and ASEAN case studies – which focus primarily on vertical interactions in multilevel governance arrangements – with a case study on transnational policy diffusion, tracing how national climate framework laws have emerged as important governance tools for internalizing UNFCCC rules and norms, mostly in Europe but increasingly beyond. Climate laws are significant because they enshrine binding long-term mitigation targets and establish overarching governance frameworks to realize these targets. While they have primarily diffused horizontally, we also document how policy entrepreneurs have recently managed to “upload” the concept to the EU-level. Some design elements of climate framework laws are even reflected in the Paris Agreement. Because the latter does not set legally binding mitigation targets for individual countries, relying instead on voluntary national commitments, climate laws can provide an important “link between international obligations and national policymaking” (Nash and Steurer 2019, p. 1061). However, for mitigation commitments to be meaningful, accountability structures must be in place to ensure that targets are grounded in science and implemented effectively. As we will show, independent climate advisory bodies 5 (ICABs) can play an important role in this regard – but only if they are properly resourced and vested with requisite powers. To date, only a handful of countries, primarily in Europe, have implemented strong and robust climate laws, with ambitious and quantifiable long-term targets, clear governance provisions, and ICABs that are not just offering scientific advice but also rigid progress monitoring. Meanwhile, in the ASEAN region, long-standing structural limitations to political accountability, participation, and civil society engagement have impeded the development of climate laws and formal ICABs. However, as we will argue, the emergence of informal monitoring regimes comprised of domestic civil society organizations could provide an alternative, albeit “softer”, avenue for driving more ambitious climate action and holding governments to account. This paper begins by introducing multilevel governance (MLG) and the multiple streams framework (MSF), which provide the theoretical anchor for our case studies. We then apply these concepts to reflect on the development of climate governance in the EU, with particular focus on the interplay between the EU and the UNFCCC. This is followed by a case study on ASEAN, where regional climate governance structures are much less developed and there is little coordinated engagement with the UNFCCC regime. To illustrate the diversity of national approaches within ASEAN and identify obstacles and opportunities for more sophisticated climate governance arrangements, we supplement the regional case study with reflections on the current situation in Indonesia and Singapore. The next part of the paper focuses on national climate framework laws, explaining their emergence and ongoing diffusion as well as weighing in on their potential as innovative governance solutions. The paper concludes by reflecting on the future of global, regional, and national climate governance in light of conflicting problem definitions and the need for urgent action, even in the face of other pressing challenges, such as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Article
This article draws lessons for the effectiveness of the Paris Agreement’s pledge and review mechanisms from the performance of comparable review mechanisms established under other international treaties. The article employs systematic evidence synthesis methods to review the existing literature on international review mechanisms in the human rights, trade, labour, and monetary policy fields and identifies six common factors influencing their performance. Applying these findings to the Paris Agreement, the analysis finds that its review mechanisms incorporate many of these factors. In particular, they combine both expert and peer review, allow for repeated interaction and capacity building, and facilitate the regular and transparent provision of information. The comparative analysis also highlights two major deficiencies of the Paris Agreement: the absence of procedures to assess the adequacy of national pledges and actions taken to implement them, and resource constraints in carrying out a complex and arduous review process. Active engagement of non-state actors with review mechanisms is identified as a potential remedy to these shortcomings. However, the overall experience of other regimes suggests that, on their own, review mechanisms provide few incentives for states to undertake significant policy changes. Rather, the political context of each regime conditions the performance of review mechanisms. We therefore conclude that the Paris Agreement’s review mechanisms alone are unlikely to bring about the necessary ratcheting up of climate policy ambitions. Key policy insights • Review mechanism performance relies on six factors that are common across international agreements: the ability of the mechanism to solicit accurate information, the involvement of experts and state peers in the review process, the ability to ensure repeated interaction, the institutional capacity to carry out the review, the transparency of the review process and its outputs, and the salience and practicality of the outcomes produced by the review. • The Paris Agreement’s strengths lie in its rules designed to facilitate the transparent provision of information, the inclusion of both expert and peer review, its facilitation of repeated interaction and in providing support to build the reporting capacities of states. • The Paris Agreement severely restricts the salience and practicality of its review outcomes by prohibiting an assessment of the adequacy of national pledges. • It remains uncertain whether the UNFCCC secretariat’s capacity and resources will suffice to carry out the arduous review task.
