Knowledge and Governance in the Climate Regime

The project Stefan Schäfer presented examines how dominant attempts to represent and govern the complex phenomenon of a changing climate are rooted in, and themselves in turn shape, ideas about “singular” things: The single planet Earth, the single CO2 molecule, and the single global market. In his talk, he traced how these ideas produce specific sameness and difference judgments and how the primacy of these judgments is problematic and contested in global governance—from the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992 via its extension in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the “failure” at Copenhagen in 2009, and the most recent adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015. Schäfer paid particular attention to the role of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in this history. The talk concluded with a reflection on the promises of the Paris Agreement, tendencies to decentralize authority in contemporary politics, and the advancing emergence of geoengineering onto mainstream scientific and political agendas.