Pacha Mama


It only made sense that we end our semester long climate change adventure visiting some of the most incredible sites provided by Mother Earth, or “Pacha Mama” known as by the Quechua indigenous people of the Andes. After our experiences at COP20 chasing down delegates, collecting and trading business cards, shuffling from meeting to meeting, and escaping the heat (from both inside and outside the plenary) with some gelato, it was exciting to visit ancient sites that climate change could prohibit future generations from enjoying. I considered myself lucky to be able to visit Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, where within the next year the Ministry of Culture in Cusco has decided tourism will be restricted to a certain number of visitors who must be accompanied by an official guide. The ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu is a gold mine for Peru’s tourism industry. Our guide, Hamilton, informed us just the 1Sol fee to use the bathroom generates 6,000 Soles per day.


This tourist attraction is huge part of Peru’s economy and they would never close it, but it is sad to see that years of previous human degradation will restrict future generations to enjoy one of Mother Earth’s marvelous sites. This same concept applies to the Earth’s changing climate, years of environmental degradation caused by previous generations of humans is changing how future generations will be able to live on our shared planet. My experience at COP20 was both optimistic and skeptic. While it is optimistic to see progress in negotiations and progress in the use of sustainable technology, there is still a long way to go until we reach a global participation and agreement. Every year there is this extravagant event where representatives from each party meet to discuss what needs to be done to save the planet. However, much of this event is excessive and wasteful, which makes it seem counterproductive. But I am certainly invested in following the road to Paris and beyond.

Dinner with Delegates


Thus far our time in Lima has been spent sightseeing, for both people and places. We have been spending our days at Voces por el Clima interviewing delegates and representatives from various countries, Peru, Bolivia, Netherlands, and the Democratic Republic of Congo to name a few. While also exploring Lima outside of COP venues, we continue to run into party members and representatives. We were fortunate enough to have dinner with Gabriel Blanco a delegate from Argentina who has attended 9 previous COPs. Through a more relaxed interview involving cebiche and cerveza, Señor Blanco held nothing back about Argentina’s insufficient climate action. While it was surprising to hear about Argentina’s climate denial, it was even more surprising to me that Argentinas government continued to send delegates to a convention in which the argentine people had very little commitment towards. Leaving that dinner was a bit frustrating to hear that despite this being the twentieth conference of the parties, some governments are still in disagreement about the changing climate which is greatly impacting the lack of education for its citizens. Therefore a cycle of negligence occurs. However, Gabriel Blanco seemed somewhat optimistic for the outcomes in Lima, and we told him we will come to Argentina to help change the minds of the many Argentines who remain apathetic towards climate change.


Movement Towards A Sustainable World

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 12.54.48 PM

Climate change is by far one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century. Humans are creating this change in the climate; therefore humanity must take responsibility for previous actions. Developed and developing nations must switch to an energy efficient and renewable world, but it is a global effort. Climate change is expected to put pressure on natural environments as well as those constructed by humans. Therefore, in order to minimize these challenges, it is imperative to put adaptation plans into action. While the world continues to grow and develop, it is important further development is done in a sustainable manner. Sustainable development is a considerable solution towards developing in a way that lessens environmental degradation. Sustainable development is defined by the World Commission on Environment and Development  as, “a mechanism for growth without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs” (Warner, 2014). Sustainable development can be achieved through climate resilient pathways, which combine methods of adaptation and mitigation. However, it is argued if climate change will pose significant threats to prospects for sustainable development.

According to the UNFCCC, “Climate change poses a moderate threat to current sustainable development and a severe threat to future sustainable development.” Climate change involves a complex interaction between social and ecological systems; therefore new approaches to sustainable development must take this into consideration. Adaptation and mitigation are both essential for minimizing the risks attributed with climate change. Currently and previously, actions on sustainable development have been delayed, which poses a threat for future sustainable development because it can reduce the options for climate resilient pathways.

On the other hand, researchers at MIT, “looked at three policies achieving the same reductions in the United States, and found that the savings on health care spending and other costs related to illness can be big” (Resutek, 2014). Policies that aim at reducing carbon emissions are beneficial to health problems because these policies lead to reductions in harmful pollutants. These emission reductions also in turn have huge cost reductions for healthcare. One of the researchers Tammy Thompson states, “If cost-benefit analyses of climate policies don’t include the significant health benefits from healthier air, they dramatically underestimate the benefits of these policies” (Resutek, 2014). These results show that climate policies not only benefit the environment, but also benefit health and the economy. The recent advances in technology for renewable energy can achieve more than just meeting the goals of emissions reductions.

