Global Governance for the Decarbonisation of Energy-intensive Industries: Exploring Sectoral Options
Sebastian Oberthür, Simon Otto
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Energy intensive industries (EIIs) account for about 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Accordingly, their decarbonisation is essential to achieve the mitigation goals of the Paris Agreement. At the same time, the transition of EIIs is hampered by crucial barriers such as high global competitiveness, long investment cycles and limited (market) availability of effective mitigation technologies. Global governance and sector specific initiatives offer great potential to address these barriers and increase the speed of industrial decarbonisation globally – a potential that has so far remained vastly underexploited. The paper aims at identifying and assessing in detail major options of global governance for closing the existing governance gap and advancing the decarbonisation of the main EIIs (i.e., steel, cement and concrete, chemicals, and aluminium). To this end, the paper proceeds in two major steps.
Building on and updating recent analysis on the global governance of EIIs, the paper first identifies existing gaps in the global governance of the transition of EIIs, by comparing the theoretical potential of global governance along six core governance functions (signal and guidance, rule setting, transparency and accountability, means of implementation, knowledge and learning, and orchestration and coordination) with the existing supply of global governance. It finds that, while supply remains limited, recently established global sectoral initiatives provide a promising basis for further enhancing governance, in particular regarding the functions of signal and guidance, as well as rule setting.
On this basis, the article proceeds in a second step to identifying and assessing concrete options for enhancing the global climate governance of EIIs to address the gaps identified and drive forward the transition to climate neutrality. It analyses if and how reforming existing institutions can address the identified governance gaps, before discussing the possible creation of new institutions to address remaining gaps (e.g. steel climate club). Several concrete sectoral governance options are presented and evaluated along the criteria of membership, institutional capacity and expertise, legitimacy/authority and feasibility of reform or creating new institutions. The analysis provides priorities and ‘feasible’ steps towards a better exploitation of the potential of global governance for the decarbonisation of EIIs that can drive forward the sector's transition to climate neutrality.
On the Road to Somewhere? Assessing Climate Governance Gaps and Options for the Land Transport Sector
Catherine Hall, Harro van Asselt
University of Eastern Finland
Notwithstanding its overall importance, the United Nations (UN) climate change regime has so far played a limited role in driving sectoral transformations towards climate neutrality. However, the challenges and opportunities for sectoral transformations, as well as the need for, and potential of, international governance, differ across varying sectoral systems. Land transport is a major emitter of greenhouse gas emissions, and one of the most difficult sectors to decarbonise. Emissions from the land transport sector are projected to rise, with almost all transport activity continuing to rely on fossil-fuel powered internal combustion engines.
Against this background, this paper assesses the extent to which international governance can help promote the transformation towards sustainability and decarbonisation in the land transport sector. It first identifies the key challenges and barriers to sectoral decarbonisation in land transport, as well as any unexploited potentials. The paper then examines the potential of existing international and transnational institutions (including both intergovernmental forums such as the UN climate regime and transnational governance arrangements such as the SLoCaT Partnership) by mapping them against six key governance functions, namely: (1) guidance and signal, (2) rules and standards, (3) transparency and accountability, (4) means of implementation (5) knowledge and learning, and (6) orchestration. The paper accordingly analyses the existing governance landscape to identify to what extent current institutions have been exploiting these governance potentials.
The paper finds that the overall international governance potential in the area of sustainable mobility remains underexploited. For example, the potential for providing transparency and accountability has only been exploited in some respects. The UN climate regime pays little attention to sector-specific developments, despite its comprehensive reporting obligations. Moreover, transport-specific tracking frameworks from other institutions are voluntary in nature and do not track the extent to which national public transport spending supports high or low emission pathways. The paper therefore explores how international governance may be enhanced in the land transport sector. Specifically, the paper will explore the potential of a transformational climate club focused on electric mobility to bridge some of the governance gaps. The paper draws on a review of available policy documents (including outputs from relevant international and transnational institutions), as well as secondary literature. The findings from this review are complemented by sectoral stakeholder interviews to identify options for institutional reform and the prospects of a climate club in the land transport sector.
Governance landscape and challenges in the Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use sector for climate change mitigation
Adrián Vidal, María José Sanz, Silvestre García de Jalón, Dirk-Jan Van de Ven
Basque Centre for Climate Change
Land-based activities are increasingly acknowledged for their important ongoing and potential contributions to the Paris Agreement’s mitigation target of reaching carbon neutrality in the second half of this century by reducing emissions and increasing removals from the sector, as well as by its capacity to produce biomass to substitute carbon-intensive products. Land use also plays an important role in short- and medium-term mitigation targets set out in countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). At the same time, land is a critical resource for multiple developmental and environmental objectives, providing food, fodder, fibre, fuel, and a multitude of other goods and ecosystem services that are fundamental to human well-being. Due to its finite nature, land is subject to competition among these different uses and objectives, and good governance of land is therefore fundamental to ensure socially and environmentally sound arbitrages among them. More specifically, the way land is accessed, managed and controlled plays a key role in ensuring sustainable social and economic development, peace and environmental justice. In this context, climate change mitigation must be compatible with the preservation of other ecosystem services and respect for local communities’ rights, which requires a multiscale and fit-for-purpose governance structure. Despite some recent progress, land governance structures largely lack the capacity to adequately ensure that land is used to achieve a multitude of the objectives listed above.
