The rise and fall of the global climate polity

Corry, Olaf (2013). The rise and fall of the global climate polity. In: Strippel, Johannes and Bulkeley, Harriet eds. Governing the Climate: New Approaches to Rationality, Power and Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 219–234.


Whereas most of the chapters go ‘down’ to the micro-practices of climate governance, this chapter aims to take a step ‘up’ to elucidate a clearer picture or model of what a global climate polity is in terms of its totality: how are the elements of a global polity structured and what makes a polity a polity? In this chapter, first the question of whether analysis of localized governmental techniques needs an accompanying consideration of a bigger picture or context is considered. Next the global climate polity is theorised beyond the models of hierarchy and anarchy using a generic theory of what constitutes a polity via an elaboration of Foucault’s ideas about how changing objects of governance become central to political entities. The third part looks back briefly asking when a global climate polity thus conceived could be said to have evolved. The final section peers forwards to consider differing visions of the demise of the global climate polity as we know it: will it be superseded by a more encompassing ‘Earth System polity’ centered on governing not only the climate but also other interrelated geophysical systems? Or could it splinter as it is recognized that the climate is too complex and feral to be a governable object?

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