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‘Incantatory’ governance: global climate politics’ performative turn and its wider significance for global politics

Authors
  • Aykut, Stefan C.1
  • Morena, Edouard2
  • Foyer, Jean3
  • 1 Universität Hamburg,
  • 2 University of London Institute in Paris (ULIP),
  • 3 IHEAL/CREDA, Campus Condorcet, Batiment de recherché sud, 5 cours des humanités, 93233 Aubervilliers, France
Type
Published Article
Journal
International Politics
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan UK
Publication Date
May 27, 2020
Pages
1–22
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1057/s41311-020-00250-8
PMCID: PMC7253149
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

The 2015 Paris agreement represents a deep-rooted change in global climate governance. While existing scholarly assessments highlight central institutional features of the Paris shift, they tend to overlook its symbolic and discursive dimensions. Our analysis shows that the Paris architecture combines two core elements: an iterative pledge and review process to stimulate global climate action, and a ‘performative’ narrative aimed at aligning actors’ expectations on the prospect of a low-carbon future. We therefore suggest calling it an incantatory system of governance. We then examine the origins of the new approach and find that the rise of ‘soft law’ approaches and communicative techniques in global climate governance are both indicative of a broader process: the entry of management culture in international organisations. Against this backdrop, we examine the prospects, limitations and caveats of the new approach and discuss its wider implications for global politics.

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