Document Type


Publication Date



Climate policy, Climate change


Climate change is commonly cast as a significant governance challenge demanding national and international actions. Subsequently, political science research tends to focus on the policy and politics of nation-states, their domestic institutions, and/or their interplay in international venues. However, thousands of industrial facilities and hundreds of subnational US governments are active in American climate risk governance. Therefore, we argue that more research should attend to climate governance’s subnational policy and politics, their promise, and their performance. In the vacuum of national policies to mitigate and adapt to climate-change, subnational arrangements offer an ideal opportunity to study not only the spontaneity of polycentrism, but whether or not it is leading to better environmental outcomes. This paper integrates polycentric theory and the environmental performance dilemma within the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework to guide the analysis of the multilevel comparative policy setting of U.S. environmental federalism. State and local government initiatives, or lack thereof, on climate change offer a quasi-experimental setting to examine the detailed decision-making and the role of information within polycentric governance arrangements. This paper adapts Ostrom’s IAD framework for this task and presents hypotheses to explore: (1) institutional diversity; (2) multilevel institutional nesting; (3) analytic deliberation; and their relation to (4) Greenhouse Gas Emission (GHG) reduction performance. The research design developed in this paper advances theory development and environmental policy analysis with the IAD framework to clarify key conceptual and methodological issues that enables the investigation and diagnosis of the institutions and interactions driving U.S. climate risk governance with both large and small-N studies.

Publication Title

Ostrom Workshop on the Workshop Five (WOW5)

Subjects - Topical (LCSH)

Climatic changes--United States; Climate change mitigation--Political aspects--United States--States; National security--United States

Geographic Coverage

United States


presentations (communicative events)