The Governance of Clean development: CDM and beyond

  • Newell, Peter (Principal Investigator)

Project Details


This is a summary of a set of proposed research and related activities to be under-taken as part of fellowship over three years from October 2008 on a 50% basis. The proposed fellowship would consist of the following elements: (i) A research programme looking at the governance of clean development in three countries in the global South. (ii) A linked PhD studentship to undertake primary research on the governance of clean development in India and South Africa (iii) A training element for government officials from developing countries drawing on lessons learned from the experiences of these countries focussed on 'Enabling Clean Development' alongside workshops in each of the case study countries and a final dissemination meeting in London (iv) A one-day workshop for postgraduate students on 'Theorising Climate Governance' (v) Two visiting fellowships for overseas researchers (vi) An extensive programme of policy engagement and dissemination.

There is growing interest in the potential for clean development projects, within and beyond the remit of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), to reconcile the needs of poorer groups for access to affordable and reliable energy sources with the need to tackle climate change. There is now a range of institutions and initiatives whose common aim is to enable the provision of clean development, ensuring social and environmental benefits, particularly for poorer countries of the global South. We know little, however, about the governance of clean development: which features of these actors, institutions, and policy-making processes are resulting in effective outcomes in terms of climate action and developmental benefits, which are not, and why. There are two aspects to this, which this research programme proposes to address. Firstly, what can broadly be described as 'governance from above': the increasing range of actors, public and private, international, regional and national, involved in the supply of clean development projects and initiatives. Secondly, 'governance from below': the governance mechanisms and processes at work in the recipient countries which shape the likelihood that such interventions result in the intended emissions savings and expected social benefits.

With regard 'governance from above' a key focus will of course be the CDM and the programmes sponsored and initiated by other public bodies such as the World Bank and bilateral donors. It is important, however, to go beyond the official public mechanisms and processes that exist for assessing, allocating and implementing projects for clean development. A critical examination of the governance of private finance for clean development will be central to this research. The scale of the governance challenge requires interventions across levels by a multitude of actors. It demands that we focus not only on delivering clean development through the institutions that work on a public to public basis, but that we consider the public governance of private finance as well as the private governance of private finance for clean development. These latter aspects are particularly neglected in current policy and academic thinking about responses to climate change.

With regard 'governance from below' the research will focus on the actors, institutions and policy-making processes in three key actors in the global climate change regime with sharply diverging degrees of success in delivering clean development: Argentina, India and South Africa. The case studies will analyse key factors that affect the ability of countries and investors to realise social and environmental gains as a way of identifying opportunities for change and reform that will better harness the prospects of alleviating poverty and tackling climate change simultaneously. This fellowship would, therefore, combine a range of research and outreach activities aimed at moving forward research and practice on the politics of clean development.
Effective start/end date1/10/0830/12/12


  • Economic and Social Research Council: £260,129.00