While the future in respect to climate change looks entirely too bleak, humanity must use existing technology and implement policy towards continuous sustainable development. We cannot move forward without doing so in a sustainable manner. All nations must work together and assist the most vulnerable nations in taking drastic measures in order to remain under the two-degree limit. Sustainable development produces global benefits in combating climate change.

Works Cited

Resutek, Audrey. “Study: Cutting Emissions Pays for Itself.” MIT News. MIT, 24 Aug. 2014. Web. 02 Nov. 2014.

Warner, Koko, Dr. “Climate Resilient Pathways to Sustainable Development.” Multiple Resilience Pathways: (n.d.): n. pag. UNFCCC. UNFCCC, 19 May 2014. Web.




Have your cake and eat it too with the “Mixed-track” Approach


The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) has two objectives taken on by two different workstreams. The goals of the ADP are to develop a new framework that will govern all parties under the UNFCCC by the COP 21 in 2015 and to close the ambition gap by ensuring the highest mitigation efforts by all parties. Keeping in mind the golden number, 2 degrees Celsius, is the limited amount of global temperature rise. The complexities of climate change involve multilevel governance. Finding the best approach towards climate governance is a heavily debated topic, given the difficulty of reaching a global agreement. Two opposing approaches are a top-down approach and a bottom-up approach. These approaches are used to link the economy and greenhouse gas emissions.  Top-down involves a, “contractual approach favoring binding targets and timetables” (Bodansky, 1). While bottom-up involves, “facilitative approach favoring voluntary actions defined unilaterally”(Bodansky, 1). David Bodansky argues that an effective international agreement relies on multiple variables: stringency, participation, and compliance. However, “weakness along any of these three dimensions will undermine an agreement’s effectiveness” (Bodansky, 2). Which is why he argues both models should be merged in order to cumulate an effective agreement.


The Kyoto Protocol was expected to lead a long-term top-down approach for mitigating climate change. Developed and developing countries could not come to a consensus in the negotiation process. Instead, countries have taken on their own climate obligations through a bottom-up approach. The failure of the top-down approach through the Kyoto protocol allowed for alternative approaches to take way, such as the Cancun Agreements.  At Cancun, “the Brazilian government declared it would halt all deforestation in Brazil by 2025” (King, 2011).  A bottom-up approach essentially implements policies at the lowest level of organization. Thus, proposing the idea that action can be taken at every level. There are numerous municipal initiatives and cities that are the centers of innovation for more sustainable practices. While a top-down approach focuses its attention on mitigation, a bottom-up approach concentrates on adaptation and the notion of vulnerability. Local approaches tend to have more short-term results, whereas top-down methods involve long-term impacts.

A hybrid, or “mixed track,” approach will be necessary in order to establish absolute commitments. Both approaches have different strengths and weaknesses, but together the weaknesses are compensated. For example, bottom-up attracts participation and implementation but does not effectively enact regulations. On the other hand, top-down results show the opposite. Mitigation and adaptation are both equally important in combating climate change and can both be reached through a mixed track approach of governance. We must not only rely on global agreement and regulation, but also on local implementations and participation. A legally binding treaty would ensure compliance but in addition we need local projects and governance in order to take fast action. The combination of both top-down and bottom-up approaches will be the most effective route in achieving the post-2020 goals of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform on Enhanced Action.

Works cited

David Bodansky, “The Durban Platform: Issues and Options for a 2015 Agreement,” Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (2012): 1-11.

King, David, and Achim Steiner. “Is a Global Agreement the Only Way to Take Climate Change?” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, n.d. Web.

Perfect Chair: Goldilocks; as the Mixed Track Approach: COP20


Global Climate Change is a multi-faceted problem resulting in 20 years of relatively stagnant climate change negotiations. The past negotiations have failed to ratify a climate change agreement that involves all the nation- state actors. The involvement of all nation-states is necessary to achieve the goal of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, which is closing the gap between the countries’ emission pledges and the actuality of countries ability to reach the global average temperature to be below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels.  Hence to achieve global involvement and to attain the necessary mitigation goals, alternative negotiations from the “top-bottom” approach may offer a better solution. The “mixed-track” approach is the most effective method of achieving the post-2020 goals of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action for it incorporates successful aspects of the “top-bottom” and “bottom-up” approaches, but also resolves the issues that both approaches pose.

