In 2015, the High Ambition Coalition (HAC), an amalgamation of developed and developing countries, entered the world stage at COP21 in Paris. In the presentation based on my master thesis, I assess the past performance and the potential future role of the HAC in climate governance. For this purpose, it is drawn from relevant findings from coalition and negotiation theory, game theory, behavioural economics and experimental games, and the consideration of climate clubs in international relations.

Based on a negotiation analysis, the past performance of the HAC is evaluated positively. However, the analysis of national climate policies reveals many challenges – the level of ambition in nine scrutinised HAC member countries is not significantly higher compared to one analysed non-member.

Moreover, due to the new presidency of Donald Trump in the U.S., the HAC will likely no longer exist as it entered the arena during COP21. Thus, the potential to turn into a ‘transformational climate club’ can only be realised if certain enthusiastic HAC members are willing to lead and increase their ambition, thereby making use of different aspects of the Paris Agreement to ensure a synergistic relationship to the UNFCCC.