Article
The Paris Agreement’s decentralized and bottom-up approach to climate action poses an enormous accounting challenge by substantially increasing the number of heterogeneous national, sub-national, and non-state actors. Current legacy climate accounting systems and mechanisms are insufficient to avoid information asymmetry and double-counting due to actor heterogeneity and fragmentation. This paper presents a nested climate accounting architecture that integrates several innovative digital technologies, such as Distributed Ledger Technology, Internet of Things, Machine Learning, and concepts such as nested accounting and decentralized identifiers to improve interoperability across accounting systems. Such an architecture can enhance capacity building and technology transfer to the Global South by creating innovation groups, increasing scalability of accounting solutions that can lead to leapfrogging into innovative systems designs, and improving inclusiveness.
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This article conceptualizes corporate accountability under international law andintroduces an analytical framework translating corporate accountability into seven core elements.Using this analytical framework, it then systematically assesses four models that could be used ina future business and human rights treaty: the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business andHuman Rights model, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights model, the progressive model, andthe transformative model. It aims to contribute to the BHR treaty negotiation process by clarifyingdifferent options and possible trade-offs between them, while taking into account political realities.Ultimately, the article argues in favour of the BHR treaty embracing a progressive model of corporateaccountability, which combines ambitious development of international law with realistic prospectsof state support.
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Book
Many forest-related problems are considered relevant today. One might think of deforestation, illegal logging and biodiversity loss. Yet, many governance initiatives have been initiated to work on their solutions. This Element takes stock of these issues and initiatives by analysing different forest governance modes, shifts and norms, and by studying five cases (forest sector governance, forest legality, forest certification, forest conservation, participatory forest management). Special focus is on performance: are the many forest governance initiatives able to change established practices of forest decline (Chloris worldview) or are they doomed to fail (Hydra worldview)? The answer will be both, depending on geographies and local conditions. The analyses are guided by discursive institutionalism and philosophical pragmatism. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.
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Book
An ecofeminist criticism of neoliberalism, this book uses economic growth, CSR and the press coverage of environmental affairs as a case study. The author argues that CSR is part of a wheel of neoliberalism that continually perpetuates inequality and the exploitation of women and Nature. Using an ecofeminist sense-making analysis of media coverage of food waste, global warming, plastic, economic growth and CSR, the author shows how the press discourse in writing is always similar and serves to preserve the status quo with CSR being just a smokescreen that saved capitalism and just one cog in the wheel of neoliberalism. While available research offers perspectives from business and public relations studies, looking at how CSR is implemented and how it contributes towards the reputation of businesses, this book explores how the media enforce CSR discourse while at the same time arguing for environmental preservation. The book presents a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods to explain how and why CSR is being pushed forward by the news media, and how the media preserves the status quo by creating moral panic on environmental issues while at the same time pushing for CSR discourse and economic growth, which only contributes towards environmental degradation. The original research presented in the book looks at how the media write about economic growth, plastics, food waste, CSR and global warming. This interdisciplinary study draws on ecofeminist theory and media feminist theory to provide a novel analysis of CSR, making the case that enforcing CSR as a way to do business damages the environment and that the media enforce a neoliberal discourse of promoting both economic growth and environmentalism, which does not go together. Examining the UK media as a case study, a detailed methodological account is provided so that the study can be repeated and compared elsewhere. The book is aimed at academics and researchers in business and media studies, as well as those in women’s studies. It will also be relevant to scholars in business management and marketing.
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Article
This article conceptualizes corporate accountability under international law and introduces an analytical framework translating corporate accountability into seven core elements. Using this analytical framework, it then systematically assesses four models that could be used in a future business and human rights (BHR) treaty: the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights model, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights model, the progressive model, and the transformative model. It aims to contribute to the BHR treaty negotiation process by clarifying different options and possible trade-offs between them, while taking into account political realities. Ultimately, the article argues in favour of the BHR treaty embracing a progressive model of corporate accountability, which combines ambitious development of international law with realistic prospects of state support.
