Start Small Then Go Big: Clinton Climate Initiative

GHG Emissions for C Cities

Chapter 3 of “Governing Climate Change” starts out with the statement “…climate change is an issue of concern not only on international and national agenda, but also for an array of transnational networks.”[1] So many transnational networks are being created with the purpose of addressing climate change. One of these many transnational networks is the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI). Former President Bill Clinton launched this initiative in 2006 with the expectation of fighting climate change in realistic and effective ways. CCI works with major large cities on a global scale to find potential solutions that will reduce carbon emissions and increase energy efficiency.[2]


GHG Emissions for C40 Cities
GHG Emissions for C40 Cities

The four basic programs that the CCI is currently involved in are the Climate Leadership Group (C40), Forestry Program, Islands Energy Program, and the Energy Efficiency Program. C40 was first taken up by the CCI in 2007. “Activities which this network is undertaking include collaboration with Microsoft to produce software for greenhouse gas emissions accounting at the city scale, and the Energy Efficiency Building Retrofit Program, which “brings together cities, building owners, banks, and energy-service companies to make changes to existing buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”[3] It has the goal of committing sustainable activities that are intended to reduce climate change on a global scale. Every area of the world is equally represented in C40’s goals by being based in almost all of the continents.

Oddar Forest Meanchey Community
Oddar Forest Meanchey Community

The Forestry Program works with governments and communities in developing countries to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by creating sustainable resolutions for managing forests and lands.  The goal of this program is to provide developing countries with the information and resources to improve land use.  They do this by reducing carbon emissions by planting trees, improving farming practices, and building carbon measurement systems.[4]  The Islands Energy Program is partnered with governments of twenty-five island nations.  Its purpose is to develop renewable energy projects, and design and implement waste/water solutions that will cut fossil fuel usage.


Empire State Building
Empire State Building



The Energy Efficiency Program works to discover the obstacles to achieving a huge reduction in the amount of energy used by buildings. “In fact in the United States commercial and residential buildings accounted for over 40 percent of primary energy consumption.”[5] That is a huge amount of energy consumption.  The program works with public and private organizations, not limited to corporations, governments, and fellow non-profits.


According to Bulkeley and Newell, the boundaries between private and public actors in transnational climate governance are increasingly indistinct.  Transnational networks such as the CCI actually helped increase the outline of municipal responses to climate change internationally.[6]  In order to prevent climate change, the Clinton Climate Initiative operates in cooperation with companies, political groups and nonprofit organizations that aim to protect the environment.  The first step begins with local communities, proceeds to spread to countries and then makes its way to have an effect on a global scale.  You have to start small then go big.

















[1] Bulkeley, Harriet, and Peter Newell. Governing Climate Change. London: Routledge, 2010. 54, Print

[2] LearnStuff. Clinton Climate Initiative – LearnStuff. Web accessed September 2014.

[3] Ibid, 60.

[4] Clinton Foundation. Clinton Climate Initiative. Web accessed September 2014.

[5] Clinton Foundation. Clinton Climate Initiative. Web accessed September 2014.

[6] Ibid, 60.

The Climate Alliance: Linking European Municipalities to Indigenous Amazonians

The Kyoto Protocol, adopted in 1997, was an international agreement by sovereign nation states to commit to legally binding emissions reduction targets. While this was a big step forward for climate change governance, it did not bind all countries in the world to reduce their global emissions, only certain developed countries, because it was argued that developing countries were not responsible for the current problem and did not have the infrastructure to implement mitigation efforts. But in recent years, the GHG emissions of developing countries have surpassed those of developed countries. For example, in 2008 China was the top emitter of any country in the world, with India in third. And the US, the most powerful country and the 2nd largest GHG emitter in the world, did not join the Kyoto Protocol and is not bound by it (Global Emissions). Furthermore, nation-states are often limited as to how directly they are able to influence carbon emissions in their country. Much of the time, it is non-state actors, such as multinational corporations or individual consumers, that most directly influence the amount of carbon emissions (Bulkeley and Newell 8).

As people began to realize some of the failures and limitations of the Kyoto Protocol and the UNFCCC, they began to form non-state organizations and networks working across borders to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Municipalities, provinces and corporations formed various transnational governance organizations and networks to try and influence international governance and promote change at the community level (Bulkeley and Newell 54). One of these transnational networks is the Climate Alliance and was actually formed before the Kyoto Protocol went into effect (Bulkeley and Newell 55). The Climate Alliance has been very effective in advancing its objectives and reaching its goals. It has contributed to the exchange of information about local climate policy, coordinated projects devoted to indigenous rights, and has prompted CO2 emissions reductions in numerous European municipalities (Welcome).

The Climate Alliance, officially called The Climate Alliance of European Cities with Indigenous Rainforest Peoples, was created in 1990 and consists of 1,700 cities, municipalities and districts. It is partnered with the Coordinating Body for the Indigenous Peoples Organization of the Amazon Basin (COICA). COICA represents the interests of indigenous peoples in the functions of the climate alliance (Climate Profile).

