Regime Effectiveness

In Karin Bäckstrand and Eva Løvbrand (eds), Research Handbook on Climate Governance. Cheltenham, Edward Elgar, 2015, pp. 425-435.

Initially the UN climate regime was fairly dynamic in terms of institution building and the Kyoto Protocol was the result of a joint and creative effort primarily by the EU and the US. However its narrow scope in terms of targeting emissions commitments has grown increasingly obsolete as the brunt of emissions emanate from the countries in the South. From a problem solving perspective the effectiveness of the climate regime has therefore been exceedingly low. The main explanation is the very malign nature of the problem. However, as noted, institutional design also makes a negative difference.This development has necessitaed a change from a narrow top-down approach to an all inclusive bottom-up approach. This more unruly and clumsy approach may at first glance seem to be a step back from the more elegant top-down approach. Given the necessity to engage the emerging economies, however, it may be the only way forward. Still, this approach is no guarantee that the steep rise in emissions will slow down much. Strong review mechanisms are needed and not the least more political will to act by the major emitters.