This working group analyzes options for governing the global commons. It focuses on actors and institutions relevant to climate policy at multiple levels (e.g., international, national, subnational). In doing so, the researchers analyze policy instruments with the aim to identify politically feasible short-term policy entry points into sustainable long-term decarbonization pathways.


Team members

Leitung: Prof. Dr. Christian Flachsland

Dr. Ulrike Kornek
Dr. Anna Leipprand
Kilian Raiser
Sebastian Levi
Marcel Dorsch


Research topics

The group’s research focuses on the institutional requirements for achieving the 2°C target. Key questions are: How can the Paris Agreement be developed further to gradually increase the level of ambition of national climate policies? Which policy options lead to ambitious decarbonization pathways in multi-level governance settings? How can the interests of different actor groups be taken into account? The team also investigates how discourses in politics, science and society interact with processes of political change. Their methods include institutional analyses, analytical and numerical game theory, case studies and discourse analyses.


Research projects

At the international level, the researchers analyze how transfer payments from multilateral funds (such as the Green Climate Fund) can be designed to strengthen cooperation within the Paris Agreement. The AHEAD project, for example, compares political and economic experiences with the introduction of ambitious climate policy in Germany and California. The group collaborates with researchers from Resources for the Future, UC Berkeley and PIK. Furthermore, the team investigates carbon pricing instruments. One focus is the European Emissions Trading System and possible reform options such as a minimum price. In the context of the German-Australian START project, the scientists analyze the political economy of the energy transition within the multi-level system of the European Union and Germany in a dynamic perspective (policy sequencing). Another research interest in this project is the long-term development of political discourses around climate, coal and energy.


Current publications

Heitzig, J.; Kornek, U., 2018

Bottom-up linking of carbon markets under far-sighted cap coordination and reversibility

Nature Climate Change
Peer Review
Leipprand, A.; Flachsland, C. , 2018

Regime destabilization in energy transitions: The German debate on the future of coal

Energy Research & Social Science
Peer Review
Rose, A., Wei, D., Miller, N., Vandyck, T., & Flachsland, C., 2018

Policy Brief—Achieving Paris Climate Agreement Pledges: Alternative Designs for Linking Emissions Trading Systems

Review of Environmental Economics and Policy
Peer Review

Sign up for the MCC newsletter.