Neither the “top-down” nor the “bottom-up” approaches allow for completely successful climate change negotiations. One issue with the “top-down” approach is that it has led to a division between developed and developing nation-states, which has made negotiations tense.  This divide has become a wall due to most climate policy’s constant incorporation of the CBDR principle (Kallbekken 2014).  The CBDR policy and changed dynamics between the developed and developing countries should be altered because these nation-states situations have changed and climate change’s current state requires global participation. Another reason why the “top-down” approach has failed in the past is because nation-state’s participation is voluntary and also there is  “no enforcement machinery” despite being “under international law” (Bodansky 2012).  The Kyoto Protocol operated under these standards and its “failure” was highlighted due to the withdrawals of the United States, Canada, Russia and Japan. Although the Kyoto Protocol had its disadvantages, it was a major milestone for it provided a framework that was accepted around the globe.  If the future negotiations can generate this same global participation, it could lead to the achievement of the Ad Hoc’s goals for 2020.

Similar to the “bottom-up” approach, the “top-down” approach has its strengths and weaknesses. Compared to the “top-down” approach, it has improved international relations for it acts across boarders and has found commonality among nation-states basis.  Since private and public transnational networks play such a large role in the negotiations, they should be integrated into the decision-making process.  Another strength is that it allows for flexibility and inclusivity for it does not require a protocol or international legal agreement (Bondansky 2012). An example of the “bottom-up” approach was the Copenhagen Accord and Cancún Agreements, which operate at a national level and are only partially committed, not legally binded. The flexibility of the agreement generates greater public approval of an agreement, since it does not necessarily have negative effects if the nation-state deviates from the agreement.  However, this flexibility is also the downfall of this approach for it gives states too much freedom in which they could lessen their responsibilities towards climate change.

The “mixed track” approach adds upon “top-down”’ approach’s successful aspect, but also incorporates the “bottom-up”’ approach’s alternative mechanisms. The “mixed track” approach gives a role to both international and national regime, since they both have been effective in different mechanisms. The “mixed track” positive aspects consist of: legal agreement with some binding and non binding component, variable structure incorporating national and international regimes, multiple types of commitments and mixed mitigation process (Bodansky 2012). Hopefully, the “mixed track” approach would encourage the necessary qualities in decision making , which are “tringency, participation and compliance” .


Bodansky, D., 2012. The Durban Platform: Issues and Options for a 2015 Agreement.
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES). Analysis of President Bush’s Climate Change Plan. February, 2002.

Immediate Top Down Action is Needed

Emission by country

The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) was charged with figuring out how to set up a new protocol in 2015, which will come into effect in 2020 (UNFCCC, 2012). The UNFCCC (2012) asked the ADP to work to find ways to close the ambition gap between pledged emission reductions and the level of reductions necessary to stay below 2 degree Celsius warming. Some countries are voluntarily stepping up and agreeing to emissions reductions (such as Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMA) in developing nations). However, the world is not close to being on track to stay below the 2-degree limit (UNFCCC, 2012) agreed to in the Copenhagen Accord (UNFCCC, 2010). The best way to get the world on track to reducing the impacts of climate change is through top down agreements, which reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A top down agreement will be the most effective given the current situation because meaningful emissions reductions can be realized in a small window of time, the biggest polluters would be legally bound to reductions, and an agreement can be forged to minimize the worst impacts of climate change.

