The Paris Agreement has opened up a new chapter in political efforts to tackle climate change. It provides a new flexible framework for moving the world towards decarbonization, leaving goal-setting and implementation up to states. The Paris Agreement also officially recognizes the importance of non-state (e.g. business and civil society) and sub-national (e.g. regions and cities) climate initiatives.
The climate regime thus combines top-down elements of international cooperation with bottom-up elements of voluntary societal climate action. This rapprochement of the realms of state and non-state climate action has potentially significant effects on the role of the state in climate policy-making. It challenges the state’s traditional role as rule-maker and regulator and instead invites governments to become networkers, coordinators and facilitators in what has been framed as polycentric climate governance (Jordan et al 2015). Climate actions by non-state and sub-national actors are gaining importance, particularly in the context of ‘Parxit’ (Haas 2017) – the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement in June 2017.
In this project, we seek to understand how the interplay between state and non-state climate action unfolds in the post-Paris climate policy landscape. To that end, we use Sweden’s official government policy to become the first fossil fuel-free welfare state as a case study. We examine the interactions between the Swedish state and non-state actors in emergent cooperative climate governance initiatives, assess the effectiveness and legitimacy of these interactions, and trace their political effects. The project will provide new insights into the possibilities for the Swedish government to mobilize and catalyze non-state climate action in the process of decarbonization.
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