Book - MIT Press

Carbon Coalitions: Business, Climate Politics, and the Rise of Emissions Trading

| October 2011


Jonas Meckling is a former postdoctoral fellow with the Energy Technology Innovation Policy research group (2007–2009) and with the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements (2009–2010).


Over the past decade, carbon trading has emerged as the industrialized world's primary policy response to global climate change despite considerable controversy. With carbon markets worth $144 billion in 2009, carbon trading represents the largest manifestation of the trend toward market-based environmental governance. In Carbon Coalitions, Jonas Meckling presents the first comprehensive study on the rise of carbon trading and the role business played in making this policy instrument a central pillar of global climate governance.

Meckling explains how a transnational coalition of firms and a few market-oriented environmental groups actively promoted international emissions trading as a compromise policy solution in a situation of political stalemate. The coalition sidelined not only environmental groups that favored taxation and command-and-control regulation but also business interests that rejected any emissions controls. Considering the sources of business influence, Meckling emphasizes the importance of political opportunities (policy crises and norms), coalition resources (funding and legitimacy,) and political strategy (mobilizing state allies and multilevel advocacy).

Meckling presents three case studies that represent milestones in the rise of carbon trading: the internationalization of emissions trading in the Kyoto Protocol (1989–2000); the creation of the EU Emissions Trading System (1998–2008); and the reemergence of emissions trading on the U.S. policy agenda (2001–2009). These cases and the theoretical framework that Meckling develops for understanding the influence of transnational business coalitions offer critical insights into the role of business in the emergence of market-based global environmental governance.

Praise for Carbon Coalitions:

"Carefully researched, wide-ranging, and accessibly written, Carbon Coalitions makes an important contribution to a rapidly growing literature both on business and global environmental governance, and on climate governance in particular. It provides an immensely useful and detailed political analysis of the rise of carbon trading and in doing so pulls together an interesting and diverse range of literatures on, for example, international relations, social movements, and varieties of capitalism."
Peter Newell, Professor of International Relations, University of Sussex

"Jonas Meckling provides the most detailed examination of carbon trading I have yet seen. What we gain from reading this book is a clearer understanding of business influence—the author's goal is not to explain climate change outcomes per se, but to explain the conditions under which business influence made a difference to those outcomes."
Virginia Haufler, Department of Government and Politics, University of Maryland


About This Book

Carbon Coalitions: Business, Climate Politics, and the Rise of Emissions Trading

Carbon Coalitions: Business, Climate Politics, and the Rise of Emissions Trading
For more information on this publication: Please contact Harvard Project on Climate Agreements
For Academic Citation: Meckling, Jonas. Carbon Coalitions: Business, Climate Politics, and the Rise of Emissions Trading. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, October 2011.

The Author