Global Emissions Projections
Global Emissions Projections

If a bottom up approach were taken, emissions reductions would not be realized quickly enough to have an impact. Voluntary pledges will not work because they allow too much flexibility on a national level. Every country is ultimately self-interested and will obey the rules of the prisoners dilemma unless they are able to coerce others into an agreement. Under this circumstance, only those countries that can benefit from emissions reductions (politically or economically) will cut GHG emissions. Emissions cuts might take place under this scenario, but they will either be “low hanging fruit” emissions cuts, because they are economically viable, or other reductions that make sense for a country to take on regardless of the way other countries act. For example the US, under George W. Bush, pledged to reduce carbon dioxide emissions per dollar gross domestic product (GDP) (Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, 2002). Other countries could make similar insignificant commitments where emissions could still increase when they have pledged to reduce under some parameter. A bottom up approach does not bind countries together to make a difference. Other forcings must occur to get countries to join for emission reductions.
Bodansky (2012) argues that a “multi-track approach” is best because it will give countries flexibility, but will still hold countries accountable and allow for real commitments. This method does provide the most politically feasible route forward and would lead to relatively quick short-term emissions reduction benefits. However, this path could disintegrate as parties jockey for positions that require less commitment. For example, India has proposed that countries should not have to mitigate emissions until they reach US$20,000 GDP per capita (Bernauer and others, 2014). According to the World Bank (2014) India currently has a GDP per capita of US$1,499 averaged over 2009-2013, allowing them to avoid responsibility for the foreseeable future. Yet, India is responsible for approximately 5% of the world’s emissions (World Resource Institute, 2011) and is thus needed in climate negotiations as emissions continue to grow (Baumert, 2005). Under a multi-track approach, countries can easily evade ambitious GHG reduction plans.

2011 Emission by country
2011 Emission by country

A top down approach allows for quick and decisive action. The most important piece is for the biggest emitters to come together to make a deal, because small nations do not matter in terms of emissions and mitigation. About 70% of the worlds emissions belong to (in descending order) China, United States, European Union (28), India, Russia, Indonesia, Brazil, Japan, Canada, Mexico and Iran (WRI, 2011). These countries must come together and pave a binding path forward that would limit warming globally. This plan would need to take the form of a legally binding Kyoto like agreement (Bodansky, 2012) from the biggest GHG emitters and could later be expanded to include future emerging emitters. A top down agreement is imperative to ensure that the necessary (largest emitting) parties sign on to reach meaningful cuts to avoid worst-case scenarios from warming. Fast and decisive action is needed to close the ambition gap between pledges and the reductions needed to keep the world below 2 degrees Celsius warming (UNFCCC, 2012), which can only be achieved through legally binding and enforced agreements amongst the biggest emitters.
The bottom up will provide insignificant short terms emissions reductions, which will not be enough to stay below 2 degrees Celsius. Energy and focus should not be put towards achieving a bottom up strategy because that is not where meaningful change is going to occur. Only the biggest emitters need to focus on establishing drastic reductions immediately under a legally binding framework. There is no time to wait to include every country. The biggest emitters must take decisive top down action to minimize warming immediately.

Baumert, Kevin A., Timothy Herzog, and Jonathan Pershing. Navigating the numbers: Greenhouse gas data and international climate policy. World Resources Inst, 2005.
Bernauer, Thomas, Robert Gampfer, and Florian Landis. “Burden Sharing in Global Climate Governance.” Toward a New Climate Agreement: Conflict, Resolution and Governance (2014): 44.
Bodansky, D., 2012. The Durban Platform: Issues and Options for a 2015 Agreement. Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES). Analysis of President Bush’s Climate Change Plan. February, 2002.
IPCC, 2014: Summary for policymakers. In: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Field, C.B., V.R. Barros, D.J. Dokken, K.J. Mach, M.D. Mastrandrea, T.E. Bilir, M. Chatterjee, K.L. Ebi, Y.O. Estrada, R.C. Genova, B. Girma, E.S. Kissel, A.N. Levy, S. MacCracken,P.R. Mastrandrea, and L.L. White (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp. 1-32.
The World Bank. Data. “GDP per Capita (current US$)”. 2014.
UNFCCC. Copenhagen Accord. “Report of the Conference of the Parties on its fifteenth session, held in Copenhagen from 7 to 19 December 2009.” UNFCCC/CP/2009/11/Add.1. March 30, 2010.
UNFCCC. Report of the Conference of the Parties on its seventeenth session, held in Durban from 28 November to 11 December 2011, UNFCCC/CP/2011/9/Add.1. March, 15, 2012.
World Resource Institute (WRI), CAIT 2.0. 2011. Climate Analysis Indicators Tool: WRI’s Climate Data Explorer. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute. Available at:

The Best of Both Worlds for 2015

eiffel tower paris

After negotiations floundered at COP15 in Copenhagen to produce a broad-based and aggressive agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, the Durban Platform was created to direct and motivate such an agreement for COP21 in Paris next year. It called for an “agreed outcome with legal force” that falls within the UNFCCC’s framework and principles. David Bodansky stated that, in order for an international agreement to succeed, it has to include three criteria (stringency, participation, and compliance), and outlined possible approaches that could stem from the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP), either a top-down or bottom-up approach. From the information and framings provided by Bodansky, neither option is adequate as a viable solution by itself; rather, a mixed-track approach, which hybridizes both aforementioned approaches, would maximize the criteria and would provide a solid foundation for an international agreement to take effect after 2020.

