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National models of climate governance among major emitters

An Author Correction to this article was published on 09 May 2023

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National climate institutions structure the process of climate mitigation policymaking and shape climate policy ambition and performance. Countries have, for example, been building science bodies, passing climate laws and creating new agencies. Here we provide the first systematic comparison of climate institutions across 21 of the largest emitters. Drawing on an original dataset, we identify in a bottom-up cluster analysis four national models of climate governance: Climate Technocracies, Climate Developmentalists, Carbon Fragmentists and Carbon Centralists. These national models of climate governance are associated with policy ambition and performance. Climate Technocracies and Developmentalists tend to score higher than Carbon Fragmentists and Centralists in policy ambition and performance. The relative ambition of national models of governance is associated with some macro-institutional and macro-economic features, but not others. This suggests potential for domestic and international policymakers to invest in building national climate institutions across country settings to strengthen climate policy capacity.

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Fig. 1: Climate institutions and the policy process.
Fig. 2: National models of climate governance.
Fig. 3: Association of models of governance with climate policy ambition and performance.
Fig. 4: Sectoral coverage by national model of climate governance.
Fig. 5: Models of climate governance.

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Data availability

The dataset is available as Supplementary Data. The data are formatted for Microsoft Excel and include both our original datasets on climate institutions and sectoral scope as well as the third-party data on climate policy ambition and performance described in Methods. We describe the coding scheme for the original dataset in Supplementary Discussions 1 and 2 and in the Supplementary Data file.

Code availability

We will provide the code for the hierarchical cluster analysis upon request.

Change history


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We thank our team of research assistants for their invaluable contribution to the data collection process: S. Bui, N. Campbell, H. Crane, A. Jessa, M. Kim, O. Khanna, S. Mahavni, Y. Perez, V. Rubtsova, Y. Yao, E. Yen and J. Zhu; T. Fransen and E. Lachapelle for extensive feedback; members of the Energy and Environmental Policy Lab and Center on the Politics of Development at the University of California, Berkeley, as well as attendees of the 2022 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association for insightful feedback. We acknowledge funding from the Berkeley Economy and Society Initiative. E.S. acknowledges funding by the European Research Council (EU’s Horizon 2020 programme), Grant Agreement 853050. J.M. acknowledges funding by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Hatch Project Accession Number 1020688.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



J.M. and J.G. conceived the study. J.G. led the development of theory and corresponding operationalization/measurement strategy, with the guidance of J.M. J.G. supervised and contributed to the data collection process. J.M. guided data collection. E.S. designed the methodology, executed the data analysis and produced all tables and figures. J.G. and J.M. contributed equally to the drafting of the manuscript. E.S. contributed to writing and editing.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jonas Meckling.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

Peer review

Peer review information

Nature Climate Change thanks Shaikh Eskander and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Extended data

Extended Data Fig. 1 Dendrogram for clustering.

Colours indicate different cluster groups: Climate Technocracies (blue), Carbon Fragmentists (grey), Carbon Centralists (red) and Climate Developmentalists (yellow).

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Discussions 1–3, Tables 1–17.

Reporting Summary

Supplementary Data 1

Original and third-party data used in the analysis.

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Guy, J., Shears, E. & Meckling, J. National models of climate governance among major emitters. Nat. Clim. Chang. 13, 189–195 (2023).

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