Colombia announced today it will already implement forest positive policies by next year, far outpacing the other commitments to halt deforestation by 2030 by other countries. 100 world leaders, representing 85% of the worlds forested land, committed to halting and reversing deforestation by 2030. Read more on twitter by following the #GlasgowLeadersForestDeclaration conversation.
This announcement comes the day after David Attenborough gave an impassioned plea for the world leaders to redirect policy into forestry conservation rather than exploiting this important natural resource.
How does this change the nature of the debate in Swedish forestry management and their aim to use forest as an energy transition fuel? Watch this space.
-Jag känner att det här var en ganska bra dag, en minst sagt hygglig start. Det behövdes!
Orden kommer från Mikael Karlsson, docent i miljövetenskap på Uppsala universitet, som är på plats i Glasgow. När han intervjuas av SvD via en skakig telefonlina har det gått en dryg halvtimme sedan det Mikael Karlsson ser som dagens höjdpunkt.
Mikael Karlsson is pleased with India’s announcement to be Net Zero by 2070. This is a significant goal and can inspire other world leaders to act more ambitiously, he says. Compared to other countries this may seem distant in the future, but India is a developing country and relative to developed countries India can be seen as particularly ambitious.
During our event today the image of Swedish and Nordic Climate Leadership shimmered in the face of scientific/ political/ and activist critique. What is the Nordic reputation? Is there truth behind this image? Watch a recording of the event below and share your thoughts @CCLUPPSALA.
What makes good Climate Leadership?
According to Emma Weisner, Centerpartiet Swedish MEP, it is “Unity, Ambition and Results“. Yet are we fulfilling this idea of Nordic Climate Leadership? As Mikael Karlsson indicates, to what extent can we unify when not all Nordics are in the EU? Can we consider ourselves leaders if, as in Sweden, we only account for a third of our emissions? (according to climate activist Anton Foley) Consumption a key issue for Denmark according to Nadia, a Danish Youth Delegate. Yet all this talk of urgency and action without thinking is very problematic for Bernt Nordman, WWF Finland, who argues for investment in to better understanding of the whole picture.
Key concerns – what is sustainable use of forests in transitioning away from fossil fuels? For how long can we ignore the subsidies to fossil fuels? Denmark really needs to look at their pork consumption. And what is this talk about fossil free steel?
The Nordic countries have long been climate policy pioneers. But what are the associated drivers, barriers and results, and how can the remaining gaps within targets be bridged? This workshop explores how lessons learned can be of value outside the Nordic Countries, and what can be learnt from efforts elsewhere.
What roles do large organisations play in climate action collaborations? What futures become possible? What does it mean for realising Sweden’s climate goals?
Fossilfree Sweden had their Fossil Free Competitive conference earlier this week where they celebrated the follow up on their 22 roadmaps. The conclusion was made that industries had ramped up their efforts for emissions reduction, but that these still did not meet the required pace for transitioning in line with Sweden’s goal to be Net Zero by 2045 (read more here).
You can watch the conference in full here:
Incumbency Leadership: A challenge for transforming the future?
The roadmaps have been discussed in terms of futures orientations before and it was concluded in a recent study that the “Techno-Optimist” and “Ecological Mordernisation” perceptions of the future were far more popular for political parties and industry leaders alike (read more here). More radical imaginaries, such as “Systems Change” and “Technological Disruption” were far less common. Their findings further indicate how more ambitious goals for climate action are stilted by a difficulty envisioning a future beyond fossil-dependence, let alone radically transformed futures beyond capitalism.
The idea of incumbent agenda-setting climate action, particularly under such a term as “Fossil Free Competitiveness”, demands looking at what futures are being produced through these mechanisms. Is this simply a competition between industries to become climate change leaders and realise Sweden’s Net Zero Future by 2045? Or is there something more to be inferred by roadmaps towards realising desirable incumbent futures?
Fossil Free Roadmaps: calculating wider impacts, benefits and costs?
Beyond the futures narratives and the socio-political implications of these roadmaps, these roadmaps should also be discussed in terms of wider societal costs and impacts. What will jobs look like in the future? Is there a Swedish workforce with the skills and competences needed for these transitioned industries? What infrastructure development is required and at what pace? How might the Swedish public respond to these changes – is this viable?
Isabel Baudish, Coordinator of Zennström Professorship in Climate Change Leadership, is a member of the newly launched independent podcast Signal Switch. Ahead of COP26 they have released a 2-part special that takes a deep dive exploration of the COP history and process, particularly in relationship to Climate Justice. The episode explores why COPs, as challenging, overwhelming and problematic as they are, they still remain the key way to respond to climate change.
Follow Isabel Baudish at COP26 in Glasgow along with the rest of Climate Change Leadership on twitter or our blog as we report back live!
