This article uses the lens of accountability to explore the shifting strategies of a range of civil society groups in their engagement with key actors in the global regime on climate change. It first reviews traditional strategies aimed at increasing the ‘public accountability’ of governments and UN bodies for agreed actions on climate change. This approach is then compared with the growing tendency to pursue the accountability of private corporations with respect to climate change. These strategies aim, among other things, to promote ‘civil regulation’: that is, governance of the private sector through civil society oversight. The final part of the article reflects on the possibilities and limitations of civil society actors performing such accountability roles in the contemporary politics of climate change and suggests key challenges for future climate advocacy. It argues that success in enhancing the accountability of public and private actors on the issue of climate change has been highly uneven and reflects both the effectiveness of the strategies adopted and the responsiveness of the target actors and institutions.