This project is informed by the fact that climate constitutes a problem that is not just scientifically and politically constructed as planetary but also capable of crystalizing a whole series of issues that cut across the boundaries of science, the environment, economics and politics. What is at stake through these negotiations largely exceeds the climate question per se. To refer to the climate question is to talk of global governance in the making, development, energy futures, the relationship between science and technology and contrasting visions of the environment. In other words, the climate has a totemic function. It embodies a series of intersecting and interlocking social, political and environmental issues. Indeed, the climate question has taken on a global character by combining itself to other problems (in particular, development and energy) that emerge through the negotiations (Dahan et al., 2009) and spreading to a variety of social spaces to include a variety of actors (centripetal force of the climate issue). Correspondingly, a whole series of actors have taken on the climate question by framing their respective concerns in ‘climatic terms’ (centrifugal force of the climate issue).
The analysis of this dual dialogical movement between the extension of the climate topic on the one hand (socialization of the climate question), and the realignment that it produces (‘climatisation’ of different social spaces) on the other is at the heart of our project.
Despite its spatial and temporal concentration, the COP21, like other transnational “mega-events” is difficult to study in its entirety, in view of its density (tens of thousands of actors scattered on different sites, hundreds of events) and blurred boundaries (event spillover in time and space through its preparation and/or media coverage). Our suggested and original methodological approach seeks to overcome these challenges. Through a collaborative research and participant observation, we intend to analyse our object of study by mapping out the different social spaces of the COP21. This will be done by a team of researchers who can boast a recognised expertise when it comes to monitoring big international events and analysing international issues and negotiations. The teams from the Centre A. Koyré and the LATTS/LISIS have over ten years experience of following the climate COP. They have written and published various papers on the topic. They have also developed a unique analytical framework of climate governance through their concept of schism of reality (schisme de la réalité) (Aykut and Dahan, 2014), which forms a line of research of our project. Headed by Jean Foyer from the ISCC, the Ecoverio team has worked on the Rio+20 conference in 2012, and the green growth paradigm (which is re-appearing through the climate negotiations).