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Not only is the climate changing, but so is global climate governance. Climate policy initiatives have proliferated within and beyond the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) regime in a polycentric pattern. Nevertheless, promised action under the Paris Agreement (PA) is far from being sufficient to achieve its targets of keeping global warming below 2 °C. A special research focus has emerged on international ‘climate clubs’, referring to a smaller group’s greater ability to make progress in international climate policy compared to large global forums.
Against this background, our paper reflects on the club functions of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), a transnational partnership that aims at slowing the rate of near-term global warming through the reduction of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs). How does the CCAC contribute to global climate governance and how does this relate to existing structures, such as the UNFCCC process and the PA?
Researchers have generally found that climate clubs can raise ambition, produce emissions reductions, and/or enhance cooperation, while generating additional benefits for its members. However, their specific governance contribution remains rather opaque, for example, how emissions reductions are achieved. There is a lack of analytical application, knowledge of the political practice and of in-depth case studies of the clubs concept.
This paper contributes to filling this gap by applying central aspects of clubs research, namely membership and size, public goods, and the provision of additional benefits as an analytical framework in one in-depth case study of a governance initiative that has not yet been the subject of academic scrutiny: the CCAC. The results are based on expert interviews and the analysis of strategic and academic documents. Overall, this research finds that the CCAC’s largest contribution to global climate governance lies in preparing SLCP emissions reductions through raising awareness, orchestrating different actors and actions related to SLCPs, and establishing a large technical cooperation network. To some degree it also directly implements SLCP reduction projects. Ultimately, it complements the UNFCCC and especially the Paris Agreement. Members are part of the CCAC because its benefits go beyond climate change mitigation. Its large transnational membership constellation both supports and challenges its governance contribution.
Read this paper on the Nature website.