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LEDS and the rise of Non-State Actors: Where, who and what


Climate action by cities, regions, companies and NGOs has reinvigorated the debate on global climate governance in the run up to the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris. Collaborative initiatives such as the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and the ‘We Mean Business‘ coalition engage an impressive number of actors committing to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Their actions could represent significant, enhanced and scaled-up efforts to bring untapped mitigation potential to fruition, should they succeed in achieving these commitments. The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) estimates the potential of mitigation from sub-national action to nearly 3 Gt of CO2 equivalent – just 0.7 Gt less than total EU’s emissions in 2014. This shows that non-state actors (NSAs) could help close the ambition gap between the national pledges and the decarbonization pathway, which leaves us with a reasonable chance to stop warming at 2 degrees Celsius.

In this webinar, Dr. Phillip Pattberg, a professor of Transnational Environmental Governance and Policy at the Institute for Environmental Studies at the VU University Amsterdam and Dr. Oscar Widerberg, a researcher also with the Institute for Environmental Studies, VU University Amsterdam, take a closer look at the commitments made by sub-national NSAs of cities, regions and companies.

First, they present the results from their research on a large dataset collected on city-networks. Is the increase in initiatives really a global phenomenon or is it more concentrated to pockets of developed country regions? Who are the key actors and where are the overlaps between networks? Why are some cities extremely active whereas others are not? The commitments of cities and regions are examined in detail to understand what they actually sign up to undertake.

Second, they take a closer look at the private sector: companies and their networks. Why and how are companies engaging in global climate governance? Who and where who are they? The companies are also analyzed in terms of GHG emissions to see whether there is enough potential for the initiatives to make a difference.

Third, they discuss what the emergence of non-state actors means for the overall climate regime. What are the challenges and opportunities for harnessing and integrating the great potentials? Should cities, companies and other sub-national NSAs be more formally integrated in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)? And what options do we have moving towards Paris and beyond?

Watch the webinar below, or download the slideshow.

Phillip Pattberg is the professor of Transnational Environmental Governance and the deputy head of the Department of Environmental Policy Analysis (EPA) at the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) of the VU University Amsterdam. Within the Netherlands, at the Research School for Socio-Economic and Natural Sciences of the Environment (SENSE), he coordinates the research cluster on global environmental governance and politics. He is also the Chair of the Board of the Global Environmental Change Section of the German Political Science Association (DVPW) and a senior research fellow of the international Earth System Governance Project (ESGP).

Oscar Widerberg is a researcher at the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) of the VU University Amsterdam where he works on global climate policy, fragmentation in global governance, and network theory. He has published work on climate clubs, city and company climate actions, public-private partnerships, and presented works on transnational climate action at, among others, the UNFCCC. He is a research fellow of the Earth System Governance and a core member of the CONNECT-project. Oscar also works as an associate consultant with Trinomics.