The academics from Climate Change Leadership at Uppsala University will host a workshop at the Nordic Pavillion about ways to engage with – or disengage from – climate denial debates. Science denial is a serious bottleneck for climate policymaking. The aim of this workshop is to more fully describe climate denial and develop counteractive strategies with researchers, policymakers and other stakeholders.
Image mapping how science denial plays a role in science and policy delay in Karlsson’s 2020 paper. Read more here
A transdisciplinary workshop at COP26
We are delighted to have the opportunity to work through the questions of denial together with colleagues from across the Nordics to understand how the tricky information landscape can be worked with in order to transcend denial and misinformation during public discussion and debate. It a growing concern here within Uppsala University that there is a challenge engaging the public online and in person with questions about climate change. We see this very often, for example, in comments below our social media posts about climate science. This is not an isolated concern, however, with many actors involved in the conversation around the world about the role of social media in the age of information and misinformation saturation. We will host this workshop at the global meeting for climate negotiations in order to explore new ways of working through this challenge.
What can we scientists do?
One of the goals in post-graduate education is to equip young academics with the skills to contribute their scientific output in societal development and debate. But how to do so in a world of polarising information and misinformation? Our workshop will pilot a method for developing counteractive strategies with colleagues from across the Nordics and provide them the opportunity to pose their questions, to share their practises and to deepen their understandings of the ways in which denial can limit public debate. Together with policymakers and other stakeholders we anticipate a discussion that will develop concrete proposals for action and deepened understandings of the experiences of denial across the public sector. We will asses this method with feedback from participants at COP26 and then follow this up with a workshop at Uppsala University.
Science communication and climate change misinformation is an area of key concern for us at Climate Change Leadership. We welcome your reflections and thoughts, so please do not hesitate to connect with us about our future work in this area and questions for this workshop in particular! You can tweet @CCLUPPSALA or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Daniel Lindvall, researcher at Climate Change Leadership, is today publishing the Discussion paper Democracy and the Challenges of Climate Change, for International IDEA. You can read the full paper here.
The paper discussed correlation between climate change and democratic development. Certain climate consequences, as for example scarcity of food or rising food prices, are known to lead to social unrest and political instability and may lead to democratic breakdown, particularly in fragile democracies with weak state institutions. Other climate related emergency situations may have positive effects for democracy, bringing people together and providing opportunities for regime change, but they could also be used as an excuse for autocratic or hybrid regimes to curtail democratic freedoms.
The paper also present research on the weaknesses and strengths of democracy in dealing with the climate crisis. It argues that democratic states are generally performing better on environment protection policies and climate action than autocratic states. However, factors such as the level of corruption and the size of the fossil fuel industry are affecting the climate performance negatively.
Generally speaking, the outcome of the climate crisis will depend on whether democracies can drastically reduce their carbon footprints in the coming years. Climate change poses a challenging test for democracies’ ability to cooperate and confront highly complex global challenges. In conclusion, democracies need to formulate adequate and ambitious policy responses to climate change for democracy to remain a legitimate and credible political system for young people and future generations.
The report will be discussed at a webinar on 26 October, at which Dr Kevin Casas-Zamora, Secretary-General, International IDEA, Jan Wahlberg, the Finnish Climate Change Ambassador, Dr Julia Leininger, German Development Institute, & Member of International IDEA’s Board of Advisers, and Ms Elizabeth Wathuti, Founder of Green Generation Initiative and sustainability analyst at Sustainable Square, Kenya, will participate. Register for the webinar here
Mikael Karlsson, Isabel Baudish, Jens Ergon and Daniel Lindvall are gearing up for an intense few weeks at COP26 in Glasgow in November. They are joined by members of the Uppsala University delegation, listed below, to follow the negotiations and push for more focus on the issues of science-based climate governance, societal transformation and overcoming climate denial.
While at COP26 in Glasgow we will be reporting back regularly on the key activities from that day. You can follow us here on the blog or directly connect to us on twitter @CCLUPPSALA
What is COP26?
COP26 is held in Glasgow November 2021. COP stands for Conference of the Parties through which governments negotiate the ways they want to collectively tackle climate change. You can read more about the COPs and the agenda for Glasgow on the official website or check out this visual explainer.
Climate Change Leadership have three main tasks at Glasgow. Firstly, we will be presenting our recent research activities to drive forward the conversations about just climate governance and societal transformations. Secondly, we will be working with journalists and decision makers to ensure that science-based decision making processes are reflected upon in the public sphere. Thirdly, we will be coordinating a number of events with our Nordic colleagues at the Nordic Pavilion. You can read more about these events here.
Uppsala University’s COP26 Delegation
The researchers from Climate Change Leadership will be joined by other Uppsala University delegates.
