Global Governance Of Climate: Fit for Purpose?

CLIMATE JUSTICE II Sea & Mountain Seminar
Corfu & Epirus Greece
July 16-20 2018

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The presentations at the Second Annual Climate Justice Seminar focused not only on the failures of the current state-based climate governance structure, but on the emerging successes of circumventing that structure and instead finding power in local decarbonization policies and grassroots efforts for climate litigation and multilateral cooperation. From both a subnational and a supranational perspective, it is increasingly clear that the current strategy of allowing national governments mostly based on selfinterest and not necessarily global interest to steer climate policy is ineffective and insufficient.

Following a series of presentations that examined these concerns with global governance from various perspectives, we held a conference workshop to further discuss the problems with current climate governance and its potential solutions, while another group workshopped similar questions about the specific case study of water scarcity and security. The seminar culminated in a presentation given to the full plenary by Dr. Sharei, Executive Director of the Center for United Nations Constitutional Research (CUNCR). This presentation summarized the structural gaps in our current global governance system and
illustrated how these shortcomings have a direct impact on our global effectiveness and preparedness to address climate change issues. He also started to identify some fundamental governance changes that need to be made to address these problems. From there, the entire group put together a comprehensive list of steps that need to be taken, as seen below:


  1. Incorporate environment and human rights into the Charter (constitutionalization of the UN) to revise the Charter, as necessary, to promote, protect, and adjudicate (judiciary) fundamental rights
  2. World citizens representation and legislation in addressing the democratic deficit of the current global governance. Creation of a Global Parliament, or a UN Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA)
  3. International judiciary and Court for the Environment
  4. Formalizing/promoting institutional social responsibility (corporations, non-state actors, including NGOs and media)
  5. Harmonization and expansion of global funding structures at the UN level for environmental research
  6. Expansion and promotion of sharing of best practices and training in combatting the adverse effects of climate change
  7. Ongoing global education through schools, advocacy groups, NGOs, etc.
  8. Reform of Green Climate Fund effectiveness in the areas of adaptation and mitigation
  9. In the name of climate justice, develop a pathway to holding climate change to 1.5 degrees C, with automatic triggers for additional climate action if we fall behind on meeting this obligation


Going forward as a group, we will start to plan Climate Justice III to build off of these action items. Continuing our outreach and collaboration is key to improving global environmental governance capable of addressing our current and impending climate change issues.


(Chronologically listed as they delivered)

Nicos Giannis (Greece) - "From Governments to Citizens: The Transformation and Future of Climate Policy"

  • Climate action must be taken at all levels of government, from better international leadership to individual responsibility to use less

J. Drake Hamilton (United States) – “American Climate Justice Action: Deep Decarbonization at the U.S. Subnational Level”

  • Minnesota’s nation-leading deep decarbonization policies are effective, have widespread community benefits, and do not rely on national governments to be successful.

Wouter Veening (Netherlands) – “Achieving Climate Justice in a Fragmenting World: Squaring the Circle?”

  • Climate justice requires strong world governance, both in place and time. At this moment world order is breaking down at the cost of climate awareness, policy, diplomacy and action. 

Kelci Wilford (Canada) - “What Climate Change? What We Did to the Planet, What We Need to do Now, and What Happens If We Don't”

  • Anthropogenic climate change is real and meaningful action is urgently needed.

Otto Spijkers (Netherlands) - "The Urgenda Case: A Successful Example of Public Interest Litigation for the Protection of the Environment?"

  • The case in which a civil society group successfully sued the Dutch government for better emission reduction targets is a landmark example of how civil society and the courts can be meaningful instruments in shaping climate governance.

Wolfgang Pape (Germany) - "Rules for Flows over National Borders and Omnilateral Governance"

  • Current backlashes from multi- to bilateralism can only be overcome by further opening up the multilateral system to other players (cities, regions; NGOs, GAFA etc.) as well as non-western practices beyond merely nation-centered interests. The resulting inclusive omnilateralism (from ‘omnibus’ Latin: for and by all), for the common good, would render global environmental agreements truly effective and legitimate by involving all the stakeholders, public and private, worldwide.

Thomas Muinzer (United Kingdom) - “Domestic Litigation in a Global World – The UK, Ireland and Beyond”

  • The UK was the first country to place long-term, economy-wide legally binding national emissions reduction targets on itself in legislation. This ‘framework’ legislation can facilitate and restrict effective climate litigation and can be linked to other climate litigation efforts worldwide.

Hung-jen Wang (ROC) - "The Predicament of Global Governance Practices: Review COP23
Achievements and Chinese Policy"

  • China will not play an entirely new role of leadership when it comes to climate change, but it does care about its image as a responsible great power and will act accordingly.

Jamie Sommer (United States) - "Climate Justice in Forestry: A Network Perspective"

  • Forestry is an integral part of addressing climate change and needs to be better addressed by global governance on every front.

Aideé Saucedo Dávila (Mexico) - "Global Climate Governance: An Alternate Paradigm Conceptualized by the Global South"

  • The vision to protect the climate, eradicate poverty and promote sustainable development is the foundation of modern global climate governance. The perspective of the Global South offers alternate development discourses and tailor-made solutions to limit climate change.
  • The purpose of this presentation was to present a case study on how developing countries are making efforts to tackle climate change and achieving climate justice through enacting climate legislation in Latin America, having capacity-development programs in Asia and the Pacific, and hosting international dialogues in Africa.

Andrew Hargrove (United States) and Imad Ibrahim (Lebanon) - “Realizing the Human Right to Water in the Context of Water Scarcity”

  • Water shortages are on the rise, and global governance (international water law, human rights law) is currently not capable of providing solutions. Several practical solutions may mitigate the problem but are not currently sufficient to resolve it entirely.

Shahr-yar Sharei (Iran – United States) – “Governance of Climate: Fit for Purpose?”

  • Global governance of climate is currently based on a fragmented series of declarations, accords, and mostly non-binding international agreements, with no institutional hierarchy, court system, or accountability. Coupled with lack of global legislation and the democratic deficit in making its rules, the current system of climate governance is highly doubtful to be able to meet this monumental challenge. 




Check out International Environmental Laws and Climate Change 2017