Climate Action performance Tracking

Click here for first working paper presenting results on the output perfomance of 52 Climate Actions announced at the 2014 UN Climate Summit.

Click here for our Climate Policy article “Effective and geographically balanced? An output-based assessment of non-state climate actions“. (Open Acccess)

The Global Aggregator for Climate Actions (GAFCA) and the ClimateSouth Database (CSD) aggregate data on initiatives by non-state and subnational actors (‘climate actions’) that address aspects of climate change, including mitigation and adaptation. GAFCA/CSD serve as tools in the analyses of a large set of climate actions in global climate governance. GAFCA/CSD analyses can inform strategic interventions by international organizations, governments and other ‘orchestrators’ of climate action, for example to broker new collaborative initiatives where they do not yet exist, or to support initiatives that (comparatively) underperform. The  sample of GAFCA/CSD consists of all cooperative climate actions launched at major international climate conferences and summits since 2014. The immediate policy relevance of tracking and analyzing this set of climate actions relates to the question of how the UN should follow up with climate actions that have been announced and launched.

GAFCA/CSD gather four types of data, namely on:
• Actors
• Organizational characteristics and target setting
• Geography of implementation
• Functions, outputs and ‘Function-Output-Fits’

The collection of data on actors renders an aggregate view of patterns of participation in climate actions, for instance ‘who participates in climate actions’; ‘which type of actors lead climate actions’; ‘how many and which types of businesses are involved in climate action’. Such data could be used to determine the extent to which climate actions engage underrepresented voices in the formal climate regime. Patterns of participation could also indicate to which extent climate actions are ‘northern driven’, or led by international organizations.

Organizational characteristics
Organizational characteristics, for instance on ‘institutional openness’ (whether a climate action is open for new partners), monitoring arrangements, and staffing, indicate varying degrees of institutionalization. In several studies deeper institutionalization has been associated with greater effectiveness. Organizational characteristics could therefore indicate the likelihood of an action’s effectiveness, even when it has only been launched recently. Target-setting, moreover, indicates the potential of a climate action.

Geography of implementation
GAFCA/CSD gather data on the countries of implementation, of climate actions that allow for a better understanding of the geographic focus of climate actions. In the context of global climate governance, this question is extremely relevant because the greatest financial and policy deficits to abate, and to adapt to, climate change are found in developing countries, in particular the least developed and low-lying ones. Based on data on geography of implementation, international organizations, governments and other orchestrators could strategically steer towards undoing imbalances.

GAFCA/CSD’s main dependent variable is the Function-Output-Fit (FOF). The computing of FOF requires (1) an explicit and well-defined range of functions; (2) explicit and well-defined categories of outputs; and (3) a theoretical linking between functions and necessary outputs. The underlying logic is that a climate action’s declared aim (or function) should be consistent with its outputs. For instance, a climate initiative declaring training as its function should be expected to produce a curricular programme and to organize seminars. Conversely, a training initiative that produces knowledge (and nothing else) may be considered ‘active’, but its output would not fit its declared training function.

GAFCA/CSD distinguish 12 functional categories, and 26 output categories.

Subsequent analyses could inform more strategic efforts to orchestrate non-state actions in a fundamentally fragmented climate governance environment. Moreover, the publication of GAFCA/CSD effectiveness analyses could stimulate greater transparency and effectiveness among climate actions, eventually inspiring an upward cycle of non-state and subnational climate ambitions.

Research teams


Dr Sander Chan, German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
Dr Robert Falkner, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Matthew Goldberg (LSE)
Dr Harro van Asselt, Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and University of Eastern Finland

ClimateSouth Initiatives Database (CSD)

Dr Sander Chan, German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)

Dr Thomas Hale, Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford

GAFCA: DIE, LSE, Climate Policy Innovation Fund by ESRC Center for Climate Change Economics & Policy

CSD: DIE, Volkswagen Foundation

climate policy & sustainability researcher – advisor – activist – Kandidaat @Groenlinks Europese Verkiezingen 2019