ET.20.014 – The energy transition and the governance of the global commons

Route: Energy transition

Cluster question: 018 How can we quickly make our energy supply greener while keeping it affordable and reliable?

A main driver for the energy transition is the need to mitigate climate change. The governance of climate change is complex. There is a multitude of countries involved that need to work together under one umbrella framework. Next to that, it is increasingly clear that the energy transition is not only a matter of national governments, but also of many other parties, including companies, business associations, cities and municipalities, and other sub-national governments. The role of these parties was formally acknowledged in the Paris Agreement, and is often indicated as non-state climate action.
In the words of Elinor Ostrom, such a governance structure can be described as polycentric. In her work, Ostrom has shown how self-governance can work in the governance of common pool resources. The open question is how it works when dealing with climate change, which can be characterized as a global commons problem. As Ostrom has shown, effective performance monitoring and appropriate sanctioning are important requirements for any system of self-governance to work. So far, impact monitoring of energy and climate commitments can be considered one of the weak spots of the movement of non-state climate action.
Major research questions:
– How can non-state climate action be monitored? How large is the impact of non-state action on the energy transition? Is it possible to determine the additional impact of non-state action?
– What is the role of monitoring and sanctioning in the self-governance mechanisms in non-state action? How can monitoring be improved and sanctioning be strengthened?
– Can data science and data analytics help to improve monitoring? Is real-time monitoring of the energy transition and climate action possible?
– What are the ways in which climate action by nation states and energy transition activities by non-state entities interact? What is the role of performance monitoring on both sides?


energy transition, global commons, mitigation of climate change, Monitoring, non-state climate action

Other organisations

To be determined


Organisation Delft University of Technology
Name Prof. dr. K. (Kornelis) Blok