Climate Change, Capitalism, Geoengineering

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 14:15-15:45
Location: Hörsaal II (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
RC02 Economy and Society (host committee)

Language: English

It is now widely admitted that the global elite has failed to mitigate GHG emissions after nearly 25 years of international negotiations. In the last few years, a growing number of voices have started to advocate, albeit very reluctantly, that climate geoengineering needs to be seriously considered to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of global warming. Interest in the topic has grown rapidly, as numerous research initiatives have formed and mechanisms for a legitimate governance of geoengineering research and implementation are being actively sought. However, the critical voice of sociology and political economy is still marginal in this crucial discussion, and the context of capitalism’s reliance on fossil fuels to support unfettered capital accumulation is all but absent from debates.

This session addresses many of the questions that are left out of the discussion, such as: What is the relationship between capitalism and climate geoengineering? Is geoengineering a necessary consequence of capitalism or can it be avoided in an ecologically modernized regime of ‘green’ capitalism? Where does geoengineering fit in capital accumulation circuits? Can it potentially function as a new source of corporate profit, or is it simply a desperate attempt at safeguarding the conditions of accumulation? Within a capitalist framework, what kind of governance arrangements would ensure that geoengineering truly serves to ‘buy more time’ to reduce emissions, and is not used as a spatio-temporal technological fix to allow GHG emissions to keep growing unabated?

Session Organizer:
Jean Philippe SAPINSKI, University of Victoria, Canada
William CARROLL, University of Victoria, Canada
Going Rogue: Russ George and the Problem of Governance in Geoengineering
Andrew SZASZ, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA
Promises of Technical Fixes: Geoengineering Justifications of Defensive Spatio-Temporal Fixes
Nils MARKUSSON, Lancaster University, United Kingdom; Mads DAHL-GJEFSEN, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA; Jennie STEPHENS, University of Vermont, USA; David TYFIELD, Lancaster University, United Kingdom
Climate Politics, Capitalism, and the Governance of Solar Radiation Management
Jean Philippe SAPINSKI, Department of Sociology, University of Oregon, USA
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