Adaptation and Resilience, Climate Policy


1 October 2021

Varieties of climate governance: the emergence and functioning of climate institutions

Navroz K Dubash


How do states respond to the challenge of climate governance? The Paris Agreement has led to heightened interest in domestic climate policies, but attention to underlying national climate institutional architectures has lagged behind. This literature gap deserves to be addressed, because climate change brings considerable governance challenges. Drawing on a collection of country studies, this paper outlines a framework to explain the path-dependent emergence of climate institutions, based on the interplay of national political institutions,international drivers, and bureaucratic structures. The resultant institutional forms suggest four varieties of climate governance, based on the extent of political polarisation and the narrative around climate politics in the country. The functioning of existing climate institutions indicates they have so far played a modest role in addressing climate governance challenges, but also illustrates their importance in structuring climate politics and outcomes, suggesting a substantial agenda for future research.

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