As the TRANSGOV project unfolds, we are working on several themes that are central to the study of transparency in global climate governance and the transformative effects often ascribed to it.
Mapping and explaining engagement
As a start, TRANSGOV first maps country engagement in multilateral climate transparency arrangements under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The central question addressed is: What is the nature and extent of country participation in UNFCCC climate transparency arrangements?
As a next step, TRANSGOV explains the observed nature and extent of country engagement in UNFCCC climate transparency arrangements. Why do countries engage (or not) in climate transparency arrangements? What are the rationales for engaging in multilateral transparency arrangements? How can we explain observed patterns of engagement?
Transparency, accountability and ambition
TRANSGOV is ultimately interested in understanding the effects of country engagement in multilateral climate transparency arrangements. One key focus is on the link between transparency and accountability.
In what ways, and under what conditions, does enhanced transparency enhance accountability, if at all? There is almost no systematic empirical assessment of this widely asserted link. Another key focus is on the link between transparency and enhanced climate actions. When and how does enhanced transparency help to ratchet up climate ambition, if at all?
Capacity building for transparency
Within the the UNFCCC, extensive human and financial resources are now being devoted to building the capacities of developing countries (including least developed countries and small-island developing states) to participate in enhanced climate transparency arrangements. What are the political effects of this extensive push for capacity building? How is capacity building of developing countries to generate more climate transparency linked to enhancing ambitious and fair collective climate action?
TRANSGOV addresses these questions through a systematic analysis of the nature, extent and effects of capacity-building initiatives under the UNFCCC, both in a multilateral context and in particular national contexts.
The role of transparency in financialization of climate risks
It is clear that addressing risks associated with climate change will require significant financial investment, especially in developing countries. However, how such investments will be delivered matters a great deal in the context of equitable and just approaches to resolving such risks.
TRANSGOV investigates how transparency is being used to promote financialized approaches to climate risk. Financialization can be seen as a technology of power comprised of financial investors, firms, and calculative techniques such as quantification, accounting and measurability that can capture qualitative phenomena such as climate change. A key concern is that such approaches might push debt-based insurance products with high premiums where pay-outs are only triggered by opaque and proprietary risk modelling systems.
Radical climate transparency
Finally, TRANSGOV also examines the interface between UNFCCC climate transparency arrangements and the radical climate transparency now possible through use of novel, digital technologies. By radical transparency, we understand availability in real time of ever-growing quantities of climate-relevant information, through use of digital technologies such as remote sensing, satellites, block-chain or mobile devices. Such radical transparency is being generated by both states and non-state actors.
TRANSGOV examines the extent to which radical climate transparency supports or upends multilaterally negotiated transparency systems, including their politically negotiated scope and desired effects.