20 Years of global climate change governance research: taking stock and moving forward

PH Pattberg, Cille Kaiser, OE Widerberg, Johannes Stripple

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Research on global climate change governance is no longer primarily concerned with the international legal regime, state practice and its outcomes, but rather scrutinizes the intricate interactions between the public and the private in governing climate change. This broad trend has also taken center stage within the pages of INEA. Two decades after its establishment, we sketch the main theoretical debates, conceptual innovations and empirical findings on global climate change governance and survey the new generation of climate governance scholarship. In more detail, we sketch how climate governance research has developed into three innovative sub-debates, building on important conceptualizations and critical inquiries of earlier debates. Our aim is not so much to provide an all-encompassing assessment of global climate change governance scholarship in 2022, but rather to illustrate in what important ways current research is different from research in the early phase of INEA, and what we have learned in the process. First, we discuss scholarship on the bottom-up nature of climate governance, developing from earlier ideas on agency beyond the state and the transnationalization of governance arenas. Second, we review contributions that have more systematically engaged with the concept of governance architectures, resulting in a stimulating new academic debate on the characteristics of complex governance systems and the consequences of governance complexity and fragmentation. Third, we note a distinct normative turn in global environmental scholarship in general and global climate governance in particular, associated with question of access, accountability, allocation, fairness, justice and legitimacy. The assessment of each of these debates is centered around questions of effective and legitimate climate governance to counter the climate emergency. Finally, as a way of concluding, we critically reflect on our own scholarly shortcomings and suggest a modest remedy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Environmental Agreements : Politics Law and Economics
Issue number2
Early online date3 Mar 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Mar 2022


Dive into the research topics of '20 Years of global climate change governance research: taking stock and moving forward'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this