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Article
International tax governance is significant societally as it impacts both inequality and the capacity of governments to deliver on their social contracts. Tax experts forma key, under-researched, heterogeneous element of the tax ecosystem, subject to a range of hard and soft governance influences. While problematic tax regimes are appropriately identified by reference to lax regulation or financial opacity, few empirical studies explore how operating in these jurisdictions affects the governance of tax experts individually. Using international survey data, we find that the influence of soft governance on tax experts varies across conditions of secrecy or lax regulation. Soft governance, including that of the workplace and the profession, is most influential in challenging regimes. Beyond a tipping point of economic freedom, regulatory knowledge and the threat of sanction become less influential. Elements along the continuum between hard and soft governance interact in a non-homogenous way that indicates a role for professional bodies and firms in tax governance.
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Chapter
Drawing on adaptation program reviews and interviews with focal points and other key informants carried out between January 2015 and September 2017,48 this chapter describes progress in adaptation governance, institutional development, transparency, and accountability in selected LACs.
Chapter
In this chapter, we explore how non-state and sub-state actors, such as civil society organizations, cities, indigenous groups, or the business sector, shape the democratic legitimacy of intergovernmental climate politics. The Paris Agreement revolves around states’ voluntary climate plans expressed in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Analyzing the NDC’s various entry points for non-state engagement, this chapter asks if and how non-state actors can enhance the democratic legitimacy of climate politics in a multi-level governance setting. To do so, we first revisit the post-Paris climate governance landscape and the different roles associated with non-state actors. Based on earlier work dealing with the legitimacy of non-state actors in climate governance, we conceptualize democratic legitimacy through the five values of participation, representation, accountability, transparency, and deliberation. We examine how non-state actors succeed or fail to secure these democratic norms. In conclusion, climate governance in the post-Paris era holds the potential to enhance but also undermine the democratic legitimacy of political decisions through involvement of non-state actors which can be cooperative, confrontational, or co-opted by state-driven agendas.
Book
Fossil fuel subsidies strain public budgets, and contribute to climate change and local air pollution. Despite widespread agreement among experts about the benefits of reforming fossil fuel subsidies, repeated international commitments to eliminate them, and valiant efforts by some countries to reform them, they continue to persist. This book helps explain this conundrum, by exploring the politics of fossil fuel subsidies and their reform. Bringing together scholars and practitioners, the book offers new case studies both from countries that have undertaken subsidy reform, and those that have yet to do so. It explores the roles of various intergovernmental and non-governmental institutions in promoting fossil fuel subsidy reform at the international level, as well as conceptual aspects of fossil fuel subsidies. This is essential reading for researchers and practitioners, and students of political science, international relations, law, public policy, and environmental studies. Available in Open Access via this link: https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/politics-of-fossil-fuel-subsidies-and-their-reform/B8CB7D383F33AD9AF9CC82EB50A74DE5#fndtn-information
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Article
The climate regime, comprising the Framework Convention on Climate Change of 1992 and the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, contains elements of prescription for and leadership of developed countries and differentiation in favor of developing countries. The nature and extent of differentiation in favor of developing countries in the climate regime, however, has remained contentious through the years. While there is a shared understanding among states that they have common but differentiated responsibilities in addressing climate change, there is little agreement on the formulae for differentiating between states in doing so. This Article argues that the outcomes of international climate negotiations in recent years, in particular the Copenhagen Accord of 2009 and the Cancun Agreements of 2010, offer a distinctive vision of differential treatment. Through these instruments, the international community appears to be moving from differentiation in favor of developing countries towards differentiation or exibility for all countries, as well as towards increasing parallelism between developed and developing countries. The Durban Platform of 2011, which launches a new process to negotiate a post-2020 agreement, con rms this trend, setting the scene for the erosion of differential treatment in the future/post-2020 climate regime. This Article explores the nature of differentiation, as it is evolving, in the emerging climate regime, in particular as it relates to mitigation obligations, and the impact this is likely to have on the design, ambition, reach and rigor of the emerging climate regime.
