Alternate Structures for Global Climate Action

Project Leads: Richard Stewart, Bryce Rudyk & Michael Oppenheimer

As a result of failures over many years to reach an encompassing international agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions, there is increasing recognition of serious problems in basic design features of the sole global climate change architecture, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This recognition has provoked calls over the past few years about bottom up strategies for climate. Yet, there has been little serious and sustained work on the necessary characteristics of bottom up regimes that will avoid the structural failings of the UNFCCC.

This project is designed to contribute to the work of building alternative, more diverse, less centralized global climate architecture. It will consider three strategies for structuring bottom up regimes, which we call a “building block approach.” These strategies aim to build transnational regulatory regimes, involving a limited number of public and/or private actors who undertake activities, often for reasons other than achieving greenhouse gas reductions, that achieve significant greenhouse gas reductions as a co-benefit. These strategies aim to complement the UNFCCC rather than serve as a substitute.

A focal point of analysis for the building block approach is maritime transportation. Greenhouse gas emissions from international maritime transportation remain unregulated and progress towards the regulation of these emissions at the international level has been limited. As a result, there is a need to explore regional, bilateral, and even private strategies to move forward. To study these issues, the Guarini Center and Center for Enterprise Liability at the University of Copenhagen launched the “Transatlantic Maritime Research Network” in January of 2016.  More information about TRAMAREN, including membership and upcoming events, can be found here.