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Climate Change and the Politics of Geoengineering, by Olaf Corry

What are the political implications of plans to directly manipulating the climate ?

The fifth IPCC report concluded last September that global warming is “unequivocal” and that the 30 years until 2012 were probably the warmest in 1,400 years, driven by “unprecedented” levels of greenhouse gases. The fragile compromise reached at the UN Warsaw Climate Change Conference held this November illustrated once again that climate change remains a contentious and maybe intractable issue.

Meanwhile, plans to directly manipulate global temperatures or extract CO2 from the atmosphere – geoengineering - are entering current debates on climate change, generating new types of controversies over policy options in the management of global warming.

In this podcast, Olaf Corry presents his ongoing research on the politics of Geoengineering. He talks about how geoengineering seems to have entered the political arena, marking a new phase of climate politics where how humanity should governing the climate system may become the key question, rather than whether humans are responsible for changing it. He underlines that to contemplate a ‘geoenginnering option’ has very strong political and policy implications.

Olaf Corry is Lecturer in International Relations at The Open University (UK) and a member of CCIG. His research is dedicated to developing tools to study post-international politics and understanding intersection between security, risk and environmental politics. Olaf currently focuses in particular on the global politics of proposals to geo-engineer the climate.

He recently published Constructing a Global Polity: Theory, Discourse and Governance with Palgrave (2013). In this book, Olaf argues that our current understanding of globalization makes it impossible to grasp some crucial changes in world politics. Olaf's ongoing research builds further on the framework, addressing the emergence of the climate as a global governance-object. Just a few years ago, the climate was not something anybody thought about governing: as a governance-object ‘the climate’ did not exist. Now, as methods of monitoring, modeling and manipulating have developed, and the argument in favour of trying to govern it has been mounted, the climate has become a governance-object with implications for key actors as well as the structure of world politics itself. His work on geoengineering suggest a new stage in debate about climate change and the emergence of a global polity.

Related links

Olaf talks about his book, Constructing a Global Polity (November 2013)

Olaf's Blog post on the Doha Climate Summit (December 2012)


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