Posted by: Matthew Hoffmann | February 11, 2011

Climate Governance Experiments Book

My book on climate governance experiments–Climate Governance at the Crossroads: Experimenting with a Global Response after Kyoto–has just been published. It’s available on Amazon and the Oxford University Press website. Here’s a link and a blurb:


Climate Governance at the Crossroads

Matthew J. Hoffmann


The global response to climate change has reached a critical juncture. Since the 1992 signing of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the nations of the world have attempted to address climate change through large-scale multilateral treaty-making. These efforts have been heroic, but disappointing. As evidence for the quickening pace of climate change mounts, the treaty-making process has sputtered, and many are now skeptical about the prospect of an effective global response. Yet global treaty-making is not the only way that climate change can be addressed or, indeed, is being addressed.

In the last decade myriad initiatives have emerged across the globe independently from, or only loosely connected to, the “official” UN-sponsored negotiations and treaties. In the face of stalemate in the formal negotiations, the world is experimenting with alternate means of responding to climate change. Climate Governance at the Crossroads chronicles these innovations–how cities, provinces and states, citizen groups, and corporations around the globe are addressing the causes and symptoms of global warming. The center of gravity in the global response to climate change is shifting from the multilateral treaty-making process to the diverse activities found beyond the negotiating halls. These innovations are pushing the envelope of climate action and demonstrating what is possible, and they provide hope that the world will respond effectively to the climate crisis.

In introducing climate governance “experiments” and examining the development and functioning of this new world of climate policy-making, this book provides an exciting new perspective on the politics of climate change and the means to understand and influence how the global response to climate change will unfold in the coming years.


  • Presents a new, broad perspective on climate governance that analyzes active alternatives to ineffectual multilateral negotiations
  • Includes an original database summary of climate governance initiatives at individual, municipal, national, sub-national, corporate, and transnational levels
  • Analyzes the prospects and pitfalls for new climate governance initiatives


“The perennial quest for a seamless international bargain on climate change has yielded to a far more complex set of climate governance initiatives around the world. Matthew Hoffmann takes a fresh look at this ever-expanding arena of public policy and thoughtfully explores early lessons and possible next steps. This book represents a valuable scholarly contribution and provides an important public service.”–Barry G. Rabe, Professor of Public Policy and Professor of the Environment, University of Michigan

“Growing concern about the impacts of climate change, coupled with frustration at the lack of progress in intergovernmental climate negotiations, has motivated numerous subnational governments and non-state actors to launch experiments with alternative approaches to climate governance. This important book provides the first systematic assessment of these initiatives. Focusing on the experimental governance system, it not only sheds light on ways forward regarding climate change; it also adds to our understanding of a trend of fundamental importance to the pursuit of governance more generally.”–Oran R. Young, Professor of Institutional and International Governance, University of California-Santa Barbara

“Matthew Hoffman brings light to the darkening literature of climate change. He shows that, while negotiations at the international level have stalled, there is a multitude of promising governing efforts taking place in the municipal, corporate and nongovernmental sectors. Seen through Hoffman’s incisive analytical lens, we can appreciate such ‘experiments’ as grounds for hope. If you care about and want to respond positively to climate change, read this book!”–Paul Wapner, Associate Professor and Director of the Global Environmental Politics Program, American University



  1. […] to climate change is shifting from the multilateral negotiations to innovative climate governance experiments. Yet without the annual UN meetings, efforts to publicize and link the activities of these crucial […]

  2. […] Today, the Environmental Governance Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs here at the Univ of Toronto (which I co-direct with Steven Bernstein) launched a report (Pathways-To-Decarbonization) detailing the discussions from our inaugural workshop “Pathways to Decarbonization.” This report comes at a fortuitous time. Anxiety about climate change continues to accelerate (for two examples see here and here). At the same time, the governance of climate change seems mired in dysfunction. While some have lauded as good news ‘messy’ climate action taking place in the US (see here and here), the bulk of developments in climate politics are much less positive, especially the fate of the EU Emissions Trading System (see here and here) or the need to refocus climate politics because of the ongoing impasse in the UN-based negotiations.  Climate governance does indeed remain at a crossroads. […]

  3. […] Entrepreneurial efforts are everywhere right now. I’ve written elsewhere about the diverse, experimental activities that have sprouted in the last 10 years. Suffice it to say that there are multiple cities, states, provinces, corporations, and environmental NGOs that are not waiting for national governments or the international negotiations to act and are instead taking climate change actions themselves. Even Barack Obama, of late, is talking normalization. At a recent summit in Mexico, he argued that climate change “has to affect all of our decisions at this stage because the science is irrefutable.” The more political leaders talk as if aggressive climate action is necessary and innovators take aggressive climate action, the greater the chance we will see a shift in the underlying commonsense of climate action. […]

  4. […] scholarship on climate governance (e.g.) we are finally seeing the right (or at least a better) framing of the climate change problem emerge. Specifically, the stark dichotomy between sterile frustration over the lack of a […]

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