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What have scholars learned over the past decade about the forces that shape the creation, design, and adaptation of intergovernmental institutions in earth system governance and their influence on state behaviour? Context characteristics – shared, science-based knowledge; the behaviours involved; and the availability of alternative behaviours – can shape institutional creation, design and adaptation. The strategies states, existing institutions and non-state actors deploy, in turn, can promote institutional formation despite challenges or inhibit it despite propitious conditions. Context characteristics also can pose larger or smaller obstacles to institutional effectiveness. Institutions prove more effective when their designs reflect political, economic and social constraints as well as major actors’ power and incentives. They shape material, ideational and normative incentives and opportunities that channel states toward positive behaviours and away from negative ones. New research can build on recent findings by investigating complex interactions at and across the international, transnational, domestic and subnational levels of earth system governance.
Although the Paris Agreement arguably made some progress, interest in supplementary approaches to climate change co-operation persist. This article examines the conditions under which a climate club might emerge and grow. Using agent-based simulations, it shows that even with less than a handful of major actors as initial members, a club can eventually reduce global emissions effectively. To succeed, a club must be initiated by the ‘right’ constellation of enthusiastic actors, offer sufficiently large incentives for reluctant countries and be reasonably unconstrained by conflicts between members over issues beyond climate change. A climate club is particularly likely to persist and grow if initiated by the United States and the European Union. The combination of club-good benefits and conditional commitments can produce broad participation under many conditions.
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