What are the implications of the current international political, and economic settings for consumer policy, and, in particular, those regarding sustainable consumption? In terms of improvements in the efficiency of consumption, the settings have induced efforts to this effect and show potential for further progress. In terms of necessary changes in consumption levels and patterns, however, little progress has been made since the Rio Summit nor is there likely to be any in the near future. These two dimensions of sustainable consumption need to be differentiated, as there is a substantial amount of controversy regarding our ability to achieve sustainable consumption on the basis of improvements in efficiency alone. The paper traces these differences with respect to the work of the major international governmental organizations (IGOs) engaged in developing sustainable consumption governance. It argues that the lack of commitment to strong sustainable consumption among IGOs can be explained by their “weakness” as actors in global governance and the existence of strong opposing interests among consumers and business actors.