Table of Contents

Research Handbook on Climate Governance

Research Handbook on Climate Governance

Edited by Karin Bäckstrand and Eva Lövbrand

The 2009 United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen is often represented as a watershed in global climate politics, when the diplomatic efforts to negotiate a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol failed and was replaced by a fragmented and decentralized climate governance order. In the post-Copenhagen landscape the top-down universal approach to climate governance has gradually given way to a more complex, hybrid and dispersed political landscape involving multiple actors, arenas and sites. The Handbook contains contributions from more than 50 internationally leading scholars and explores the latest trends and theoretical developments of the climate governance scholarship.

Climate governance after Copenhagen: research trends and policy practice

Karin Bäckstrand and Eva Lövbrand

Subjects: environment, climate change, environmental governance and regulation, environmental politics and policy, politics and public policy, environmental governance and regulation


Climate change is unprecedented with respect to scale, severity and complexity. Like no other environmental problem it unsettles contemporary society and calls into question the ways in which we collectively have come to organize and conduct social and political life in the twenty-first century. The elevated concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are intimately linked to the rise of industrial capitalism and are today fuelled by globalized patterns of production, consumption and trade. While the causes and effects of human-induced climate change are local and directly tied to everyday urban and rural life, the biogeochemical drivers of a changing climate are global and stretched out over long time periods. Given these complicated spatial and temporal dynamics, climate change has proven inherently difficult to govern. As the collective action problem par excellence, climate change has since the late 1980s spurred a plethora of state-led, private and hybrid governance activities across multiple jurisdictional, administrative and political levels. Although these activities currently are intensifying in scale and scope, we are regularly told that the political response to climate change remains inadequate. In October 2014, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that global greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, global mean temperatures are on the rise, glacial ice caps are melting and weather extremes are more frequent (IPCC 2014).