Supposedly, digitalisation offers new capacities and directions for environmental politics and governance. This chapter critically introduces the discursive trajectories of three ‘developments’, sustainable development, digitalisation and capitalist acceleration. Analytically, I approach these trajectories with the sociology of promises, environmental sociology and science and technology studies. To illustrate how subjects and environments are differently (con)figured at the intersection of these trajectories, I attend to two contexts and ask for each how subjects and environments are (con)figured. The contexts are global discourses and local dispositifs of smart cities and of carbon accounting/datafication. The chapter concludes in terms of digitalisation as promissory infrastructural relations that cut across these contexts. This raises avenues for critical environmental politics studies that are sensitive to discourses and dispositifs of greening in relation to recent innovations in analytics that recognise both epistemic/epistemological and ontic/ontological politics. With such attention, interesting problematisations and questions about transformative and conservative potentials emerge.
Lippert, Ingmar, ‘Digitalisation as promissory infrastructure for sustainability’, chap. 42 in Elgar Handbook of Critical Environmental Politics, ed. Pellizzoni, Luigi, Emanuele Leonardi and Viviana Asara (Edward Elgar, 2022)