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COST Event: Governing the Global Climate Polity: Rationality, Practice and Power

Event start: 20110618
End date: 20110620

Event description

Workshop in brief:

The Lund Workshop will provide an opportunity to compare and contrast the rationalities, techniques, and actor-networks that orchestrate climate governance, and to consider what it may mean to speak of ‘the global climate polity’ as a knowable and manageable political space.

The workshop will take the form of keynote lectures, paper presentations and roundtable discussions based on short ‘intervention’ pieces related to both the conceptual contributions that alternative theories of climate governance may provide and to the distinct rationalities and techniques of climate government that shape the global climate polity.

The workshop is an activity of the Working Group 1 of the Earth System Governance Affiliated Project COST Action IS0802 “The Transformation of Global Environmental Governance: Risks and Opportunities (TGEG).


Sunday June 19th: Arrival and check-in

Monday June 20th: 9.00 – 17.00 Workshop, 19.00 Dinner

Tuesday June 21st: 9.00 – 14.00 Workshop, Departures

Lund is easily accessible from the Copenhagen Airport (CPH) or Copenhagen Central Train Station. Direct trains (40 min) run 3-6 times per hour.

Workshop outline:

The last twenty years has seen the emergence of a burgeoning literature on global governance. It was the seminal contributions of James Rosenau who identified that ‘governance without government’ was present in many issue areas, conducted through emerging ‘spheres of authority’ (Rosenau 1990, 1997). In the realm of climate politics, scholars have increasingly sought to understand the ways in which climate change is being governed ‘beyond the state’, through different kinds of emerging institutionalized arenas (e.g. Pattberg and Stripple 2008). Such perspective takes into account governance mechanisms with public, hybrid and private sources of authority. Here, the argument goes, actors deliberately seek to address the problem of climate change outside of formal regulations or requirements of state agencies. The institutionalisation of climate governance ‘beyond the state’ in a networked system for governing at the global level is similar to what Ruggie (2004) has called the reconstitution of a global public domain. As a domain, it does not replace states but ‘embed systems of governance in broader global frameworks of social capacity and agency that did not previously exist’ (Ruggie 2004: 519). While scholarship in this area is pointing to the important roles of such arenas and institutions in governing climate change, particularly in relation to emerging carbon markets, we have yet to develop our understanding of how governing is achieved in these arenas in the absence of the formal authority of the state.

An anchoring point for the workshop is the idea of a global climate polity, which is seen to be constructed when a set of actors (‘governance subjects’) agree upon the existence of the climate as an object of governance that impinge on the identities of those actors (Corry 2010). The global climate polity can be understood as sets of interrelated practices with a distinct logics or rationalities. In seeking to address these issues, of understanding the ways in which governing is accomplished in the global climate polity, there is growing interest in the analysis of the ‘practical’ means through which it is pursued, an agenda to which perspectives from governmentality and actor network theories (ANT) might be seen as particularly well suited (Okereke et al. 2009; Sending and Neumann 2006; 2010, Bulkeley 2006). Such an analysis would require a shift beyond a concern with the actors and institutions that constitute the transnational domain and the governance functions which they undertake to an examination of the ways in which the climate problematic is constituted, and the particular techniques, data, artifacts and so on that are deployed in order to enact particular governmental programmes (Lövbrand et al. 2008; Oels 2005; Paterson and Stripple 2010, Death 2010). The Lund Workshop proposes to develop this agenda by critically examining how, why and with what implications particular forms of climate governmentalities are emerging in and across a range of sites (e.g. markets, forests, finance, energy and transport systems etc).

The Lund workshop will provide an opportunity to examine what the different conceptual perspectives, particularly those derived from governmentality studies, can bring to our understanding of climate governance. Hence, rather than seeking to understand the growing role of private actors within the global climate polity in terms of a transfer of power from the state, we suggest that it is critical to examine how and why the ‘private’ realms of civil society and business are being constituted as both an object and subject for the governing of climate change. Exploring the emerging landscape of climate governance, we find that similar sorts of rationalities and techniques are currently being deployed across diverse spheres of authority in the global climate polity. For example, carbon accounting is now commonly used as a means of constituting flows of carbon as objects to be governed, while climate risks and impacts also provide the basis for new rationalities and techniques through which ‘emergency programmes’ of government can be constituted. Emergent forms of techno-governmentality seem to be increasingly established and legitimised throughout the global climate polity, which raise the question about the possibility, and place, for democratic politics in a warming world. Finally, and resonating with advanced liberal government, multiple authorities and agencies are undertaking strategies of activation and responsibilization in order to enable individuals (as free and autonomous citizens and consumers) to govern their own emissions in a variety of locales.

The full outline can be found in the workshop flyer.

Workshop organizers:

Johannes Stripple, Lund University, johannes.stripple[at]

Harriet Bulkeley, Durham University, h.a.bulkeley[at]




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