The Climate Alliance was formed for the main purpose of supporting indigenous peoples and their rights in the Amazon Basin. The organization goes about this is in a variety of ways, one of which is by calling for ratification of ILO Convention No. 169, an international norm put forth by the International Labor Organization guaranteeing the legally binding protection of the basic rights of indigenous peoples. The alliance also participates in the ad-hoc working group formed at the 4th Conference of the Parties to the Convention of Biological Diversity, which addresses issues surrounding the preservation of “traditional knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous peoples”, and “respect[ing], preserv[ing] and maintain[ing] the sustainable use of biological diversity (What is the ILO?, Convention). European members of The Climate Alliance also bind themselves to certain greenhouse gas emissions reductions, support dialogues among indigenous peoples and governments and corporations, and abstain from the municipal procurement of tropical timber derived from destructive logging, and support other policies and measures for the protection of tropical rainforests and biodiversity (Our Objectives). Also, if the association for whatever reason dissolves, the funds, instead of going to states, serve non-profit purposes and goes to support projects in rainforests (Article 2). In the more political sphere, the Climate Alliance represents member European municipalities in events organized by the European Commission, and also influences decisions made by the EU institutions to strengthen the role of local authorities in climate change policy (European Policy).

In action, The Climate Alliance has been very effective in implementing many of its ideals. It has supported a project for the assembly of mobile solar lamps and modules, which will replace petroleum lamps in the Peruvian rainforest. This will not only help to cut down on CO2 emissions and health problems resulting from the petroleum lamps, but also improve the living conditions of indigenous communities and support renewable sources of energy (Solar Partnerships). Other things the climate alliance has done include representing both European municipalities and indigenous organizations in international forums, such as the UNFCCC, and working to secure indigenous rights surrounding such areas as reforestation measures and providing legal aid for indigenous organizations under attack from logging companies and oil corporations (International Policy, Cooperations and Projects). The most obvious instances of this happening are in Sarayaku, Ecuador, when The Climate Alliance provided legal aid and advice to the community after the government attempted to partition the community’s land between various oil companies. Protests and resistance from the community halted drilling, and there are currently ongoing debates over land and mining rights, although in 1998 the constitutional court recognized that “oil exploitation violated the rights of indigenous peoples” (Sarayaku). In the realm of reforestation, The Climate Alliance has raised awareness in indigenous groups, including COICA, about the dangers of these reforestation efforts, and subsequently disseminated information and held seminars for indigenous peoples to prepare for upcoming climate talks about the issue (Indigene Peoples).

The Climate Alliance also provides an information exchange about tools and recommendations for local climate policy through conferences and publications, and also showcases its members’ achievements in various databases (climate alliance activities). In the realm of CO2 emissions in European municipalities, a lot of good progress has been made. Liepzig, Germany has reduced its tons of C02 emission per resident from 11,315 tons in 1990 to 6,150 tons in 2005, a reduction of almost half. Langenegg, Austria is currently meeting the heating demand of municipal buildings 98.5% through renewable resources (Germany). Other municipalities have made great progress also, and all municipalities in the Climate Alliance have pledged to cut their per capita emissions by half by 2030 (Our Objectives).

In the aftermath of the Kyoto Protocol, many transnational organizations and networks, including The Climate Alliance, sprang up in reaction to perceived failure within the Protocol and the UNFCCC. The Climate Alliance, an organization dedicated to the protection of the world’s climate and indigenous rights in the Amazon Basin, has been effective in advancing its objectives and picking up the slack from international climate governance between nation states. It has protected indigenous communities from destruction by oil corporations and loggers and reduced GHG emissions in both Europe and the Amazon, all while promoting information exchange between municipalities about local climate policy. This shows that transnational networks and organization can be very useful in supporting and informing policy at the local level, which is important because this is one of the most important levels for behavior and policy change to happen. If effective climate policies are wanted, community involvement is necessary, because they are able to work on a more manageable scale and are able to understand local circumstances and obstacles to policy change better than a representative working at the national or international level (Bulkeley and Newell 73).



Works Cited

Bulkeley, Harriet, and Peter Newell. Governing Climate Change. London: Routledge, 2010. Print.

The Climate Alliance. “Article 2: The Purpose of the Association.” Statutes. Proc. of Assemble of 30th March, 1992. Frankfurt Am Main: European Secretariat. Statutes. The Climate Alliance. Web. 30 Sept. 2014.

“Climate Alliance: European Policy.” The Climate Alliance. The Climate Alliance, 30 Sept. 2014. Web. 30 Sept. 2014.

“Climate Alliance: Our Profile.” The Climate Alliance. The Climate Alliance, 30 Sept. 2014. Web. 30 Sept. 2014.

“Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).” Indigene: Biodiversity. The Climate Alliance, 9 Aug. 2014. Web. 30 Sept. 2014.

“Cooperations and Projects.” Indigene: Cooperations and Projects. The Climate Alliance, 9 Aug. 2014. Web. 30 Sept. 2014.

Germany. German Ministry. German Agency for the Environment. Future Café: Milestones in Local Climate Protection. The Climate Alliance. The Climate Alliance. Web. 30 Oct. 2014.

“Global Emissions.” EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 9 Sept. 2013. Web. 29 Sept. 2014.

“Indigenous Peoples in the International Climate Process.” The Climate Alliance. The Climate Alliance, 9 Aug. 2014. Web. 30 Sept. 2014.

“International Policy.” Climate Alliance:. The Climate Alliance, 30 Sept. 2014. Web. 30 Oct. 2014.

“Our Objectives.” Climate Alliance: Our Objectives. The Climate Alliance, 30 Sept. 2014. Web. 30 Sept. 2014.

“The Sarayaku Community Needs Juridical Support.” The Climate Alliance. The Climate Alliance, 9 Aug. 2014. Web. 30 Sept. 2014.

“Solar Partnerships – Solar Lamps in the Peruvian Rainforest.” Indigene: Solar Lamps. The Climate Alliance, 9 Aug. 2014. Web. 01 Oct. 2014.

“Welcome to the Website of Climate Alliance!” Climate Alliance: Home. The Climate Alliance, 30 Sept. 2014. Web. 30 Sept. 2014.

“What Is the ILO?” Indigene: ILO 169. The Climate Alliance, 9 Aug. 2014. Web. 30 Sept. 2014.


The WBCSD: Private Solutions to a Global Problem

Sustainable Business

There is not a colloquial “silver-bullet” solution that can immediately stem the impending effects of climate change; similarly, there is not a single layer on which the governance of climate change occurs.  The work to mitigate and adapt to climate change and global warming does not rest only with sovereign national governments and international institutions like the United Nations Framework for Climate Change (UNFCCC), but it also occurs across sectors and borders.  Private transnational networks are an effective avenue for executing action in the manner that businesses across the world function on both a day-to-day and strategic basis.  One stellar case study of such an effective network is the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), an international association of businesses such as General Motors, DuPont, Deutsche Bank, Coca-Cola, Sony, BP, and Shell, among others.  The Council has been at the forefront of the private sector on private greenhouse gas accounting and reporting, and initiated the discussion on the role businesses across the world can play in a future, low-carbon, sustainable economy and society.

The mission of the WBCSD is to “provide business leadership as a catalyst for change toward sustainable development, and to support the business license to operate, innovate and grow in a world increasingly shaped by sustainable development issues.”[1]  This has placed the Council as a leading figure throughout the private sector for sustainable business practices in the shadow of what the global economy may look like in the future.  The WBCSD aims to “be a leading business advocate on sustainable development, participate in policy development to create the right framework conditions for business to make an effective contribution to sustainable human progress, develop and promote the business case for sustainable development, demonstrate the business contribution to sustainable development solutions and share leading-edge practices among members, and contribute to a sustainable future for developing nations and nations in transition…[in the focus areas of] energy and climate, development, the business role, and ecosystems.”[2]  Thus, these objectives position the Council in both the information-sharing and regulation categories outlined by Bulkeley and Newell,[3] because there is a sharing and pooling of best practices and knowledge among the member companies through reports and publications, and those companies commit themselves, as members, to conduct business sustainably and within the objectives and mission of the Council.

The foundational belief that rests underneath the WBCSD’s work is that “stable and sustainable societies cannot and must not tolerate poverty among their citizens and…businesses, economies, governments, and societies must work together to ensure open and fair access to all markets and opportunities.”[4]  This is what motivates these companies to become members and to follow through on their commitments; there is a universal recognition among the companies involved that cooperation, coordination, and consideration are in the best interests of all, especially themselves, because these companies would not be able to exist in a society that is failing and crumbling due to a more volatile climate.  And this initiative has “helped create a paradigm shift in the way in which business does business”[5]  away from purely self-interested, short-sighted parameters that focus solely on dollars and cents and towards a more holistic framing of business’s role in the climate debate.  The discussion amidst the private sector has been elevated, the knowledge base has grown exponentially and has become more fluid among nations and companies, and sector-wide standards are installed and being followed because of the work that the WBCSD has done and is continuing to do around the world, and the association serves as a sterling example of a driven and effective transnational network.


[1] What-when-how. “World Business Council for Sustainable Development (Global Warming).” Accessed September 29, 2014.

[2] What-when-how.

[3] Harriet Bulkeley and Peter Newell, Governing Climate Change (New York: The CUNY Graduate Center, 2010), 57.

[4] What-when-how.

[5] Credo Reference.  “WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development).” Accessed September 29, 2014.