With this paper we present an analysis of sixty transnational governance initiatives and assess the implications for our understanding of the roles of public and private actors, the legitimacy of governance 'beyond' the state, and the North–South dimensions of governing climate change. In the fi rst part of the paper we examine the notion of transnational governance and its applicability in the climate change arena, refl ecting on the history and emergence of transnational governance initiatives in this issue area and key areas of debate. In the second part of the paper we present the fi ndings from the database and its analysis. Focusing on three core issues, the roles of public and private actors in governing transnationally, the functions that such initiatives perform, and the ways in which accountability for governing global environmental issues might be achieved, we suggest that signifi cant distinctions are emerging in the universe of transnational climate governance which may have considerable implications for the governing of global environmental issues. In conclusion, we refl ect on these fi ndings and the subsequent consequences for the governance of climate change.