This article examines the origin, process, and outcome of an understudied, but important multilateral climate change negotiation: the OECD negotiation to restrict export finance for coal‐fired power projects. It assesses how the United States – the OECD’s most powerful member – led the negotiations, and how Japan, South Korea, and China – a non‐OECD state – affected the negotiation’s outcome. It shows how internal and external dynamics of the negotiation under the shadow of China’s rising market influence shaped the preferences of Japan and South Korea in such a way that constrained US attempts to build new rules in curbing coal export finance. This research illustrates the collective action problem in an increasingly fragmented global governance landscape driven by transitions in global power. Contrary to critics that have identified China’s participation in multilateral organizations as weakening the global liberal order, this research shows that a ‘club‐based’ approach to this liberal order proved ineffective absent China’s participation.
- Chinese, South Korean, and Japanese export credit agencies (ECAs) –the top three purveyors of financing for coal‐fired power projects in developing countries – should take drastic measures in cutting their coal portfolios in order to achieve their Paris Agreement commitments.
- OECD policy makers need to review and update the coal‐fired electricity generation sector Understanding to be more effective in curbing global carbon emissions.
- OECD policy makers need to address loopholes in their current ECA rules to strengthen the regime’s governing functions. To be successful, this task must include continued engagement with China.
- Expand the ECA regime to include non‐OECD countries, particularly China. Accomplishing this task – specifically the need to engage China – requires continued and consistent United States leadership, which under the current administration is in short supply.