The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change envisaged civil society as catalysing a mutually reinforcing dynamic between states and markets, directed towards limiting the increase in global average temperatures to two degrees Celsius. This paper investigates this decentred mode of governance by drawing on a Foucauldian understanding of civil society as a ‘transactional reality’ through which economic and juridical governance become entwined. This was studied at the intersection of climate change and finance, through a 25-month participant observation of a United Nations standard-setting project. The paper reveals how a range of discussions, conflicts and compromises at this intersection came to centre on the so-called ‘carbon – the maximum amount of cumulative GHG emissions that limits the probability of exceeding 2°C of warming to 20%. It charts how this budget became the basis for a regime of truth that set out a simultaneously economic and juridical discourse on the implications of a carbon-constrained future, and how a divestment movement, NGO campaigns, standard-setting projects and financial regulatory agendas became coordinated as they invoked this discourse. This paper seeks to extend existing accounting scholarship on civil society by arguing that a mutually reinforcing dynamic between states and markets, as envisaged in the Paris Agreement, may be studied through the quasi-regulatory pressure created through the emergent coordination of diverse regulatory strategies.
|Publication status||In preparation - 2018|