Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future

Geoff Mann, Professor in Geography and Joel Wainwright discuss the likely political and economic outcomes of exceeding the two-degree global warming threshold in a new book. A work of foundational importance, critics are calling it a map for climate politics in future stormy decades. The authors note that the majority of historical greenhouse gases have been emitted as by-products of the choices and activities of a wealthy minority. Why that wealthy minority did nothing, and what that means for our political futures, are crucial questions they address. Though societies are contending with climate change now, its most significant ecological and political consequences are still to come. The challenge of analysing and anticipating those consequences is enormous. The authors describe the project as emerging as “an attempt at self-critique and clarification from within the climate justice movement. …[They] draw upon a robust tradition of political philosophy and critique of capitalist political economy to explain why capitalist societies created our planetary emergency and have failed to mitigate climate change. It is not, however just another Marxist critique of capitalism’s ecological consequences.” Rather, the authors explore the political effects of these consequences arguing that under pressure from climate change, the intensification of existing challenges to the global order will push existing forms of sovereignty toward one they call “planetary.”