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Private Sector and Climate Change A Case Study of Carbon-Based Governance


Coen, D;

Herman, K;

Pegram, T;

(2020)

Private Sector and Climate Change A Case Study of Carbon-Based Governance.

(H2020 Global Reports
WP5.2
, pp. pp. 1-147
).
European Commission

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Abstract

Global greenhouse gas emissions are the main contributor to anthropocentrically-induced climate change and have risen 41% since 1990. We are still yet to reach peak emissions. A large share of those emissions result from private sector activity. At the same time, the private sector possesses major resources which should be harnessed to scale up funding and emissions reduction technologies to benefit the 3 climate. Since the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, there has been an upsurge in private sector activity on climate change, especially in the corporate sector. Researchers have suggested that this groundswell of private sector activity especially in reduction of carbon emissions holds out the promise of plugging conspicuous public governance gaps. But while this surge in private action since the Paris Climate Agreement is to be encouraged, and indeed has been formally welcomed by global public climate governance actors under the UNFCCC, the measurable success of private, public-private and “hybrid” climate governance arrangements on reducing emissions remains unclear. Through an in depth empirical investigation of the actors and initiatives that play a key role in this emerging domain of bottom-up climate change governance, this study finds that, despite a groundswell in private activity, zones of fragmentation among a multiplicity of private actors, initiatives and standards is stymying progress: while key actors are increasingly networked, key metrics remain severely fragmented; while substantial resources have been dedicated to governing carbon emissions, greenhouse gas emissions keep rising. These observations are demonstrated through an empirical analysis of the “carbon-based” governance regime, which we define as the governance of climate change through a unitary focus on carbon measurement, disclosure, and verification. So far, the ultimate goal of carbon-based governance to reduce emissions is far from being realized. Whether this regime can be repurposed to fulfil this crucial function remains an open question.

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