This chapter introduces the concept of private climate governance and argues that private sector action provides a promising opportunity to reduce climate change risks, buying time while governments move slowly or even oppose climate mitigation.
Despite the optimism arising from the Paris Agreement, international, national and subnational climate mitigation is not on track to generate a global emissions pathway that will substantially reduce the risk of catastrophic climate change. Much of the resistance to climate mitigation is grounded in solution aversion—concern about the role of government—and this chapter outlines why private initiatives can bypass this problem.
The chapter provides a roadmap for the book, summarizing how the book draws on law, policy, social science and climate science to demonstrate the growth of private climate governance and why private climate initiatives are able to avoid government gridlock. The chapter outlines the case made in the rest of the book: that expansion of existing private initiatives and development of new initiatives can reduce global carbon emissions by a billion tons per year over the next decade. Private governance initiatives will not solve the climate problem, but they can buy time for shifts in public support for government action.