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 49: Knowledge pluralism

Mike Hulme


This chapter reflects on the aspiration for climate governance from the perspective of knowledge and its relationship with different understandings of agency and democracy. It first offers a short historical perspective on the changing relationship between knowledge and culture in the context of enduring human attempts to bring order to the disorderliness of climate. It next considers the implications for climate governance of the dominant contemporary understanding of climate, namely as a physically interconnected global system. This form of knowledge elevates atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and global surface air temperature as primary objects of political control and claims to render climate governable. The chapter then reflects on forms of democracy that are either assumed or erased through these dominant processes of knowledge-making, arguing that institutionalized programs of global change research pay insufficient attention to the difficulties of resolving enduring differences in citizen beliefs and values. Finally, the chapter considers alternative frames of thought and action that do not place knowledge, least of all integrated knowledge, as the driver of climate governance and that suggest that global climate might not be a governable object.

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