This paper will assess existing AFOLU governance instruments to enhance ambition and implementation of NDCs while integrating environmental and developmental objectives other than mitigation, and study the barriers and possible solutions to the governance gaps that are identified. To do this, we will begin by reviewing relevant literature and interviewing stakeholders and experts on AFOLU governance. Second, we will discuss the key governance objectives in AFOLU. Third, we will map the current governance landscape in AFOLU and assess the extent to which existing institutions and instruments are able to address climate change mitigation according to the identified objectives, as well as the challenges and barriers to said purpose, exploring remaining gaps and unexploited potentials. Last, we will explore and discuss different options to bridge these governance gaps - including reforming existing institutions, creating new ones, or improving the coordination across existing institutional arrangements - building on previous research and considering linkages between AFOLU and other sectors.
Pathways to an International Agreement to Leave Fossil Fuels in the Ground
Harro van Asselt1, Peter Newell2
1University of Eastern Finland; 2University of Sussex
Fossil fuels - coal, oil, and gas - are the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. To achieve the long-term temperature goals set by the 2015 Paris Agreement, fossil fuel production cannot continue to proceed unabated. Limits need to be set on expansion and a process agreed for managing decline of existing investments and infrastructures. Acknowledging the linkages between fossil fuel production and climate change, a growing number of countries have begun to take measures to restrict fossil fuel supply, including moratoria, extraction taxes and reforms of fossil fuel producer subsidies. While such supply-side measures can offer an important complement to traditional, demand-oriented climate policies, their effectiveness would be strengthened by international cooperation. International cooperation can help build trust that other countries are taking action, avoid leakage effects, and ensure a fair and equitable transition away from fossil fuel production. International institutions can help by setting overall goals, putting in place mechanisms to strengthen transparency and accountability, offering capacity-building, financial, and technological support, and disseminating information, allowing for learning across countries.
However, there is a dearth of international governance arrangements focusing on the climate impacts of fossil fuel production, with the international climate regime only offering limited guidance to states and non-state actors. Nevertheless, with the launch of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance at the Glasgow Climate Conference in 2021, international cooperation on fossil fuel production is beginning to emerge. Academics and civil society organisations, in the meantime, are calling for a specific ‘fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty’ to complement the Paris Agreement.
An outstanding question is how international cooperation could evolve to bring about a managed decline of fossil fuel production. This paper explores two possible pathways – one following a club model, and the other more akin to a multilateral environmental agreement. Specifically, the paper discusses the participants in an international agreement, the forum through which cooperation will take place, the modalities, principles and procedures underpinning an agreement, and the incentives to induce cooperation. The paper concludes that the most likely scenario at this juncture is the emergence of club arrangements covering particular fossil fuel sources and groups of actors which, over time, can give rise to a more coordinated and multilateral response.
Mapping the Multilevel and Multi-actor Governance Architecture of Shipping Emissions
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway
The climate agreements of Kyoto, Paris, and now Glasgow all avoided tackling the problem of climate emissions emanating from shipping, instead assigning the responsibility for this to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the recognized international organization governing the shipping sector. However, the governance architecture of shipping is highly complex, made up of a collection of actors and structures, at the center of which stands the IMO. What is the architecture of the international shipping regime and how does this affect the process of policy change?
The IMO began as a technical organization based in international treaties. Over time, however, it has added competencies to address the environmental challenges as agreed in the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) and in regard to emissions, Annex VI. Today the IMO is the center of multi-level and multi-actor maritime governance, involving nation-states, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), industry associations and classification societies. This complex governance architecture may present challenges, or opportunities, for actors seeking to influence standards and regulations for emission reductions in shipping. Within this fragmented governance system, some of these actors have become active policy innovators, while others have served as brakes on the process of change.
As an international organization, the rules, standards, and regulations that the member states of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopt apply as a global standard. This has led some scholars to apply the policy literature to maritime governance and the IMO. Yet little academic research has been done on policy change within the global governance architecture of shipping.
The emissions issues are dealt with in the Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC), it is within this body of the IMO that the members’ positions are presented and debated. Consequently, this paper proposes to identify the organizations, the key actors and the policy flow that were most influential in shipping emissions issue area by examining the submissions to the MEPC by IMO member states, IGOs and NGOs who hold voting or observer status at the IMO. Beyond MEPC submissions, public statements and data from their websites will be used to categorize the actors, where they act and map the policy flows between the multi-levels. As the global climate governance seeks to address the urgent needs of climate change, this novel research provides insights into how policy change occurs in this changing complex governance.
Pathways to carbon neutrality: examining political implications of decarbonization
Gunilla Reischl1, Alexandra Buylova2, Naghmeh Nasiritousi1,2
1Swedish Institute of International Affairs, Sweden; 2Stockholm University, Sweden
Achieving carbon neutrality and meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement require fundamental transformations in societies around the world. Around 50 countries have to date submitted long-term decarbonization strategies including net-zero goals to the UNFCCC. Should countries’ decarbonization plans be ambitious and properly implemented, it raises questions about the consequences of transformation. Consequences could range from democratic energy development to competing agendas and political struggles. The uncertainties surrounding transformation is often lacking in academic analysis and these issues have only just begun to be explored in the transition literature. Drawing on literature from the fields of political science and socio-technical transition, we study countries’ long-term decarbonization strategies to examine how countries perceive and interpret the potentials and challenges of accelerated transitions. In comparing the long-term plans of countries, the paper explores benefits, uncertainties, and risks with the transformation. In addition, we draw on semi-structured interviews with government officials and climate and energy experts in select countries to obtain insights into their views on the prospects for achieving ambitious climate action in their jurisdictions and beyond. We probe what they see as enabling and constraining factors in implementing their long-term plans, as well as their views on the political, societal, economic and technological consequences of implementing these plans. Taken together, this generates insights on key uncertainties and evaluate viable pathways to decarbonisation. This paper thereby contributes to a deeper understanding of transition pathways by examining political implications of decarbonization.