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Article
The Paris Agreement commits nations in Article 2(1) to “Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.” However there is an absence of internationally agreed accounting rules that would permit overall assessments of progress to this goal and any meaningful comparisons of performance between countries. This is true also for the quantitative Copenhagen/Cancún promise by developed nations to jointly mobilize US$100 billion by 2020. Our goal is to provoke discussion about the depth of the problems this lack of a functional definition and accounting system have created and perpetuated. We do so by describing the fragmented system of national reporting of climate finance and how the OECD’s Rio Marker system is serving neither contributors nor recipients. More than a trust issue between developed and developing countries, we argue that the lack of modalities to account for climate finance also considerably impedes the effective functioning of the bottom-up approach that now prevails under the UNFCCC. The deadline to propose "modalities of accounting climate finance" by 2018 is a crucial window in which to address this chronic issue in international climate policy.
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Article
As the contours of a post-2012 climate regime begin to emerge, compliance issues will require increasing attention. This volume considers the questions that the trends in the climate negotiations raise for the regime’s compliance system. It reviews the main features of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol, canvasses the literature on compliance theory and examines the broader experience with compliance mechanisms in other international environmental regimes. Against this backdrop, contributors examine the central elements of the existing compliance system, the practice of the Kyoto compliance procedure to date and the main compliance challenges encountered by key groups of states such as OECD countries, economies in transition and developing countries. These assessments anchor examinations of the strengths and weaknesses of the existing compliance tools and of the emerging, decentralized, ‘bottom-up’ approach introduced by the 2009 Copenhagen Accord and pursued by the 2010 Cancun Agreements.
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Article
Debates about globalization have centered on calls to improve accountability to limit abuses of power in world politics. How should we think about global accountability in the absence of global democracy? Who should hold whom to account and according to what standards? Thinking clearly about these questions requires recognizing a distinction, evident in theories of accountability at the nation-state level, between “participation” and “delegation” models of accountability. The distinction helps to explain why accountability is so problematic at the global level and to clarify alternative possibilities for pragmatic improvements in accountability mechanisms globally. We identify seven types of accountability mechanisms and consider their applicability to states, NGOs, multilateral organizations, multinational corporations, and transgovernmental networks. By disaggregating the problem in this way, we hope to identify opportunities for improving protections against abuses of power at the global level.
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Article
The role of transnational partnerships in contemporary global environmental discourse raises larger questions of the legitimacy, effectiveness and accountability of networked governance. This article advances a conceptual framework for evaluating the legitimacy of partnership networks. Furthermore, it examines, in particular, the multi-stakeholder partnerships for sustainable development announced at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg 2002. Partnership networks have been branded as a new form of global governance with the potential to bridge multilateral norms and local action by drawing on a diverse number of actors in civil society, government and business. Does the rise of global partnerships imply a re-location and diffusion of authority from government to public–private ‘implementation networks’? Recent evaluations of the Johannesburg partnerships suggest that they can gain from a clearer linkage to existing institutions and multilateral agreements, measurable targets and timetables, more effective leadership, improved accountability, systematic review, reporting and monitoring mechanisms. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.
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Article
The concepts of transparency and accountability are closely linked: transparency is supposed to generate accountability. This article questions this widely held assumption. Transparency mobilises the power of shame, yet the shameless may not be vulnerable to public exposure. Truth often fails to lead to justice. After exploring different definitions and dimensions of the two ideas, the more relevant question turns out tobe: what kinds of transparency lead to what kinds of accountability, and under what conditions? The article concludes by proposing that the concept can be unpacked in terms of two distinct variants. Transparency can be either 'clear'or 'opaque', while accountability can be either 'soft'or 'hard'.
