Research Handbook on Climate Governance
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Research Handbook on Climate Governance

Edited by Karin Bäckstrand and Eva Lövbrand

The 2009 United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen is often represented as a watershed in global climate politics, when the diplomatic efforts to negotiate a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol failed and was replaced by a fragmented and decentralized climate governance order. In the post-Copenhagen landscape the top-down universal approach to climate governance has gradually given way to a more complex, hybrid and dispersed political landscape involving multiple actors, arenas and sites. The Handbook contains contributions from more than 50 internationally leading scholars and explores the latest trends and theoretical developments of the climate governance scholarship.
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Chapter 10: Geopolitics

David Ciplet, J. Timmons Roberts and Mizan Khan


As currently configured, the United Nations’ greenhouse gas mitigation framework will allow temperature rise above what scientists predict will trigger catastrophic environmental events around the world, which are expected to impact upon vulnerable and poor populations most. This inadequate framework emerged at the negotiations in Copenhagen in 2009, which laid the groundwork for future agreements in Durban in 2012 and Paris in 2015. How did we arrive at an entirely inequitable and scientifically inadequate climate regime, and what’s stopping us from changing course? We argue that the global political order has shifted in important ways since the signing of the Kyoto Protocol a dozen years prior. Building upon the scholarship of neo-Gramscian scholar Robert Cox we identify major relevant historical shifts in three main areas: global political economy, geopolitics and ecological conditions. The developments in each of these areas have structured the limits and possibilities for international action on climate change. Any efforts to constructively address the climate crisis will have to contend with the major tensions in each of these areas of world order.

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