This article analyzes the interplay between transparency and accountability in multilateral climate politics. The 2015 Paris Agreement calls for a “pledge-and-review” approach to collective climate action with an “enhanced transparency framework” as a key pillar of the Agreement. By making visible who is doing what, transparency is widely assumed to be vital to holding countries to account and building trust. We explore whether transparency is generating such effects in this context, by developing and applying an analytical framework to examine the link between transparency and accountability. We find that the scope and practices of climate transparency reflect (rather than necessarily reduce) broader conflicts over who should be held to account to whom and about what, with regard to responsibility and burden sharing for ambitious climate action. We conclude that the relationship between transparency and accountability is less straightforward than assumed, and that the transformative promise of transparency needs to be reconsidered in this light.
- climate governance
- Paris Agreement
- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)