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Conclusion: Pioneers, leaders, followers in multilevel and polycentric climate governance re-assessed

Paul, Tobin; Wurzel, Rudi; Skou Andersen, Mikael


Tobin Paul

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Professor Rudi Wurzel
Professor of Comparative European Politics and Jean Monnet Chair in European Union Studies.

Mikael Skou Andersen


Mikael Skou Andersen

Paul Tobin


As outlined in Chapter 1, the core analytical themes of this book are: the conceptualisation of pioneers, leaders and followers within multilevel governance (MLG) and polycentric (climate) governance structures. These conceptual framings are overlapping and mutually supportive in the quest for greater analytical purchase. Specifically, as most cases exhibit different forms of leadership and pioneership – and even, perhaps simultaneously, followership and possibly also laggardness – MLG and polycentricity permit such complex identities to be located and examined in detail, by enabling the multifaceted 21st century state to be examined from multiple angles. The theoretical insights and empirical findings obtained across this book suggest that while pioneership and leadership may be more commonly associated with the Global North – especially following the explicit allocation of primary responsibility for climate action to developed ‘Annex I’ states via the 1997 Kyoto Protocol – they may be increasingly found across the globe. Indeed, as the chapters in this volume show, there are instances of climate leadership and pioneership within the Global South and followership within the Global North, as well as the other way round. Although the 2015 Paris Agreement emphasises again the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR), it requires all parties to put forward voluntary pledges in the form of NDCs. Climate leadership and pioneership from countries in both the Global North and South will therefore be important for achieving the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping global temperatures to well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. In order to find instances of ambition, the book’s use of MLG and polycentricity as guiding themes enables contributing authors to find climate leadership and pioneership beyond the ‘usual suspects’, and to acknowledge both the guidance of the state, and the importance of non-state actors.


Paul, T., Wurzel, R., & Skou Andersen, M. (2021). Conclusion: Pioneers, leaders, followers in multilevel and polycentric climate governance re-assessed. In R. K. Wurzel, M. S. Andersen, & P. Tobin (Eds.), Climate Governance across the Globe Pioneers, Leaders and Followers (259-267). Abingdon: Routledge

Acceptance Date Oct 22, 2020
Online Publication Date Dec 31, 2020
Publication Date 2021
Deposit Date Dec 23, 2020
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2022
Publisher Routledge
Pages 259-267
Series Title Routledge Research in Comparative Politics
Book Title Climate Governance across the Globe Pioneers, Leaders and Followers
Chapter Number 14
ISBN 9780367434366
Keywords Climate leaders, pioneers, followers, multilevel governance, polycentric governance
Public URL
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Conclusion (423 Kb)

Copyright Statement
© 2021 editorial matter Rudiger K.W. Wurzel, Mikael Skou Andersen and Paul Tobin.

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