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Accomplishing Climate Governance: new politics, new geographies?

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As the promise of mega multilateralism, by which the international community could design and implement universal agreements to address global affairs, appears to run its course, a growing body of research and policy work has sought to understand the multiple means through which climate change is governed. For the most part, such analyses have been concerned with issues of design – of how and by whom different kinds of arrangements and regimes might be established, the principles that they should follow, and their potential effectiveness. Other research has sought to examine the nature and politics of the forms of climate governance emerging amongst and in-between existing arrangements – what Hoffmann (2011) terms ‘climate governance experiments’. Here too a focus has been on the institutions, interests and actors involved, and the extent to which such initiatives could be at least, if not more, effective than national policies or international agreements. Relatively less attention has been paid to the how governing climate change is accomplished – the means, techniques and practices through which it is conducted. In this paper, I draw on recent research in the UK that has sought to examine the ways in which governing climate change is being accomplished in a range of arenas that cut across traditional divides between the state, private sector and community. The paper examines two sets of issues. First, how authority, or authorisation, is achieved in the absence of what is deemed to be the traditional power of the state or the democratic conferral of legitimacy. Second, the ways in which techniques of calculation, commensuration and community are deployed (and contested) in order to govern. It draws on examples from Tesco, HSBC , and Hexham Hydro to examine these issues and their implications for how we might engage with the new politics and geographies of responding to climate change.

This talk is part of the Department of Geography - main Departmental seminar series series.

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