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Article
Public-private partnerships (PPP) have been advanced as a new tool of global governance, which can supply both effective and legitimate governance. In the context of recent debates on the democratic legitimacy of transnational governance, this paper focuses on accountability as a central component of legitimacy. The aim of this paper is to map transnational climate partnerships and evaluate their accountability record in terms of transparency, monitoring mechanisms and representation of stakeholders. Three types of partnerships are identified with respect to their degree of public-private interaction: public-private (hybrid), governmental and private-private. Most of the climate partnerships have functions of advocacy, service provision and implementation. None are standard setting, which indicates that governmental actors are less willing to "contract out" rule-setting authority to private actors in the climate change. Some partnerships, such as the World Summit on Sustainable Development climate partnerships and Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects represent "new" modes of hybrid governance with high degree of public-private interaction. However, many partnerships, not least the voluntary technology agreements such as the APP, rest on "old" form of governance based on the logic of lobbying, corporatism, co-optation and interstate bargaining. Private (business-to business) climate partnerships are to varying degrees geared toward quantitative targets in the Kyoto Protocol. The accountability record is higher for hybrid climate partnerships, such as the CDM, due to extensive reporting and monitoring mechanisms, while lower for the governmental networks, such as voluntary technology agreements. Partnerships do not necessarily replace or erode the authority of sovereign states, but rather propels the hybridization and transformation of authority that is increasingly shared between state and nonstate actors. (c) 2008 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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This article uses the lens of accountability to explore the shifting strategies of a range of civil society groups in their engagement with key actors in the global regime on climate change. It first reviews traditional strategies aimed at increasing the 'public accountability' of governments and UN bodies for agreed actions on climate change. This approach is then compared with the growing tendency to pursue the accountability of private corporations with respect to climate change. These strategies aim, among other things, to promote 'civil regulation': that is, governance of the private sector through civil society oversight. The final part of the article reflects on the possibilities and limitations of civil society actors performing such accountability roles in the contemporary politics of climate change and suggests key challenges for future climate advocacy. It argues that success in enhancing the accountability of public and private actors on the issue of climate change has been highly uneven and reflects both the effectiveness of the strategies adopted and the responsiveness of the target actors and institutions. (c) 2008 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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Article
Private rule-making features prominently on the research agenda of International Relations scholars today. The field of forest politics in particular has proven to be a lively arena for experimenting with novel policies (for example, third party certification and labeling) and procedures (for example, power-sharing in stakeholder bodies). This article focuses on the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), one of the earliest and most institutionalized private certification schemes, in order to assess the role and relevance of accountability politics for global forest governance. Specifically, we ask three related questions: first, what role did a deepening accountability crisis and the resulting reconstruction of accountability play in the formation of the FSC? Second, how is accountability organized within the FSC? And finally, what accountability outcomes emerge as a result of the FSC's policies and operations? The article closes with some reflections about the limitations of private-based accountability in global environmental politics. (c) 2008 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Article
Non-state actors will play a unique and crucial role in the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Although much of the focus in the run-up to Paris was on mitigation commitments and actions taken by those actors, this essay focuses on another valuable contribution: to hold the Parties to their obligations under the Paris Agreement. Specifically, it argues that, while the formal avenues for non-state actor participation in review processes – seen here to encompass the review of implementation, compliance and effectiveness – remain limited, there are several other ways in which non-state actors can be, and already have been, influential.
Technical Report
There are many reasons why the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reporting framework requests information from countries. These include understanding and tracking progress with individual or collective commitments or pledges, providing confidence and enhancing accountability in quantified information measured and reported, and providing background information on the scope and ambition of national climate responses. This paper highlights the gaps, inconsistencies and uncertainties in the current reporting framework, which was developed for both long-standing obligations and mitigation pledges for the period to 2020. The paper also identifies possible improvements in the UNFCCC reporting framework in the context of the post-2020 transparency framework and nationally determined contributions (NDCs) for the post-2020 period.
Article
Non-state actors will play a unique and crucial role in the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Although much of the focus in the lead-up to Paris was on the mitigation commitments and actions of non-state actors, this essay focuses on another valuable contribution they can make: to hold the parties to their obligations under the Paris Agreement. I argue that, while the formal avenues for non-state-actor participation in review processes - encompassing the review of implementation, compliance, and effectiveness - remain limited, there are several other ways in which non-state actors can be, and already have been, influential.