The top-down approach, which could be seen as a continuation and expansion of what was seen in the Kyoto Protocol, places the main focus of climate governance and negotiations upon the international regime of the UNFCCC and other such institutions. These negotiations would focus upon an overarching emissions reductions target and how to delegate it among the Parties, and would present a take-it-or-leave-it type of agreement; nations would have to agree to the agreement as a whole, and would be legally bound to it and the prescribed actions within it. This, however, scares many nations within the UNFCCC, especially those key to any effective agreement (e.g. the United States, China, India, etc.) and could either jeopardize participation because it’s too stringent or stringency because countries would only sign on to an agreement that was not as aggressive as it could have and/or should have been. While it has produced success in the Kyoto Protocol, there are also hindrances inherently built into the approach that limit its effectiveness.

On the other hand, the Cancun architecture was born in response to the top-down approach taken with the Kyoto Protocol and advocated a bottom-up approach that placed national governments as the vanguards against the effects of climate change. Rather than having the international regime dictate what each country must do, this alternative approach empowers each nation to decide their best way to individually take action in mitigation and adaptation, which builds national buy-in and ownership of the country’s efforts. However, this produces an incentive for a nation to understate their capacity to mitigate/adapt or produce conservative and non-aggressive targets, thus imperiling the ultimate purpose of the UNFCCC to stem warming to two degrees Celsius.

As explained above, both approaches have their strengths and weaknesses, but neither fully maximizes the three criteria that are key to a successful international agreement. Together, however, a viable middle ground could be reached that synthesizes the strengths of both approaches and that fulfills the stringency, participation, and compliance criteria. The bottom-up portion of a mixed-track approach allows countries to make commitments in areas that are both most effective and within its capacity to achieve, producing what Bodansky called a “variable geometry.” It provides enough freedom in action that each nation may find and take the course of action that works best for them, without imposing a one-size-fits-all solution that is unrealistic and incongruent with the political, economic, and developmental realities of a particular nation. Also, it satisfies the voluntary “pledge and renew” actions most nations are now interested in, as flexibility is the new mantra, so to say, of climate negotiations post-Kyoto; participation would be maximized with these types of actions rather than legally-binding commitments because most nations are not willing to take that step, as seen in the Kyoto Protocol. Within this flexible structure, the top-down portion provides enough incentive and enforcement/oversight to motivate aggressive and directed action, essential if the UNFCCC is going to keep warming below the two degree target. Through oversight and recommendations, the international regime can make sure that nations aren’t shirking their “common but differentiated responsibilities” while still motivating each nation to find the best solution that fits within that responsibility and capacity.

An aggressive and broad-based agreement is absolutely essential in order to meet the two degree target set by the UNFCCC at its conception in 1992. The best way to achieve this is not through a single mechanism or approach, or through a small group of nations; a wide array of options and avenues for action is necessary in order to gain the participation of a wide base of countries. Finding the colloquial sweet spot where an agreement is stringent enough to be effective at taking action and meeting the two degree target but not too stringent that there is insufficient participation. Therein lies the challenge for the UNFCCC and its individual member-states, but, with the best of both worlds, success is within our grasp.


David Bodansky, “The Durban Platform: Issues and Options for a 2015 Agreement,” Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (2012): 1-11.

“Preamble,” United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, accessed October 7th, 2014.

Today is the day: An optimistic approach.

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Is it just me or does Morgan Freeman’s distinctive voice make anything sound possible? Freeman does just this through his narration of the short film What’s Possible, which was presented to the 2014 UN Climate Summit in New York a few weeks ago. This short film expresses global concerns through magnificent images in under 4 minutes. Morgan Freeman points out we already have all the technology we need in order to solve climate change. Now we must get our world leaders together to take action. This short film shows we have already done half of the work through developing groundbreaking technologies fostering sustainability, now we must have a cooperative approach towards governance.

