Analyses of climate engineering (CE) governance have accelerated in the last decade, with a central claim being that CE remains a largely ungoverned space, i.e. that shared norms, institutional arrangements, and formal rules to regulate CE do not yet exist. In contrast, we argue that de facto governance of CE is underway, through a shaping of the CE governance landscape by sources of epistemic steering that are not acknowledged or recognized as (seeking to) govern. In making this claim, we analyse discernible steering effects from interventions by high-level authoritative assessments of CE. We argue that authoritative interventions in moments of epistemic contestation have contributed to shaping (and ordering) the CE landscape by normalising, technicalising and institutionalising the field of inquiry, therefore shaping the nature and direction of the governance conversation. We conclude that scrutinising the (distinct) nature and political implications of de facto governance, particularly of novel and speculative technological trajectories not yet subject to formal steering, is a key task for governance scholars.
Ina Möller is a PhD candidate at Lund University, Department of Political Science. Her work revolves around the governance of climate change, where she focuses on the institutionalisation of ideas and the role of non-state actors in shaping global governance. Her research project aims to explain the expansion of the debate on climate engineering, looking at the connectedness of scientific communities to the political realm and the role of various non-state actors in shaping the way we talk and think about climate engineering.