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Governing climate investments: the importance of problem constitutions

Open Panel

Abstract

The global climate governance architecture has become fragmented in recent years, as political processes beyond the UNFCCC gain increasing importance, often including new forms of public-private partnerships. One recent development that seems to fit quite well into this picture, and that gains little attention thus far in the social science literature, is the debate on investment grade policies that are meant to help scale-up financial flows to renewable energies. Developing and implementing these policies requires new forms of public-private cooperation, including governments, investors, project developers and civil societies from both developed and developing countries. However, taking a closer look at this debate shows that the issue is framed exclusively from the perspective of investors, what results in a strong emphasis on providing incentives, and leaves alternative approaches unconsidered. This points to a general shortcoming in much of the governance literature: Focusing on the form of governance processes, it usually leaves unconsidered how a problem is constituted and framed, and which alternatives framings are neglected in this process. After reviewing the climate governance literature and describing the climate investment debate, this paper therefore analyses the emerging investment-oriented policies as a regime of practices. Deploying this approach, as suggested by Foucault and further developed by Dean, allows making the context of emergence of these practices and the logics that inform them a part of the analysis. This will reveal that the current climate investment debate rashly equates the need for financing renewable energies with the need for stimulating new investments, instead of addressing and shifting existing financial flows.