Research Handbook on Climate Governance
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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.
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Chapter 22: NGOs

Michele Betsill


This chapter argues that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) play three distinct but overlapping roles in global climate governance. NGOs are defined as non-profit organizations that are independent of government, do not advocate violence and seek to advance public goals. As activists, they raise public awareness and put pressure on governments, corporations and local communities to take more aggressive steps to reduce their carbon footprint or adapt to the impacts of climate change. In recent years, the climate justice movement has employed contentious politics to advance a more radical activist agenda calling for broad structural changes to the global economy. As diplomats, NGOs represent constituencies bound together by common values, knowledge or interests and work closely with governments to craft specific policies for climate action. As global governors, many NGOs take it upon themselves to steer society toward a low-carbon future by creating new forms of NGO-led governance.

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