Analyses of climate engineering (CE) governance have accelerated in the last decade. A key claim is that CE remains a largely ungoverned space, with shared norms, institutional arrangements, and formal rules to regulate CE not yet present. In contrast, here it is argued that de facto governance of CE is underway, discernible in an ordering of this nascent field of inquiry by unacknowledged sources of steering. One key source of de facto governance is analyzed: high-level ‘authoritative assessments’ of CE. The focus is on how these assessments are constructing CE as an object of governance through demarcating and categorizing this emerging field of inquiry, and how this contributes to normalizing and institutionalizing CE research (and CE research communities). Scrutinizing the distinct nature and political implications of de facto governance, particularly of novel and speculative technological trajectories not yet subject to formal steering, remains a key task for governance scholars.
Keywords: De facto governance, climate engineering, geoengineering, scientific assessments, carbon dioxide removal, solar radiation management
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