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Climate clubs: politically feasible and desirable?

Falkner, Robert ORCID: 0000-0001-9990-6926, Nasiritousi, Naghmeh and Reischl, Gunilla (2022) Climate clubs: politically feasible and desirable? Climate Policy, 22 (4). 480 - 487. ISSN 1469-3062

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Identification Number: 10.1080/14693062.2021.1967717


The idea of a stringent climate club, once the reserve of academic debates, is quickly gaining ground in international policy circles. This reflects dissatisfaction with the multilateral UNFCCC process, but also hope that a minilateral club could increase climate policy ambition, reinvigorate the Paris Agreement process, and make future emissions pledges stick. With the Biden Presidency renewing the US commitment toward climate action and the European Green Deal proposal for carbon border tariffs, some are advocating the creation of a transatlantic climate club. What could a club approach hope to achieve, and what do we know about its political feasibility and desirability? In this article, we seek conceptual clarification by establishing a typology of different club models; we inject a greater sense of political realism into current debates on the feasibility of these models; and we consider their legitimacy in the context of international climate cooperation. Key policy insights Knowledge gaps and confusion regarding the nature of climate clubs hold back debates about what intergovernmental clubs can contribute to international climate policy. Club design matters: existing club models vary in terms of the proposed size, purpose, operational principles, legal strength, and relationship to the UNFCCC. Clubs focused on normative commitments face low barriers to establishment. They lack legal strength but can help raise policy ambition. Clubs aimed at negotiating targets and measures can increase bargaining efficiency, but struggle to deal with equity and distributional conflicts. Clubs seeking to change incentives via club benefits and sanctions face the highest hurdles to implementation. Their promise to tackle free-riding remains untested and difficult to achieve. Climate clubs face an international legitimacy deficit. Any club proposal needs to consider how to add to, and not distract from, the multilateral climate regime.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2021 14:57
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2024 04:24

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