In political ecology and environmental policy, climate governance is the diplomacy, mechanisms and response measures "aimed at steering social systems towards preventing, mitigating or adapting to the risks posed by climate change". A definitive interpretation is complicated by the wide range of political and social science traditions (including comparative politics, political economy and multilevel governance) that are engaged in conceiving and analysing climate governance at different levels and across different arenas. In academia, climate governance has become the concern of geographers, anthropologists, economists and business studies scholars.
This article needs to be updated. (July 2020)
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In the past two decades a paradox has arisen between rising awareness about the causes and consequences of climate change and an increasing concern that the issues that surround it represent an intractable problem. Initially, climate change was approached as a global issue, and climate governance sought to address it on the international stage. This took the form of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs), beginning with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992. With the exception of the Kyoto Protocol, international agreements between nations have been largely ineffective in achieving legally binding emissions cuts and with the end of the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period in 2012, starting from 2013 there is no legally binding global climate regime. This inertia on the international political stage contributed to alternative political narratives that called for more flexible, cost effective and participatory approaches to addressing the multifarious problems of climate change. These narratives relate to the increasing diversity of methods that are being developed and deployed across the field of climate governance.