Book
A solution to the problem of climate change requires close international cooperation and difficult reforms involving all states. Law has a clear role to play in that solution. What is not so clear is the role that law has played to date as a constraining factor on state conduct. International Climate Change Law and State Compliance is an unprecedented treatment of the nature of climate change law and the compliance of states with that law. The book argues that the international climate change regime, in the twenty or so years it has been in existence, has developed certain normative rules of law, binding on states. State conduct under these rules is characterized by generally high compliance in areas where equity is not a major concern. There is, by contrast, low compliance in matters requiring a burden-sharing agreement among states to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to a safe level. The book argues that the substantive climate law presently in place must be further developed, through normative rules that bind states individually to top-down mitigation commitments. While a solution to the problem of climate change must take this form, the laws development in this direction is likely to be hesitant and slow. The book is aimed at scholars and graduate students in environmental law, international law, and international relations.
Article
The 2015 Paris Agreement represents a historic achievement in multilateral diplomacy. After years of deeply discordant negotiations, Parties harnessed the political will necessary to arrive at a climate change agreement that strikes a careful balance between ambition and differentiation. The Paris Agreement contains aspirational goals, binding obligations of conduct in relation to mitigation, a rigorous system of oversight, and a nuanced form of differentiation between developed and developing countries. This article will explore the key building blocks of the Paris Agreement—ambition and differentiation—with an eye to mining the text of the Agreement for its interpretative possibilities and underlying politics.
Article
Transparency is increasingly evoked within public and private climate governance arrangements as a key means to enhance accountability and improve environmental outcomes. We review assumed links between transparency, accountability and environmental sustainability here, by identifying four rationales underpinning uptake of transparency in governance. We label these democratization, technocratization, marketization and privatization, and assess how they shape the scope and practices of climate disclosure, and to what effect. We find that all four are discernible in climate governance, yet the technocratic and privatization rationales tend to overtake the originally intended (more inclusive, and more public-good oriented) democratization and marketization rationales for transparency, particularly during institutionalization of disclosure systems. This reduces transparency's potential to enhance accountability or trigger more environmentally sustainable outcomes.
Article
As negotiations for the post-2020 agreement on climate change are underway and expected to be concluded by the end of 2015, the call for ensuring accountability with respect to the implementation of the agreement is attracting increased attention. Hence, one need to have a clear understanding of the meaning of the term "accountability", particularly as it is used in relation to climate change. Accountability, a term used frequently in politics, is rather new in international law. This paper examines the history of achieving accountability in climate change negotiations, and examines that history under three headings, namely, (1) accountability for historical emissions of developed countries, (2) accountability under the Convention and (3) accountability under the Kyoto Protocol. Through a reflection on past accountability practices, this paper intends to establish that two different modes for achieving accountability have emerged: (1) international legal accountability, and (2) international political accountability. These may well provide useful guides to those involved in crafting the post-2020 agreement. As past practice in climate negotiation has shown, achieving accountability has been fraught with difficulties due to its implications for sanctions or political pressures on a sovereign State. These same concerns would persist in the discussion of the accountability regime for the post-2020 agreement.
Article
The Kyoto Protocol is remarkable among global multilateral environmental agreements for its efforts to depoliticize compliance. However, attempts to create autonomous, arm’s length and rule-based compliance processes with extensive reliance on putatively neutral experts were only partially realized in practice in the first commitment period from 2008 to 2012. In particular, the procedurally constrained facilitative powers vested in the Facilitative Branch were circumvented, and expert review teams (ERTs) assumed pivotal roles in compliance facilitation. The ad hoc diplomatic and facilitative practices engaged in by these small teams of technical experts raise questions about the reliability and consistency of the compliance process. For the future operation of the Kyoto compliance system, it is suggested that ERTs should be confined to more technical and procedural roles, in line with their expertise. There would then be greater scope for the Facilitative Branch to assume a more comprehensive facilitative role, safeguarded by due process guarantees, in accordance with its mandate. However, if – as appears likely – the future compliance trajectories under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will include a significant role for ERTs without oversight by the Compliance Committee, it is important to develop appropriate procedural safeguards that reflect and shape the various technical and political roles these teams currently play.
