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Climate Anarchy: Creative Disorder in World Politics

International Political Sociology

Published online on


“Climate anarchy” describes the divergence of climate politics from established mechanisms of global governance and an emergent political order. This new (dis)order represents alternative governances and politics, and a challenge to national governmental perspectives on world politics. When interstate policymaking, such as that on climate change, falters at the point of agreement—as it has from Copenhagen in 2009 to Rio+20, and on to Warsaw in 2013—different global relationships are engendered. This occurs as the narrowly defined anarchy of national jurisdictions is superseded by a wider anarchic diversity in political practices. If states must respond to climate change, they are not leading climate policy effectively, and state‐centric perspectives cannot account for such political disorder. The ensuing discomfort about the fragmentation of climate governance should be embraced as an opportunity for political innovation, and the diverse responses to climate change viewed as an emerging paradigmatic shift in world politics. The argument thus informs broader debates on policy and governance, as well as conceptual and disciplinary developments, by testing the construction, governance, and anarchy of climate issues.