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Climate Change Mitigation: A Role for Climate Clubs?

Jon Hovi, Detlef Sprinz, Håkon Sælen, Arild Underdal

The limited success of the UNFCCC negotiations has enticed scholars, environmentalists, and policymakers alike to propose alternative approaches to climate cooperation. This article reviews the scholarly literature concerning one such proposed alternative—climate clubs. According to the club approach, it would be promising to start with small groups of “enthusiastic” countries. These countries would outline what they are willing and able to do, conditional on what other enthusiastic countries offer and implement. Moreover, these enthusiastic countries would try to entice “reluctant” countries to join via “exclusive and contingent” measures. Focusing on the conditions for a climate club to effectively reduce global emissions, we organize our review around four main questions: first, what is a climate club’s potential for providing benefits that accrue exclusively to club members? Second, how might leadership influence a climate club’s ability to eventually become effective? Third, what insights can the formal modelling literature offer concerning the effectiveness of climate clubs? Finally, which is the empirical record of existing climate clubs? We conclude by providing several suggestions for future research.

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