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Reforming global climate governance in an age of bullshit

Stevenson Hayley. 2021. Reforming global climate governance in an age of bullshit. Vol 18, Issue 1, Globalizations.

Abstract

There is a significant deficit of ‘ecological integrity’ in contemporary climate change governance, defined as explicit recognition of the mismatch between rhetoric, intentions and actions. This deficit is not unique to climate governance: we live in an age of bullshit (indifference to the truth). Philosopher Harry Frankfurt (On bullshit, 2005, Princeton University Press) identifies this as ‘one of the most salient features of our culture’. In this article, I argue that the concept captures the inconsistencies we observe in global climate governance. I begin by conceptualizing it and identifying the various forms it can take. I then provide an overview of the past three decades of global climate governance, before analysing illustrative examples of bullshit. I conclude by proposing reforms to the climate regime’s accountability arrangements to enhance the integrity and limit the harmful effects of bullshit in global climate governance.

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