Having a pessimistic view on climate change is the world’s demise. The people who think it is too late to act on climate change must realize everything we need is right here with us. We must be optimistic in order to change towards more sustainable ways. We have the capability to destroy this planet (which we are) but we have an even greater capability to save it. It is up to us to take action, this is our problem!


Watch the sequel to What’s Possible, A World of Solutions!!


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.

REEEPing the Benefits of Transnational Networks

REEEP Structure
REEEP Structure

The Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) is an international non-profit based in Vienna, Austria that’s aim is to “accelerate the global market for sustainable energy with a primary focus on developing countries and emerging markets.”[1] Launched in 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development by the United Kingdom and several other partners, REEEP has developed into a wide reaching NGO that has implemented over 180 projects in 58 countries. Membership is comprised of national and sub-national governments, international organizations, businesses, and other NGOs. REEEP operates as a public-private governance structure off of donor money and serves their mission by providing funding, information, and connector for clean energy solutions. A critique of transnational governance structures and groups such as REEEP is the overall effectiveness. An evaluation of REEEP’s place in global climate change governance and clean energy markets finds that REEEP is indeed effective.

Changjiang Buildings with Solar Thermal
Changjiang Buildings with Solar Thermal

REEEP’s existence is intrinsically linked to climate change, but also goes beyond just the need for energy that is not derived from carbon-intensive sources. REEEP’s support of clean energy markets is focused on three problem areas: (1) the water-energy nexus, (2) sustainable urban transport, (3) energy efficiency and buildings. Through these three areas they are able to provide services to not only increase the amount of clean energy employed in operations, but also to change the market system in the area in question. One service in particular is the portfolio system. REEEP looks for ventures in the clean energy market that they think will significantly alter the market system. They then invest donor funding into the venture. Their claim is that they “measure ROI not in money, but in markets changed.”[2] A claim not backed up by readily available evidence, but implies that REEEP is looking beyond monetary growth and interested in changing the way the market functions.

REEEP is heavily project based and to go into even a wide breadth of them would be a very large analysis. Though one big project known as Reegle is a shining example of the work REEEP does. Reegle is an informational portal for those interested in clean energy. It receives over 220,000 visitors per month and provides information from nation’s energy profile to a clean energy and climate change glossary. They also claim that many of the visitors are from developing nations. 220,000 visitors in a month is a lot. The information gathered in this portal, just for the energy profile, would take hours of work to gather otherwise. For this reason solely Reegle is a great tool. Another successful project was one in which REEEP funded a roadmap for increased renewable energy in China’s Changjiang River Basin (CJR). This project provided over €160,000 in funding to researchers that prepared a report on global and then implemented two technologies in CJR. The project provided hot water for apartment buildings in the region, as well as another example of successful implementation of a clean energy technology.

The question then is, is REEEP effective? Given the breadth of successful and ongoing projects, as well as continued funding I would judge to say yes. Financially speaking REEEP is in good standing and operating within their prerogatives, as judged by a recent Auditor’s Report.[3] An outside assessment of REEEP was conducted during a National Research Council workshop on “Enhancing the Effectiveness of Sustainability Partnerships.” The report, titled Assessing the Role and Relevance of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) in Global Sustainability Governance found that REEEP is “indeed addressing the goals that it declares.” One criticism was that REEEP focuses attention on the most important emerging renewable energy and energy efficiency markets and neglects the poorer nations, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa. The final judgment though is that given REEEP’s current scale and ability to implement these large projects, it could have “considerable impact in the area of sustainable energy policy.” Given this assessment by those within the NRC and the successful projects that have been implemented thus far, as well as the market impact that can be attributed to REEEP, it is safe to say that this group can be judged as effective.



[1] REEEP Mission,

[2] REEEP Portfolios,

[3] Auditor’s Report 2012-2013, REEEP

Works Cited

“Annual Report 2012/13.” REEEP.


“Auditor’s Report 2013.” PricewaterhouseCoopers.


Pattberg, Philipp, Kacper Szulecki, Sander Chan, and Aysem Mert. “Abstract: Assessing the Role and

Relevance of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) in Global

Sustainability Governance.” Enhancing the Effectiveness of Sustainability Partnerships (2009):



“Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Partnership .” REEEP.