Keeping it in the ground? Assessing global governance for fossil-fuel supply reduction

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Restricting the international supply of fossil fuels is increasingly acknowledged as a necessary part of achieving long-term global temperature goals. However, the barriers to imposing such restrictions are immense. Issues of economic stability, equity, and associated geo-political tensions, are particularly acute. In theory, a managed decline can be facilitated by international cooperation. In practice, however, despite some apparent rhetorical commitments, adequate institutional responses have not been forthcoming. This paper highlights potentially relevant institutions, and assesses their combined contribution to fulfilling a set of governance functions relevant to decarbonisation in this case. The analysis finds that the governance challenges associated with deciding what fossil fuel carbon should be designated ‘unburnable’, and managing the associated equity-related, geo-political conflicts, are far from being fully recognised. Potential institutional reforms, by which governance gaps could be narrowed, are identified. These highlight the further potential of the G20, UNFCCC and WTO in particular.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100061
JournalEarth System Governance
Early online date1 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

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