restricted access 7. Transnational Governance Experiments
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7 Transnational Governance Experiments Harriet Bulkeley, Matthew J. Hoffmann, Stacy D. VanDeveer, and Victoria Milledge In this chapter, we develop an account of transnational governance that moves beyond specific forms of private regimes (Pattberg, this book, chapter 5) and public-private partnerships (Bäckstrand et al., this book, chapter 6) to encompass what we term transnational governance experiments . Empirically, it is clear that a growing array of more or less institutionalized forms of transnational governance are emerging that are not captured within these frameworks, and that they are contributing to the growing diversity and fragmentation of the global governance landscape. Actors that used to orient themselves toward traditional multilateral governance mechanisms are now experimenting with new arrangements. Yet in the midst of experimentation, a prominent feature of many of these initiatives is their basis in established market principles (e.g., of economic efficiency) and the use of market mechanisms (e.g., cap-andtrade schemes) as a means of governing the actions of private and public actors. This chapter examines this phenomenon of growing transnational governance experimentation through markets (Hoffmann 2007, 2011), focusing in particular on the issue of climate change. First, we consider how such experiments might be conceptualized. The following section examines transnational governance experiments in the climate change arena, focusing in particular on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers Climate Change Action Plan, and initiatives that are being established in order to foster the emergence of the voluntary offset carbon market. Then, the chapter explains the emergence of climate change governance experiments before the final section outlines some implications of such experiments and some possible directions for continuing research in this area. 150 Harriet Bulkeley, et al. Conceptualization The notion of transnational governance experiments and experimentation emerges from advances in the broader transnational governance literature chronicled in chapters 1 and 5 of this book. This recent and growing area of study outlines what counts as transnational governance— who participates and what modes of governance constitute this phenomenon . In this chapter, we focus on another aspect of this phenomenon: its experimental character. Why speak of emergent “transnational governance experiments”? One of the reasons for the diversity of approaches that have been developed to conceptualize transnational governance (Pattberg, this book, chapter 5; Bäckstrand et al., this book, chapter 6) can be found in the sheer variety of initiatives taking place and in the multiple factors that have influenced their emergence. Given the amount of analytical attention that has been paid to transnational environmental governance, especially in the area of climate change, it is fair to inquire as to the value added in defining and examining experimentation as a significant aspect of transnational environmental governance. Not all transnational governance processes are experimental. So which are, and why does it matter? The notion of experimentation highlights two facets of some transnational governance arrangements. First, governance experiments implicitly or explicitly give a sense of a process of trial and error going on in environmental governance: the actors and modes of governance discussed previously are combining in innovative ways in an attempt to govern environmental problems. This may be implicit in that actors are not consciously setting out to experiment but rather merely to try to find practical solutions to problems (environmental, political, economic, or organizational) that they face. From the vantage point of an external observer, however, such actions can appear experimental. Experimentation can also be explicit. Some actors, having come to the conclusion that traditional governance mechanisms (transnational or otherwise) cannot provide the institutional setting they desire, consciously experiment with new ones. The US Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, along with various US state and Canadian province climate initiatives, are illustrative of this tendency. Second, and perhaps more important analytically, transnational governance experiments are constructed in an institutional vacuum. For some, transnational governance in all its forms emerges in the political Transnational Governance Experiments 151 spaces created by the absence of international regimes and nation states. For example, Visseren-Hamakers and Glasbergen (2007, 409) argue that such initiatives “fill in what governments are not (yet) willing or able to regulate, sometimes to outplay them and to prevent the governments from taking action, and sometimes to show alternatives for public governance or to challenge it to take up more thorough public action.” For others, it is not the lack of governance by other means but rather issues of governance failure or implementation deficit that transnational initiatives seek to address (Kolk and Pinkse 2008; Biermann, Mol...


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Subject Headings

  • Environmental policy -- International cooperation.
  • Environmental responsiblity -- International cooperaiton.
  • Global environmental changes.
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