The strength of weakness: pseudo-clubs in the climate regime

Jessica F. Green

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The political utility of clubs hinges on their ability to provide excludable benefits to members. But in some cases of climate clubs, membership is not easily demarcated, and excludable benefits may be minimal. I argue that these governance initiatives—where membership is fluid and benefits are small—are more accurately defined as “pseudo-clubs.” Though they function differently than conventional clubs, “pseudo-clubs” can have considerable political utility. They can lay the foundations for emissions mitigation by solving technical problems associated with the measurement of GHGs. Moreover, since they have low entry costs and minimal sanctions, they can easily attract large numbers of users. With broad membership “pseudo-clubs” can help promote the uptake of standards, potentially solving coordination problems. However, since measurement is only a precursor to reduction, ultimately, incentives to measure will have to be coupled with rules to reduce emissions. Environmentally effective pseudo-clubs will eventually need the help of governments to shift from coordinating emissions measurement to cooperating on emissions reduction. Pseudo-clubs can serve as an initial building block toward meaningful climate action, but governments will have to finish the job.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)41-52
    Number of pages12
    JournalClimatic Change
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Global and Planetary Change
    • Atmospheric Science


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