With halting progress in climate negotiations, there are growing calls for partnerships among self-selected pools of countries, in the expectation that they would facilitate consensus (among both developed and developing countries) and result in faster decision making. In critically examining such a claim, this paper asks: what kinds of partnerships could facilitate coordinated climate-related action across several countries? By focusing largely on technology partnerships (a key demand in climate negotiations), it examines characteristics of successful partnerships and the conditions under which they are created and sustained. While the motivations of existing partnerships are diverse, their functional scope has remained limited. A review of more than 30 initiatives reveals that very few had been designed to extend beyond sharing knowledge and some preliminary research and development activities. Even fewer had enlarged functional focus on actual transfer of equipment, joint production or extensive deployment mandates. The paper intensively analyzes the purpose, membership and governance of four partnerships. Drawing on their lessons, the paper identifies critical features — appropriate financing, leveraging capacity, flexible intellectual property rules and coordination across several institutions — which could become the foundation of new partnerships to deliver measurable action and possibly increase trust among negotiating parties.