Sanna Gunnarsson, alumni of CEMUS, writes a brilliant analysis of carbon budgets and climate governance in her Masters thesis for KTH. Through her study of two local carbon budgets she explores the potential of this as a tool for sustainability transition through the lenses of three narratives: Tweak the system, Re-invent the system, and Shake the system. Read more in her thesis here:
On the 9th of August, the UN Climate Panel released the first part of its new climate report. The report is a comprehensive compilation of the current scientific state of knowledge regarding climate change, including climate models and scenarios.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the report should be considered a red flag for humanity. The risk is clear: within ten years we will pass the Paris Agreement’s goal of a 1.5 degree temperature rise. As before, it is stated that carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels is the main cause and that sea levels are rising. More clearly than ever, the IPCC points out that the increase in extreme weather events such as heat waves and droughts is primarily due to humanity’s impact on the climate.
Mikael Karlsson, associate professor of environmental science and senior lecturer in climate change leadership comments on the report.
Does the report contain anything surprising?
– We have been sure since at least the 1990s that humans affect the climate and that it has serious consequences so the main features are well known. Since then research has become considerably clearer on what is happening, where it is happening and how fast it is happening. What is perhaps most surprising is how clear the climate panel is now about the increase in extreme weather. It moves what many thought were future consequences to the here and now, says Mikael Karlsson, associate professor of environmental science at Uppsala University.
Which areas of the world are most vulnerable?
– Probably the biggest problem with climate change is that it is getting drier in the world where drought is already a big problem and where many people live in deep poverty. This will be developed in the second part of the report in February next year. But today’s report shows extensive climate impact in our part of the world as well. In the far north of the globe the warming will be greater than average and we will see more extreme weather in the future. This may be in the form of fires and floods that can cause great damage, says Mikael Karlsson, associate professor of environmental science at Uppsala University.
Is it too late to reverse the trend?
– Absolutely not. Admittedly some trends, such as sea level rise, will continue for centuries, but the pace can be slowed down considerably and many other catastrophic scenarios can be avoided altogether. It is still quite possible to meet the goal of limiting the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees. The third part of the report, which will be published in March next year, shows how this can be done. But we already know today that many solutions are available and our research shows that even in the short term it can be profitable to change direction, says Mikael Karlsson, associate professor of environmental science at Uppsala University.
What happens now? How should society act, how do we get there and how can I as an individual act?
– The solution catalog is thick and more and more politicians, business leaders and individuals are taking responsibility and trying to reduce emissions. By all accounts, that work will accelerate in the near future. Within the EU a number of measures were proposed this summer and later this autumn there will be a global climate summit in Glasgow. Climate work is also intensifying in Sweden, although much remains to be done. As an individual you can do a lot – eat a little more green, cycle and walk a little more often, opting first for a train and bus are simple measures. The best part is that many measures also give us better health and finances, says Mikael Karlsson, associate professor of environmental science at Uppsala University.
Last week Stefania Barca, Zennström Professor in Climate Change Leadership at Uppsala University gave a talk at Uppsala Klimatveckan 2021, which set the stage for the next 15 months of her professorship. The topic was on the Anthropocene and drawing out the masters narrative of such a concept. From this starting point, the arguments to decolonise climate change leadership compel us to reflect upon the assumptions and narratives that frame our ways of understanding and engaging with the world. You can watch the full talk below.
This talk invited members of the public to work through this challenge with us: how can we consider the ways in which we approach the decolonising challenge? What are the core assumptions we carry with us in our methods of engagement? How to we recognise these and counter (or work through) them?
We will shortly release a statement that responds more fully to the questions we were given by Uppsalabo, along with further resources we find helpful. Please check back here shortly.
If you are interested in getting involved with this process, please do reach out to us. We are eager to learn from your ideas!
To read more about Stefania Barca’s approach to Climate Change Leadership we encourage you to read her statement on Just Transition.
This International Women’s Day we remembered Berta Cáceres, Indigenous leader and environmental defender from the Lenca people of Honduras. Berta’s murder on March 2nd 2016 was directly associated with her campaign in the defence of the Gualcarque river, the site of a proposed dam in Lenca territory.
In her first public event as Zennström Professor Stefania held a conversation with Berta’s daughter, Bertha Zuñiga, in order to understand how her work lives on and the continued struggle for justice in the region. We were very grateful to Bertha for taking the time to speak to us so openly.
Many thanks also go to Grettel Navas, Azucena Moran and Katia Lara for their support with this event.
Watch the video from the webinar. The video is a mixture of Spanish and English.
You can also read the English and Spanish transcripts here. Thank you to María Florencia Langa for transcription and translation.
This tragedy of Berta’s murder is not in isolation. In 2019 alone, it is estimated that over 200 environmental defenders were killed as a consequence of their commitment to protect the environment and indigenous lands. Indigenous leaders and Indigenous women leaders in particular have been at the forefront of this struggle. How can we make sense of the violence against these earth defenders in a time when their work is all the more relevant to climate and ecological politics? What can we learn, from their stories, about the post-carbon transition?