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Transparency and Accountability in Global Climate Governance, Aarti Gupta, Michael Mason


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A. Gupta (Wageningen University, Wageningen, Netherlands), at the Our Common Future Under Climate Change conference, July 7-10 in Paris, France.

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Transparency and Accountability in Global Climate Governance, Aarti Gupta, Michael Mason

  1. 1. 1 Transparency as governance: the politics of disclosure in a new climate agreement Aarti Gupta, Wageningen University Michael Mason, LSE Our Common Future Under Climate Change July 10, 2015
  2. 2. What is transparency?  Equated with: openness, opposite of secrecy, information flows, information disclosure…  Focus here: on disclosure based governance Governance by disclosure: Targeted disclosure of information intended to evaluate and/or steer the behavior of specific actors 2
  3. 3. 3 Anticipated governance effects of transparency?  Transparency is assumed to be key to more accountable, legitimate and effective (i.e. improved) governance outcomes  In the search for greater accountability, calls for more transparency are ever-present  Yet, does transparency rise to the occasion? A critical assessment of this is needed!
  4. 4. Assessing the transformative potential of transparency Critically analyzes uptake, institutionalization and effects of 10 cases of governance by disclosure in the global environmental realm 4
  5. 5. 5 Theorizing transparency in GEG: dominance of liberal institutionalism Liberal institutionalist perspectives:  To rationalize decision-making and correct informational asymmetries  “More and better” information will reveal what others do, thereby reduce conflict / enhance cooperation / build trust / enforce compliance  Shortfalls in disclosure-based governance are related to inadequacies of design or capacity
  6. 6. A critical political economy /science studies perspective Emphasizes broader, contested normative and political context of disclosure-based governance Disclosure scope and practices shaped by: – normative and scientific conflicts over what is valid information and whose information counts – geopolitical conflicts over who needs to disclose what to whom and why – dominance of neoliberalism (privileging privatized, decentralized, market-driven, voluntary approaches) Transparency is thus itself contested political terrain6
  7. 7. How playing out in ADP debates? Transparency in the “Geneva Text” with implications for Paris and beyond:  Confusing, one of the most difficult sections  Conflated with various related terms: reporting/review/ assessment/accounting/MRV  Caught up in broader differentiation conflicts  Central to new agreement (whatever legal form) 7
  8. 8. Transparency of action and support – I Transparency and differentiation / equity:  Who and how? From current bifurcated to a “common framework” (with or without flexibility)  What? Action and support: transparency of mitigation prioritized over other areas  When? Ex-ante, Ex-post 8
  9. 9. Transparency of action and support – II  Why? Enhance trust, enhance ambition, assess fairness, facilitate comparability Individual? Aggregate? e.g. Multilateral Assessment, first round. Lessons? 9
  10. 10. Conclusion: an eye on the prize Transparency is where the action is:  Top-down multilaterally negotiated element in new agreement = transparency  The (multilateral) geopolitics of combating climate change now playing out in realm of “reporting, review, accounting, MRV” 10
  11. 11. Transparency and private climate governance Voluntary carbon offset markets:  reliable information about (quality of) carbon offsets desired for accountability and environmental integrity reasons  … but increasingly becomes a valuable commodity in and of itself Voluntary carbon emission disclosure/CDP:  Who is empowered? Enhanced comparative analysis only available behind paywalls11
  12. 12. Thanks for your attention! If you are interested in this topic and would like a (free) copy of the book, please be in touch: Climate change-related chapters:  UNFCCC / REDD+  Carbon Disclosure Project 12