Climate action beyond mitigation and the global North

Chan, Sander
External Publications (2016)

in: Seminar 683 (Special Issue: The road from Paris, a symposium on the new architecture of climate governance), 37


PARIS has seen the most comprehensive kind of framework for non-state and subnational climate action to date. The growing importance of such action is part of a larger development towards polycentric climate governance in which traditional state based regimes are complemented by private and hybrid regimes involving both national and sub-national governments, as well as civil society, business and investors.

This article focuses on the implication for developing countries and points out three challenges and criticisms of the outcomes of the Paris climate conference to facilitate non-state action. First, both policy and academic discussions have in general been biased towards direct mitigation actions while neglecting action in developing countries. Second, though there is great potential for non-state climate action in the global South, many actions remain ‘under the radar’. Third, in the period before 2020, the international community is heavily betting on non-state and sub-national action. This is a risky strategy when the range of options left to prevent dangerous climate change has shrunk.

There is little doubt that the Paris COP decision has expanded opportunities for non-state and subnational stakeholders to engage in global climate politics. Nevertheless, the framework for engagement is not comprehensive enough. Functionally, it is too narrowly focused on actions with a ‘high mitigation potential’, while adaptation actions remain relatively under-appreciated. In participatory terms, the action agenda does little to address the relative underrepresentation of stakeholders in the global South. Therefore, the post-Paris Action Agenda should combine a broader focus on climate impacts with broad engagement with actors in the global South.

About the author

Chan, Sander

Transnational and international environmental politics and governance


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