The 2015 Paris Agreement is often depicted as a turning point for global climate governance. Following years of diplomatic gridlock, it laid the foundations for a new global climate regime that invites states to partner with nonstate actors in the transition to the low-carbon society. This article critically examines the political rationalities that inform the pluralization of climate politics after Paris and the turn toward cooperative modes of governing. Drawing on an analysis of initiatives led by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that were launched to engage nonstate actors in the evolving Paris regime, we identify a global governmentality that mobilizes nonstate actors as active and responsible partners in the quest for rapid and deep decarbonization. In its search for cooperative and efficient forms of problem management, we argue, this form of rule nurtures a global space free from friction and opposition where businesses, investors, and industry are elevated as the real partners of government.
We thank the anonymous reviewers for their valuable feedback on previous versions of this manuscript. This work was supported by the Swedish Research Council Formas through the project “Non-state Action for Climate Transformation (ACT Sweden)” (grant 2017-01889) and the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research–Mistra through the research program “Mistra Geopolitics.” We also thank the participants in the Writing Environmental Norms panel at the International Studies Association’s 2019 annual conference and the Environmental Politics working group at the Swedish Political Science Association’s 2019 annual conference.