Under the Radar: A Coherent System of Climate Governance, Driven by Business

27 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2020 Last revised: 2 Jul 2020

See all articles by Louis Leonard

Louis Leonard

Environmental Law Institute; Chatham University

Date Written: July 1, 2020


Initiatives by private actor groups to cut carbon emissions, adopt climate-smart agriculture practices and increase renewable energy are growing in scope and ambition. Although links exist with public policy, these actions are not mandated by public law. Instead, participation is driven by a complex mix of other compelling motivations, including pressure from investors and the public, maintaining access to markets, and a growing economic and social case for climate action. This paper presents the hypothesis that these growing private efforts, when examined collectively, begin to take on the attributes and functions of a system of governance that could be vital to societal decarbonization. This analysis takes the concept of private governance further than most studies by not just evaluating specific initiatives against governance criteria, but looking at the entire field of private climate action to ask whether the collective effort hangs together as a system of governance and should be treated as such by its many participants. Although coherent and growing, the system is at a delicate moment with its future, and perhaps ours, dependent on whether bridges are built, barriers are cleared, and current and new players better coordinate. The paper includes a proposed research and action agenda to advance these goals.

Keywords: corporate governance, climate change, supply chain, governance, CSR, soft law, corporate sustainability

JEL Classification: K2, K32, L1, L2, L5, M1, M14, Q54

Suggested Citation

Leonard, Louis and Leonard, Louis, Under the Radar: A Coherent System of Climate Governance, Driven by Business (July 1, 2020). Environmental Law Reporter, 50 ELR 10547 (July 2020) https://elr.info/news-analysis/50/10546/under-radar-coherent-system-climate-governance-driven-business, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3598219

Louis Leonard (Contact Author)

Chatham University ( email )

106 Woodland Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15232
United States

Environmental Law Institute ( email )

2000 L Street, NW, Suite 620
Washington, DC 20036
United States

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