The techno-politics of negative emissions
David Tyfield (Lancaster University)
Nils Markusson (Lancaster University)
Paper short abstract:
Using negative emissions technologies as a case study, this presentation examines the ways in which the material forms and discursive promises of technologies reframe politics, reshape political interests, and in turn are reconstituted in new forms - or techno-political systems.
Paper long abstract:
Using negative emissions technologies as a working case study, this presentation examines the ways in which the material forms and discursive promises of technologies reframe politics, reshape political interests, and in turn are reconstituted in new forms, thus understanding technologies as techno-political systems. We are especially interested in the risk of NETs deterring mitigation, and thus mechanisms whereby the prospect of a technology may reduce or delay other actions aiming at providing similar benefits. Having identified technical failure, cognitive biases and bounded economic rationalities as possible contributing mechanisms to mitigation deterrence, we explore conceptually how those mechanisms can be better understood through the lens of cultural political economy as a product of the iteration of technological fixes and political regimes. We draw on expert interviews, and on a literature review of potential analogues for NETs in which technological advances or policy interventions have generated (or seem likely to generate) the kind of perverse outcomes discussed above. The analogues include waste incineration, and solar radiation management. We explore the possible evolutions of a selection of NETs (including BECCS, Direct Air Capture and Soil Carbon Enhancement), given the conceptual examination of deterrence mechanisms, and in the light of the ways in which the category of NETs as such is constituted as a novel actor and a promise in climate politics
The politics of negative emissions