Book
Transparency—openness, secured through greater availability of information—is increasingly seen as part of the solution to a complex array of economic, political, and ethical problems in an interconnected world. The “transparency turn” in global environmental governance in particular is seen in a range of international agreements, voluntary disclosure initiatives, and public-private partnerships. This is the first book to investigate whether transparency in global environmental governance is in fact a broadly transformative force or plays a more limited, instrumental role. After three conceptual, context-setting chapters, the book examines ten specific and diverse instances of “governance by disclosure.” These include state-led mandatory disclosure initiatives that rely on such tools as prior informed consent and monitoring, measuring, reporting and verification; and private (or private-public), largely voluntary efforts that include such corporate transparency initiatives as the Carbon Disclosure Project and such certification schemes as the Forest Stewardship Council. The cases, which focus on issue areas including climate change, biodiversity, biotechnology, natural resource exploitation, and chemicals, demonstrate that although transparency is ubiquitous, its effects are limited and often specific to particular contexts. The book explores in what circumstances transparency can offer the possibility of a new emancipatory politics in global environmental governance.
Article
Observers often cite transparency as a response to the accountability concerns of global actors, but how disclosure and openness actually affect the behavior of international organizations, transnational corporations, and nation-states remains theoretically and empirically under-specified. This article identifies three forces—market pressure, external discourse, and internal norms—that can have a regulatory effect on global actors who make their actions transparent. It also highlights the limitations of such accountability tools and stresses the need for an accounting actor, typically civil society, to bring them to bear. The article then considers the implications of transparency-based accountability for larger questions of global governance, especially its potential to create the kind of nonterritorial, problem-based polities that scholars have called for to address problems that transcend national boundaries.
Article
Two weeks of wrangling and grandstanding at the United Nations climate change conference ended with the "Copenhagen Accord", which was a paper-thin cover-up of what was a near complete failure, though it does enable the process to move forward. These reflections on the climate negotiations first provide a brief encapsulation of events, followed by a discussion of the key negotiation issues that took centre stage. It then provides a political interpretation of the Copenhagen Accord and its future prospects. The reflections locate the process in the context of the larger, and unresolved tensions between the North and the South. The article concludes with an outline of what the Copenhagen experience suggests is needed in the Indian climate debate.
Article
Aimed at the increasing number of policy-makers, stakeholders, researchers, and other professionals working on climate change, this volume presents a detailed description and analysis of the international regime established in 1992 to combat the threat of global climate change. It provides a comprehensive accessible guide to a high-profile area of international law and politics, covering not only the obligations and rights of countries, but ongoing climate negotiations as well.
Article
During the 1990s, increasing transparency emerged as a key objective of those attempting to design the structures of contemporary global governance, touted as "the solution to everything from international financial crises to arms races to street crime".2 A wide array of social forces, non-governmental organisations, state and inter-state agencies have invoked the ideal of transparency in the making of the various structures of global governance. Transparency has featured in competing normative visions of global governance, taking on a range of contested meanings in differing contexts. Inquiry into the drive for increased transparency offers, then, a useful vantage point from which to consider the political processes associated with the making of the structures of contemporary global governance. This paper traces and accounts for the drive for increased transparency as it has been felt in global environmental governance (GEG). Scholars in International Studies (IS) concerned with GEG cast transparency as a norm that has become significant in transforming state behaviour. Increased transparency with regard to states' environmental performance assists in the implementation of inter-state environmental treaties. It is the contention of this paper that such a representation of the rise of transparency in GEG is at best narrow and partial and, at worst, misleading. The impact of transparency in GEG is not as clear as the existing research would suggest. Transparency has become significant not simply in terms of implementing inter-state environmental treaties, but is coming to permeate the structure of environmental governance in a broader and more pervasive manner. Transparency tends to prompt a belief in the desirability of a release of information concerning the environmental performance of institutionalised practices across both state and market institutions. Inquiry into this broader drive for transparency serves to illuminate important contested processes of change currently underway in the making of GEG.
