Non-state actors in global climate governance: from Copenhagen to Paris and beyond

‘Together now!’ was the slogan used in the invitation to the Marrakesh Partnership for Global Climate Action (GCA), an initiative launched on the second day of the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Marrakesh in November 2016. During this event, the two high-level champions nominated by COP as an outcome of the Paris Agreement – the French Ambassador in charge of climate negotiations Laurence Tubiana and the Moroccan Minister of Environment Hakima El Haité – called upon businesses, regions, cities, industries and NGOs to showcase their climate activities and partner with states in the transition to the low carbon society. The champions’ effort to mobilize non-state climate action pre-2020 coincides with the launch during the last week of COP 22 of the 2050 Pathway Platform. Informed by the same cooperative spirit, this multi-stakeholder initiative rests upon a broad coalition among 15 cities, 22 states and 200 companies seeking to devise long-term, net zero, climate-resilient and sustainable development pathways.

In this publication, we advance the concept of ‘hybrid multilateralism’ as a heuristic to capture this intensified interplay between state and non-state actors in the new landscape of international climate cooperation. We take the term non-state actor to include not only civil society and social movements, but also economic actors (business and trade unions) and subnational or substate actors (regional local governments, cities and municipalities).