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Delaying decarbonization: Climate governmentalities and sociotechnical strategies from Copenhagen to Paris

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Low,  Sean
IASS Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies Potsdam;

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Boettcher,  Miranda
IASS Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies Potsdam;

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Citation

Low, S., Boettcher, M. (2020): Delaying decarbonization: Climate governmentalities and sociotechnical strategies from Copenhagen to Paris. - Earth system governance, 100073.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esg.2020.100073


Cite as: https://publications.iass-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_6000495
Abstract
An era (2005–2015) centered around the Copenhagen Accord saw the rise of several immature sociotechnical strategies currently at play: carbon capture and storage, REDD+, next-generation biofuels, shale gas, short-lived climate pollutants, carbon dioxide removal, and solar radiation management. Through a framework grounded in governmentality studies, we point out common trends in how this seemingly disparate range of strategies is emerging, evolving, and taking effect. We find that recent sociotechnical strategies reflect and reinforce governance rationalities emerging during the Copenhagen era: regime polycentrism, relative gains sought in negotiations, ‘co-benefits’ sought with other governance regimes, ‘time-buying’ or ‘bridging’ rationalities, and appeals to vulnerable demographics. However, these sociotechnical systems remain conditioned by the resilient market governmentality of the Kyoto Protocol era. Indeed, the carbon economy exercises a systemic structuring condition: While emerging climate strategies ostensibly present new tracks for signalling ambition and action, they functionally permit the delaying of comprehensive decarbonization.