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In our latest episode of the Governance Podcast, Professor Mark Pennington interviews Professor Frans Berkhout of King’s College London on his latest book about climate governance. Tune in for a rich discussion on the limits of international coordination and how local experimentation can solve global commons dilemmas.

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The Guest

Frans Berkhout is Executive Dean of the Faculty of Social Science and Public Policy and Professor of Environment, Society and Climate at King’s College London. His latest book, published with Cambridge University Press, is Innovating Climate Governance: Moving Beyond Experiments.

From 2013-2015 he was Director of the Future Earth programme, based at the International Council for Science (ICSU) in Paris. Before that, Prof Berkhout directed the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) at the VU University Amsterdam in The Netherlands and led the Amsterdam Global Change Institute.

He has also held posts at SPRU (Science and Technology Policy Research), University of Sussex, and was Director of the UK Economic and Social Research Council’s Global Environmental Change and Sustainable Technologies programmes.

Among other advisory roles, Professor Berkhout was a lead author in the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (2014) and a member of the Social Science Panel of the Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) of the Higher Education Funding Council for England. He sits on the editorial boards of Research Policy, Global Environmental Change, Journal of Industrial Ecology, Current Opinion on Environmental Sustainability, Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions and The Anthropocene Review.

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Skip Ahead

 00:45: What was the motivation for your latest book?

5:15: What is experimentation in your framework? Is climate governance experimentation different from scientific experimentation?

10:15: Can you combine top down and bottom up approaches to climate governance?

15:25: Why do people at the local level take action on climate change?

19:35: How do local networks of experimentation get off the ground and get connected globally?

21:30: Some say that focusing on an experimental approach can serve as an excuse for a lack of coordination on climate change policy at the global scale. Others say global coordination is too slow and cumbersome. Can we reconcile this tension?

27:25: Do we always want local experiments to ripple out to a broader scale? Would they stop having contextual relevance?

31:45: What evidence do we have that local experiments are having a broader, more global effect?

35:00: Are we abandoning global coordination? Is there still a role for international policy?

39:17: What role does interdisciplinarity play in the study of climate change governance?

42:18: Do we have examples of networks of academic actors that experiment in social science approaches to climate governance?

45:03: What are the next research avenues for climate governance?

45:45: Are social scientists equipped to oversee the experiments? Are academics themselves complex enough to understand governance?