Chapter 8, "Objections"

This chapter examines three objections to private climate governance.

It first recognizes that legitimate concerns exist about the accountability of private governance initiatives, and it explores a range of alternative accountability mechanisms that have been or can be deployed by private initiatives. The chapter then turns to the concern that private initiatives are too embedded in the market economy to make deep emissions reductions. The logic behind this argument is that firms that reduce emissions beyond the point at which reductions maximize profits ultimately will be outcompeted by firms that choose not to do so, and thus a shift away from a market economy is necessary. The chapter acknowledges the importance of this concern, but it argues that a fundamental change in the global market economy is very unlikely occur in the time frame necessary for substantial emissions reductions. The chapter concludes by examining concerns that private climate initiatives generate inequitable distribution of the benefits and burdens of climate mitigation. We share many of the concerns raised in the literature on climate justice, but we view these concerns through the lens of the theme raised throughout this book: As compared to what viable alternative? We also identify ways that private governance can address these concerns, such as the use of supply chain contracting initiatives as avenues for private wealth, information and technology transfers from developed to developing countries. We conclude by noting that the most under-represented people in climate negotiations are the hundreds of generations of descendants of people living in poverty today and that tackling the climate problem with a sense of urgency and priority is the best way to address the concerns of this population.