Belfer Center Home > Publications > Books and Book Chapters > Books > Carbon Coalitions: Business, Climate Politics, and the Rise of Emissions Trading

EmailEmail   PrintPrint Bookmark and Share

<em>Carbon Coalitions: Business, Climate Politics, and the Rise of Emissions Trading</em>

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

Book, MIT Press

October 2011

Author: Jonas Meckling, Former Research Fellow, Geopolitics of Energy Project, 2010–2012; Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, 2009–2010; Energy Technology Innovation Policy research group, 2007–2009

Ordering Information for this publication

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Energy Technology Innovation Policy; Environment and Natural Resources; Harvard Project on Climate Agreements; Science, Technology, and Public Policy



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



For more information about this publication please contact the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements Coordinator at 617-496-8054.

For Academic Citation:

Meckling, Jonas. Carbon Coalitions: Business, Climate Politics, and the Rise of Emissions Trading. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, October 2011.

Document Length: 240 pp.

Bookmark and Share

Events Calendar

We host a busy schedule of events throughout the fall, winter and spring. Past guests include: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former Vice President Al Gore, and former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev.