Governing the End:

The Making of

Climate Change

Loss and Damage

BY UCL Department of Political Science
08 / 06 / 2023
Video credit: UCL Department of Political Science

Lisa Vanhala's Inaugural Lecture. Recorded 8 June 2023.

Climate change is increasingly accepted as a global emergency creating irrevocable losses for the planet. Different countries experience these losses differently, and reaching even inadequate political agreements is fraught with contestation. The construction of new international legal norms to manage and respond to loss is shaped by this contestation.

Governing the End untangles the complex relationship between deteriorating environmental conditions, high politics and the everyday practices of diplomacy in the United Nations climate change regime.

This lecture presents some of the findings of a six-year project based on ethnographic observation of UN meetings and negotiations, as well as more than 150 interviews with diplomats, policy-makers, UN secretariat staff, experts and activists. It will explore both explicit political contestation as well as the more clandestine politics that have brought about the legal outcomes and emergent governance practices known as “climate change loss and damage.” It elucidates the successes and failures of international climate law and explain where and how power, ideas and materials intermingle and come to matter.

With an introduction by Professor Chris Hilson (University of Reading) and appreciation by Professor Steven Vaughan (UCL Laws).