How do Actors Assert Authority over Issues in Transnational Climate Governance? A Case Study on the European Union Emission Trading System – The World’s Largest Carbon Market and the Cornerstone of the EU’s Policy to Combat Climate Change

David Edward Maher & Emil Hørlyck Jantzen

Student thesis: Master thesis


[Aim] The aim of this thesis is to contribute to the International Political Economy (IPE) literature with new context-specific knowledge by exploring how actors assert authority over issues in transnational climate governance. This research question is operationalized with a case on the European Union Emission Trading System (EU ETS).
[Theoretical Framework] The theoretical framework is informed by three complementary theoretical perspectives. These are: “Transnational Legal Orders”, “Interactionist Social Ecology Theory of Global Lawmaking” and “Issue Control in Transnational Professional and Organizational Networks”. We integrate these three theoretical perspectives to build a theorized causal mechanism to explore how actors engage in processes of strategic social interaction by forming issue-ecologies and strategically position themselves in the social space of them to assert authority over TLOs.
[Research Design] The research design is inspired by the “Research Onion”. This “Onion” has six layers, with each layer illustrating a stage in our research process. The six layers are: research philosophy, research approach, methodological choice, research strategy, time horizon, and techniques and procedures for data collection and data analysis.
[Empirical Findings] Empirical evidence for our causal mechanism has been found. We found that professional actors (the cause) have formed an issue-ecology around the EU ETS TLO and that some of the professionals have strategically positioned themselves in this issue-ecology to assert authority over the EU ETS TLO (the outcome).
[Conclusion] It can be concluded that professional actors have been able to circumvent and manipulate organizational actors in their battles for authority over the EU ETS TLO.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages587
SupervisorsLeonard Seabrooke