In this chapter we examine a tendency within some aspects of climate governance research to prioritize universalistic theorizations of trends in climate governance and, correspondingly, to underemphasize how more localized and often adversarial political processes crucially shape the dynamics and outcomes produced by different forms of climate governance in different contexts. We begin by making the case that elements of climate governance research are developing an apolitical character, then discuss some drivers of this trend, including: pressures on academics to avoid contentious political debates in order to maintain dialogue with decision-makers; intellectual pragmatism fostering an inclination to explore reformist rather than radical transformations in climate governance; and academic conventions concerning the relative value of theoretically and empirically oriented research. We conclude by exploring some methodological approaches that might enable and encourage climate governance research to chart a productive course between theoretical advancement and more active engagement with the day-to-day political realities faced by public and private actors involved in governing aspects of climate change.
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