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Keywords:

  • Climate change;
  • Giddens;
  • life politics;
  • environmentalism;
  • risk;
  • ontological insecurity

Abstract

Anthony Giddens' The Politics of Climate Change represents a significant shift in the way in which he addresses ecological politics. In this book, he rejects the relevance of environmentalism and demarcates climate-change policy from life politics. Giddens addresses climate change in the technocratic mode of simple rather than reflexive modernization. However, Giddens' earlier sociological theory provides the basis for a more reflexive understanding of climate change. Climate change instantiates how, in high modernity, the existential contradiction of the human relationship with nature returns in new form, expressed in life politics and entangled with the structural contradictions of the capitalist state. The interlinking of existential and structural contradiction is manifested in the tension between life politics and the capitalist nation-state. This tension is key for understanding the failures so far of policy responses to climate change.