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Promises of climate engineering after neoliberalism

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The apparent, if uncertain, rejection of neoliberalism manifested by the election of Donald Trump in the US (alongside the slim, but clear majority for Brexit in the UK, and a growing racist and protectionist nationalism across Europe) necessitates renewed analysis of the future of both promises of technical fixes to climate change, such as carbon capture and storage (CCS), carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and solar radiation management (SRM) (in this chapter collectively referred to as climate engineering), and the potential future hegemonic political regimes that may replace neoliberalism. Drawing on a cultural political economy analysis of the co-evolution of political regimes and promises of technical fixes to climate change (Markusson et al. 2017), we here discuss what the current moment of radical destabilisation might augur. The election of Trump indicates a potential unsettling of an established dynamic whereby promises of technical fixes to climate change co-evolved with, and imperfectly supported, the neoliberal power regime and its preferred market-based solutions to the climate change problem. We identify two key and interacting dialectics, between neoliberalism and illiberalism, and between continued neoliberal (but illiberally challenged) US hegemony and budding China-centred liberalism 2.0. Both these dialectics appear conducive to prolonged attention to the promise of climate engineering, as talk and research, or even as limited deployment.