Special issue in Earth System Governance on sectoral approaches to climate governance
A new special issue of the Earth System Governance journal advances a sectoral approach to analysing global climate governance. The editors, including the NDC ASPECTS participants Sebastian Oberthür and Lukas Hermwille, argue that the analysis of international cooperation on climate change should reflect the diverse characteristics of different sectoral systems: international climate policy is not confronted with one cooperation problem but with a variety of sectorally differentiated challenges. This approach will also form the backbone of governance analysis in NDC ASPECTS.
In addition to the conceptual introduction and a concluding article synthesising the findings, the SI contains analyses of global governance of the following sectors: fossil fuel extractives, power, energy-intensive industries, land transport, and international aviation and shipping. Each sectoral analysis investigates the potential and actual contribution of global governance to advance decarbonisation according to five governance functions: (1) guidance & signal, (2) rules & standards, (3) transparency & accountability, (4) means of implementation, and (5) knowledge & learning.
For fossil fuel extractive industries, Rayner (2021) sees slow progress in deciding what resources are ‘unburnable’, and handling associated equity-related, geo-political conflicts, while consensus on rules to guide subsidy reform is elusive.
Analysing the power sector, Hermwille (2021) shows that the ‘governance supply’ is relatively the most advanced, but guidance and signal for the phase-out of fossil fuel use, especially fossil gas, remains ambiguous.
For energy-intensive industries, Oberthür et al. (2021) show a particular dearth of international institutions with an especially lamentable undersupply of rules and standards.
For land transport, Obergassel et al. (2021) attest that global governance currently does little to challenge dominant planning paradigms, shift resources to sustainable modes, or advance sectoral targets and strategies.
For international aviation & shipping, Rayner (2021) reports patchy progress and a concerning degree of reliance on out-of-sector offsets. The potential of other market-based or speed-limiting instruments remains underexploited.
Rayner et al. (2021) synthesize key findings, arguing that the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement are likely insufficient for advancing effective sectoral governance, and lay out directions for future research.
A concluding commentary by Torres Gunfaus and Waisman (2021) places the assessment offered in the SI in the broader context of a comprehensive framework for assessing the adequacy of the global response to meet the Paris Agreement’s long-term goals.
This special journal issue is a result of the COP21 RIPPLES project funded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 730427. For more information visit https://www.cop21ripples.eu/