GEG WP 2009/51 Governing Climate Change: Lessons from other Governance Regimes

Sub- and non-state climate action: a framework to assess progress, implementation and impact
Westminster banner
Ripe for reform: UK scrutiny of international trade agreements
Industrial policy and risk sharing in public development banks: Lessons for the post-COVID response from the EIB and EFSI

At the heart of the existing climate change regime is a divide between developed and developing countries. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UN-FCCC) enshrines ‘common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities’ and in so doing recognizes that historical responsibility for climate change rests with developed countries and that they have greater capacity to address the problem. That said, the Convention specifies no timetable for the introduction of binding commitments on developing countries, nor any agreed procedures for ‘graduating’ countries from developing to developed status. As a result, progress in governing climate change rests heavily on finding a North–South agreement. That, in turn, rests on overcoming what Joanna Depledge and Farhana Yamin (2009) describe as ‘the persistence of dysfunctional North–South politics . . . negotiations between the groups tend to be dominated by kneejerk suspicion, defensiveness, and misunderstanding, which hinder the rational discussion of proposals’.

An ‘integrated multi-track approach’ has been proposed by Bodansky and Diringer (2008) as a possible way forward. All major emitters (developed and developing) would commit to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but they would have the flexibility to devise their own approaches (whether economy-wide targets, efficiency standards, efforts towards renewable energy, curbing deforestation, and so forth).1 Many developing countries are concerned and sceptical about the prospect of new regulatory arrangements. They do not wish to become ‘rule-takers’ in yet another sphere of global politics which leaves them vulnerable to rules, monitoring, and enforcement which they see as having asymmetric impact to their disadvantage.

We focus on: the participation of developing countries in rule-making, and the monitoring, verification, and enforcement processes. As mentioned above, developing countries are concerned that a small group of powerful, industrialized countries will mostly ‘do’ the regulating, leaving them highly constrained, but marginalized, with little influence or control over the rules and their application. Below we draw out why developing countries might be concerned and what kinds of arrangements might reduce the risk that they will be marginalized from arrangements.


Author Bios

Arunabha Ghosh is CEO of the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), an independent, policy research institution in India with a mandate to address pressing global challenges through an integrated approach. With experience in more than thirty countries, Arunabha’s work intersects international relations, global governance and human development, including climate, energy, water, trade and conflict. He advises governments, industry and civil society around the world on energy and resources security; renewable energy policy; water governance and institutions; climate governance (financing, R&D, geoengineering); energy-trade-climate linkages; and international regime design.

Professor Ngaire Woods is the inaugural Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government and Professor of International Political Economy. Her research focuses on global economic governance, the challenges of globalization, global development, and the role of international institutions. She founded and is the Director of the Global Economic Governance Programme. She is co-founder (with Robert O. Keohane) of the Oxford-Princeton Global Leaders Fellowship programme. She lead the creation of the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University and, before her appointment as Dean, served as the School’s Academic Director.