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Climate Change as a Security Issue

International Comparisons

Johannes Stripple

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Johannes Stripple

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Eva Lövbrand and Johannes Stripple

This chapter explores what kinds of critical policy studies may transpire from Michel Foucault’s nominalist engagement with traditional political concepts such as power, government and the state. We argue that Foucault’s work paves the way for a decentred form of policy analysis that asks how we govern and are governed in micro-settings including at the level of the individual subject. The focus on the ‘how of governing’ stems from a rejection of any a priori understanding of the distribution of power or location of government, and arises instead from an interest in, and awareness of, the historically situated practices, rationalities and identities by which governing operates. Viewed in this manner, Foucault-inspired policy studies neither offer us a substantive theory about the forces that shape public policy, nor does it tell us what constitutes public policy (e.g. actors, interests, structures). The role of the analyst is instead to critically interrogate how these political spaces come about, how power operates through them, and, ultimately, how they could be different.

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Johannes Stripple and Harriet Bulkeley

When approached from the horizon of Foucauldian analytics of government, climate governance can be examined as practical activity, historicized and specified at the level of the rationalities, programmes, techniques and subjectivities which underpin it and give it form and effect. This chapter identifies three main interrelated ‘studies of climate governmentalities’ that have begun to contribute to the ways in which climate governance can be understood. These focus on: (1) the climate imagined as a historical and political object that is possible to govern; (2) advanced liberal climate government; (3) subjectivity and the personal conduct of carbon. Studies in climate governmentality becomes an inquiry not only about the design of policy, regulations and codes of conduct, but offers a close engagement with how these are taken up, worked through and reconfigured in the day-to-day practice and culture of everyday life.

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Harriet Bulkeley, Mark Cooper and Johannes Stripple

The attention to new kinds of actors, including sub-national governments, private sector organizations, and transnational associations, has broadened the idea of what constitutes climate governance in international relations, and thus what kinds of studies it is legitimate to pursue. Students of GEP should resist the tendency to approach climate governance as a general, abstract, and undifferentiated entity, and instead explore the specific instances, places, processes, and materials through which climate governance is encountered. The chapter recommends approaches that (1) rely on productive and relational accounts of power, (2) pay attention to the socio-material dimensions of carbon and climate, and (3) are attuned to the cultural politics of climate change. Encountering climate’s new governance implies getting close to how climate issues are woven into the socio-material and cultural fabric of our lives. Such a research agenda has the potential to cast a new light on what is considered global, environmental, and political.