Week 6: Climate

Sunset over airport

Pete Newell (University of Sussex) came to talk to us about building low carbon futures.

Climate change is rising up the media agenda, and new expressions of activism, including Extinction Rebellion and the global school strikes, are joining other efforts for change – from the sometimes tortuous negotiations in the United Nations to direct action against oil pipelines or power stations.

The need for change and the scale of the problem seems at odds with the difficulties of getting global agreements or coordinated action.

Different people put their faith in technology, markets, states or citizens to provoke meaningful change. But not all solutions are equally possible, desirable or just. But urgency can be paralysing too – calls for urgent action, however well-meaning, can close down spaces for deliberation and allow powerful actors, ‘quick fixes’ and tech solutions to push their agendas.

Given the scale of the challenge, radical and joined-up change can seem impossible. But rapid, surprising changes have been known before, and they are happening all the time around the world.

What can we learn from these examples about the problems and possibilities of taking action? How can responding to climate change link to wider concerns for social justice and sustainability? Could promising movements in different places add up or link together in some new ways – and how could art and culture help to make these connections, and create spaces to explore new ideas for change?

Reading suggestions

The Politics of Green Transformations – chapter 1 (PDF)

Video: Debate – The Politics of Green Transformations book launch (with Pete Newell, Michael Jacobs, Mariana Mazzucato, Camilla Toulmin and Andrew Simms

Zero Carbon Britain (Centre for Alternative Technology)

Rapid Transition

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