Transparency and Accountability in Global Climate Governance

Transparency is one of the most widely touted concepts of our age, resonating across diverse global policy domains, including in the realm of sustainability. The driving force behind a transparency turn in global environmental governance is the unwavering belief in its potential to foster more accountable, democratic and effective sustainability actions and outcomes. Yet does transparency fulfil these promises? This project explores whether transparency is indeed a transformative force, including in climate governance.

Transparency and the Paris Agreement: The climate agreement adopted in Paris in December 2015 calls for a bottom-up ‘pledge-and-review’ approach to climate action, with an ‘enhanced transparency framework’ applicable to all countries envisioned to be a key pillar of the agreement. Through making visible who is doing what, transparency is assumed to be fundamental to holding countries to account for meeting their obligations, enhancing trust, and furthering fair and ambitious climate action. This research explores whether transparency indeed generates such transformative effects.

Transparency of land-based climate mitigation -- the politics of measuring, reporting and verification systems: Accounting for land-based mitigation, and the growing reliance on monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) systems herein, are key sites of political contestation and negotiation in multilateral climate governance. Do MRV systems help to make visible, enhance accountability and improve climate-related performance?

Transparency in anticipatory governance of climate engineering: It is particularly urgent to examine the role of transparency and information disclosure in areas requiring anticipatory transparency, for example, governance of novel technologies such as geoengineering, where ex-ante governance is being contemplated in the face of extreme scientific uncertainty and normative and political conflict about the very nature of the governance challenge, as well as existence, nature and distribution of risk and harm.

International Conference:

Disclosing Sustainability: The Transformative Power of Transparency? (Including programme and videos)

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Gupta, Aarti, and Harro van Asselt. 2017.Transparency in multilateral climate politics: Furthering (or distracting from) accountability? Regulation & Governance, doi: 10.1111/rego.12159. Available here

Dooley, Kate, and Aarti Gupta. 2016. Governing by Expertise: the Contested Politics of (Accounting for) Land-Based Mitigation in a New Climate Agreement. International Environmental Agreements. Open Access, available here.

Gupta, Aarti and Michael Mason. 2016 Disclosing or Obscuring: the Politics of Transparency in Global Climate Governance, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 18: 82-90. Available here

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Gupta, Aarti, and Michael Mason. 2015. Transparency (Making climate governance visible: the transformative potential of transparency?) Research Handbook of Climate Governance, edited by Karen Bäckstrand and Eva Lövbrand, pp. 446-457. Edward Elgar.

Gupta, Aarti, Till Pistorius and Marjanneke J. Vijge. 2016. Managing Fragmentation in Global Environmental Governance: the REDD+ Partnership as Bridge Organization. International Environmental Agreements, 16, 3, 355–374. Open Access, available here.


Gupta, Aarti, Marjanneke J. Vijge, Esther Turnhout, and Till Pistorius. 2014. Making REDD+ Transparent: the Politics of Measuring, Reporting and Verification systems. In Transparency in Global Environmental Governance: Critical Perspectives, edited by Aarti Gupta and Michael Mason, pp. 181-201. Cambridge (MA): MIT Press

Gupta, Aarti, Eva Lövbrand, Esther Turnhout and Marjanneke Vijge, 2012. In Pursuit of Carbon Accountability: the Politics of REDD+ Measuring, Reporting and Verification Systems. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 4, 6: 726-731. Available here

Biermann, Frank, and Aarti Gupta. 2011. Accountability and Legitimacy in Earth System Governance: a Research Framework. Ecological Economics, 70, 11:1856-1864. Available here