Just Power Europe or Overpowering the South? Exploring the EU’s Relations with Developing Countries in the Climate Field


The existing governmentality literature on the EU’s (climate) policy vis-à-vis developing countries rarely discusses the associated power effects from a justice perspective. In this paper, I approach this gap by extending a governmentality perspective with the GLOBUS’ tripartite conception of global political justice consisting of non-domination, impartiality and mutual recognition. I argue that even though a normative or justice argumentation in itself cannot escape relations of power, it nevertheless can aid a systematic discussion of the drawbacks and advantages of diverging policies and their powerful effects. Empirically, the paper analyses key EU climate policies targeting developing countries from a governmentality perspective with the aim to uncover less noticeable power effects. It finds that EU climate-development policy predominantly visualises climate change as a global risk that can be controlled though risk management and market instruments. It also furthers a dichotomous set of identities that constitutes developing countries as passive and vulnerable, whereas it paints the EU as the benevolent saviour. From a global justice perspective, on the one hand, the EU legitimises Northern interventions on the basis of internationally agreed upon norms, which can be linked to impartiality. On the other hand, the strategies on the ground, such as resilience building and low carbon development, point to mutual recognition and non-domination. Ultimately, while avoiding straightforward neo-colonial tendencies and indeed delivering much needed support, the EU’s climate-development policy is only a limited form of damage control that does not decisively tackle the unfair domination of the Global South.

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Tags: Climate change
Published May 8, 2020 5:03 PM - Last modified May 8, 2020 5:05 PM