Towards a cultural political economy of mitigation deterrence by negative emissions technologies (NETs)

Markusson, Nils Olof and McLaren, Duncan Peter and Tyfield, David Peter (2018) Towards a cultural political economy of mitigation deterrence by negative emissions technologies (NETs). Global Sustainability, 1.

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This paper offers a new theoretical perspective on the risk that geoengineering interventions might deter or delay mitigation (previously typically described as moral hazard). Drawing on a brief review of mitigation deterrence (MD) in solar geoengineering, it suggests a novel analytical viewpoint going beyond and contrasting with the methodological individualist, managerialist and economist analyses common in the literature. Three distinct registers to assist identification and interpretation of situations and processes through which MD might arise are elaborated and compared. The paper shows that moving from a realist register via a cultural register to a cultural political economy register, makes it clearer how and why misperceived substitutability (between negative emissions technologies (NETs) and mitigation) and narrow climate policy goals matter for MD. We have also identified several plausible mechanisms for MD under a neoliberal political regime. The paper argues that MD cannot be overcome simply by better informing decision makers (the ‘realist’ response), or even by opening up the standard techno-economic framing of climate change and our responses (the ‘cultural’ response). The paper also concludes that the entire political regime that has evolved alongside specific economic interests is implicated in MD, and that the likelihood and significance of MD probably remain underappreciated and understudied.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Global Sustainability
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29 Oct 2018 09:00
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2022 06:37