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Responsive Regulation versus Network Governance: Towards Interorganizational Complexity in Net Zero Transition

September 13, 2023 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm EDT

Responsive Regulation versus Network Governance: Towards Interorganizational Complexity in Net Zero Transition


How should we think about how countries regulate the transition to net zero? Based on a Canadian case study and a review of scholarly literature and policy documents, my claim in the presentation is that we should think about it as an interorganizational complex of state and non-state regulation. State and non-state regulation are broad labels for making sense of the concept of regulation from the perspective of the role government plays, but there is no consensus on what they mean. I frame them within the field of law and society. Building on a leading taxonomy in this field (Baldwin et al, 1998), I view state and non-state regulation as a matter of degrees in a continuum ranging from command-and-control, emphasizing state coercion, to the broader idea of social control, which accommodates self-governance. Yet, command-and-control and social control are still too broad as concepts to help us think about the regulation of net zero transition. To address this problem, I use responsive regulation (Ayres and Braithwaite, 1992) to narrow state regulation and network governance (Kooiman, 1993; Rhodes, 1996; Jones et al, 1997; Kapucu and Hu, 2020) to narrow social control. I then apply key ideas from responsive regulation—hierarchy of enforcement, tit-for-tat action, and the principle of tripartism—to think about command-and-control and then adapt contrasting ideas from network governance—polycentrism, plurality, and multilateralism—to think about social control. Building on the ensuing analysis, I conclude that an interorganizational complex lens that takes account of state and non-state actors and how they regulate paints a more complete picture of the regulation of net zero transition than either responsive regulation or network governance alone. Overall, the analysis helps us think about why, where, and how to enhance the role of state and non-state actors in the regulation of net zero transition.


Temitope Onifade is an environmental law scholar currently working as a fulltime faculty member at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. He is also rounding off his Ph.D. on the regulation of low-carbon economies at the University of British Columbia. Working at a law firm in Benin city within the notorious Niger Delta area from 2010 to 2011 initially ignited his interest in the role of corporations in environmental issues. Later at another law firm from 2011 to 2014 in South-West Nigeria, Temi and his partners struggled to get government incentives for some clients, including farmers planting biofuel feedstock such as jatropha and a small company dealing in biodigesters, under the Kyoto Protocol. His experience in the Niger Delta and South-West Nigeria made him start thinking about how environmental laws and policies could help vulnerable communities and businesses. Building on that experience and his subsequent academic specialization in environmental and energy law and policy in Canada, his current research focuses on climate change and low-carbon transition. Most of his research contributions address the regulation, governance, and justice aspects of climate and low-carbon transition implications, renewable and other complementary energy technologies, and sustainable public and private finance as they impact government, business, and civil society actors mostly in Africa and Canada.

When and Where

Wednesday, September 13, 2023 11:00 am to 12:00 pm
Room 17018
Hydro Building
700 University Ave, 17th floor and Online

This event is hybrid:

Zoom: https://utoronto.zoom.us/j/81080670614
Meeting ID: 810 8067 0614; Passcode: 756298


September 13, 2023
11:00 am - 12:00 pm EDT
Event Category:


University of Toronto School of the Environment
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