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This article emphasizes the critical importance of the private sector to the success of the efforts to mitigate climate change. Analysing the progress and experiences gained so far, this article concentrates on the role of the private sector in the operationalization of the Kyoto Protocol's three flexible mechanisms, namely Joint Implementation (JI), the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and international emissions trading. The article illustrates in detail the various tasks performed by private actors during the CDM and JI project cycles, and contemplates their possible participation under Article 17 of the Protocol on international emissions trading. While identifying some challenges, the article argues that the Kyoto Protocol's flexible mechanisms have succeeded in finding innovative ways of involving the private sector in climate change mitigation and that the post-2012 climate regime should build on these experiences.