Experiments in climate governance – A systematic review of research on energy and built environment transitions

Paula Kivimaa*, Mikael Hildén, Dave Huitema, Andrew Jordan, Jens Newig

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Experimentation has been proposed as a key way in which governance drives sustainability transitions, notably by creating space for innovative solutions to emerge. In seeking to bring greater coherence to the literatures on climate and sustainability governance experiments, this article reports on a systematic review of articles published between 2009 and 2015. Based on these results a new definition and typology of climate governance experiments is suggested. The typology distinguishes between the various purposes experiments can have, including niche creation, market creation, spatial development, and societal problem solving. It deepens the understanding of the diversity in experimenting by highlighting the salient features of different types of governance experiments. It can therefore guide future research to generate more cumulative research findings contributing to a better understanding of the role and outcomes of experiments in societal transitions. The findings also suggest that real transitions towards low-carbon and climate-resilient societies will require a systematic deliberate combination of different types of experiments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-29
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2017


We thank Visa Kivisaari for providing assistance in article coding and two anonymous reviewers of the SPRU working paper series and four journal reviewers. Previous versions were presented at a COST funded INOGOV workshop in Helsinki 12–13 March 2014 and the International Sustainability Transitions Conference in Brighton 25–29 August 2015. The work was supported by the UK EPSRC through the Centre for Innovation and Energy Demand (CIED; http://cied.ac.uk /; grant number EP/KO11790/1 ) and the Academy of Finland (grant numbers 286230 , 259929 and 293405 ). The systemic review used scholarly articles as secondary data, listed in Appendix 2 that can be accessed through their publishing journals.

FundersFunder number
Centre for Innovation and Energy DemandEP/KO11790/1
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research CouncilEP/K011790/1
Academy of Finland293405, 259929, 286230


    • Climate governance
    • Climate policy
    • Experimentation
    • Governance experiments
    • Governance innovation
    • Transitions


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