The last decade has seen a rapid increase within global governance of novel, non-binding ‘pledge-and-review’ approaches to dealing with contested global challenges, such as climate change. In such a novel approach, the transparency of country commitments becomes key.
Transparency is widely assumed, both in policy practice and scholarly literature, to help promote accountability, enhance trust and improve environmental outcomes through greater information disclosure. Yet these assumptions are still undertheorized, and their realization in practice has not been systematically analysed. This project addresses this crucial research gap, with a focus on voluntary climate commitments of countries relating to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
Elaborate transparency systems are now at the core of global climate governance, in order to ‘make visible’ what countries are doing, with the assumption that this facilitates accountability, enhances mutual trust and thereby helps to ratchet up climate ambition. Extensive resources are now being invested in these systems, with high policy expectations about the positive effects of climate transparency. But there is only anecdotal evidence available on what these systems in fact deliver. Over the next four years, the TRANSGOV project will undertake an urgently needed, theoretically informed, in-depth empirical analysis of variable country engagement with ever-expanding transparency arrangements in global climate governance and the political effects of such engagement. Through an innovative mixed-methods approach that includes developing a global data base of variable participation in these systems, as well as expert surveys, interviews and four national case studies, TRANSGOV will advance much-needed theoretical and empirical knowledge about transparency’s transformative potential in global governance.