Article
It has been argued that the EU suffers from serious accountability deficits. But how can we establish the existence of accountability deficits? This article tries to get to grips with the appealing but elusive concept of accountability by asking three types of questions. First a conceptual one: what exactly is meant by accountability? In this article the concept of accountability is used in a rather narrow sense: a relationship between an actor and a forum, in which the actor has an obligation to explain and to justify his or her conduct, the forum can pose questions and pass judgement, and the actor may face consequences. The second question is analytical: what types of accountability are involved? A series of dimensions of accountability are discerned that can be used to describe the various accountability relations and arrangements that can be found in the different domains of European governance. The third question is evaluative: how should we assess these accountability arrangements? The article provides three evaluative perspectives: a democratic, a constitutional and a learning perspective. Each of these perspectives may produce different types of accountability deficits.
Article
World politics has never been a democratic realm. Now, with interdependence and globalization prompting demands for global governance, the lack of global democracy has become an important public issue. Yet the domestic analogy is unhelpful since the conditions for electoral democracy, much less participatory democracy, do not exist on a global level. Rather than abandoning democratic principles, we should rethink our ambitions. First, we should emphasize, in our normative as well as our positive work, the role played by information in facilitating international cooperation and democratic discourse. Second, we should define feasible objectives such as limiting potential abuses of power, rather than aspiring to participatory democracy and then despairing of its impossibility. Third, we should focus as much on the powerful entities that are the core of the problem, including multinational firms and states, as on multilateral organizations, which often are the focus of criticism. Finally, we need to think about how to design a pluralistic accountability system for world politics that relies on a variety of types of accountability: supervisory, fiscal, legal, market, peer and reputational. A challenge for contemporary political science is to design such a system, which could promote both democratic values and effective international cooperation.
Article
This introductory article draws on the contributions to this special issue to consider the implications of a transparency turn in global environmental and sustainability governance. Three interrelated aspects are addressed: why transparency now? How is transparency being institutionalized? And what effects does it have? In analyzing the spread of transparency in governance, the article highlights the broader (contested) normative context that shapes both its embrace by various actors and its institutionalization. I argue that the effects of transparency-whether it informs, empowers or improves environmental performance-remain uneven, with transparency falling short of meeting the ends many anticipate from it. Nonetheless, as the contributions to this issue make clear, transparency has indeed come of age as a defining feature of our current and future politics. (c) 2010 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Article
Although transparency is a key concept of our times, it remains a relatively understudied phenomenon in global environmental politics. The link between transparency and accountable, legitimate and effective governance is assumed, yet the nature and workings of this link require further scrutiny. Transparency via information disclosure is increasingly at the heart of a number of global environmental governance initiatives, termed "governance-by-disclosure" here. The article identifies two assumptions that underpin such governance-by-disclosure initiatives, and calls for comparative analysis of the workings of such assumptions in practice, as a way to illuminate the nature and implications of a transparency turn in global environmental governance and its link to accountable, legitimate and effective governance. (c) 2008 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) in Developing Countries: Challenges and Opportunities
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van Asselt H, Berseus J, Gupta J, Haug C (2010) Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) in Developing Countries: Challenges and Opportunities. Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, Bilthoven.
Improving Transparency and Accountability in the Post-2020 Climate Regime: A Fair Way Forward
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Dagnet Y, Fei T, Elliott C, Qiu Y (2014) Improving Transparency and Accountability in the Post-2020 Climate Regime: A Fair Way Forward. WRI, Washington, DC.
Design Options for International Assessment and Review (IAR) and International Consultations and Analysis (ICA)
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Reflections on the Cancun Agreements
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Experience with the Facilitative and Enforcement Branches of the Kyoto Compliance System
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Global Accountabilities: Participation, Pluralism and Public Ethics
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The Cancun Agreements: Outcome of the Work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention
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