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.

Chapter 39: Transparency

Aarti Gupta and Michael Mason

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


Transparency, as information disclosure, is becoming a widely accepted norm and set of practices in global climate governance. Disclosure of climate-related information is mainly seen as a way to monitor and/or reward various actors’ climate mitigation actions, thereby contributing, at least in principle, to the accountability both of private disclosers for their (non-)performance, and also of public policymakers for the reach and effectiveness of governance outcomes. Transparency’s transformative effects in global climate governance remain particularly important to consider, given the increasingly heterogeneous and fragmented nature of such governance—encompassing treaties, transnational municipal networks, subnational actors, bilateral agreements and voluntary corporate initiatives. In assessing the transformative potential of transparency in the climate realm, this chapter focuses, first, on contentious debates within the UNFCCC around measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) systems that seek to make transparent who is doing what, how, and to what end in combating climate change. Second, the focus is on private carbon disclosure initiatives and transparency arrangements that underpin voluntary carbon offset markets. The chapter concludes that the transformative potential of transparency is being compromised by an increasing privatization and marketization of disclosure initiatives in the climate realm.

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