This article clarifies the outcome of the Copenhagen climate conference from the perspective of a government delegate. Access behind closed doors reveals the full extent of the damage. The failure at Copenhagen was worse than our worstcase scenario but should not obscure a bigger and brighter picture. Aggregate climate governance is in healthy condition that contrasts with the plight of multilateral climate governance. While the multilateral UN process is damaged, multilevel governance comprising regional, national and local climate policies worldwide is steadily gaining speed. The challenge to the academic community is to develop a composite measure of multilevel governance that captures aggregate public and nonstate policy initiatives at various levels.

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Author notes


I thank Canada's Social Science and Humanities Research Council, Earl Saxon, Ted Parson, Matthew Paterson, Jennifer Clapp, Michelle Parlevliet, Milya Dimitrova, and gep-ed list members for valuable support and intellectually stimulating conversations.