Collection: Climate change, energy and sustainability
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Climate change, energy and sustainability
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This chapter introduces the author and the main premise of this book. Based on qualitative interviews with sustainability-oriented but “on-the-grid” parents of young children in Portland, Oregon, in the Northwestern United States, The Production of Everyday Life in Eco-Conscious Households describes what happens when people make interventions in mundane and easy-to-overlook aspects of everyday life to bring the way they get things done into alignment with their values. Household production and social practices related to three aspects of everyday life are examined: household waste, cleanliness, and indoor comfort in hot and cold weather. Because the ability to make changes is constrained by the culture and capitalist society, there are negative consequences and trade-offs involved in these household-level sustainability practices. Ecologically conscious households devote substantial time (even more so than money) to these sustainability efforts, but their efforts frequently stimulate conflicts, and the end results are rarely perfect. Beyond depleting people physically, financially, and emotionally, many of these pro-environmental activities are ineffective at best and are self-contradictory at worse—these paradoxical pro-environmental activities inadvertently reproduce capitalist society, and in doing so enable the continued environmental devastation that motivates these practices in the first place. Thus, promoting many household-level sustainability practices may be misguided, as this transfer of institutional responsibility for environmental protection into households results in even greater burdens on households, whose time, money, and emotional capacities are already stretched to their limits. The households described in this book shed light on the full extent of the trade-offs involved in promoting sustainability at the household level as a solution to environmental problems.
The chapter points out that the current paradigm of environmentalists ignores the negative impact that human population size has on the biosphere. To counter this lack of concern with population size and growth, the chapter uses graphs to show that the ecological footprint of the global human population has appreciably expanded since the 1960s; that the numerical increase of the global population remains substantial even though the rate of population growth and the total fertility rate have fallen; and that large numbers of human beings are projected to be added each decade to the global population until at least the year 2050.
There is an urgency to face the precipice of ecological devastation, take a leap into the fractures of a broken Earth, and experiment with more sustainable and just ways of living. And yet, in spite of incessant calls to attend to multiple fronts of emergency, major obstacles remain. One of them, as many analyses of the hope-shattering failures of COP26 and previous climate agreements have shown, is the recognition of the inescapable entanglement of ecological care with care for people. No justice, no ecological peace. Attempting a modest contribution to efforts addressing this situation, Ecological Reparation engages with social-environmental degradation by attempting to rethink concepts and practices that may be needed to repair and to remediate both damaged ecologies and persistent inequities in ways that support resurgence against more than human injustice. This book takes up this task from a diversity of theoretical and political fronts, unpacking some of the workings at stake in the conceptual coupling of the ecological with reparation.
The city of Bristol, UK, set out to pursue a just transition to climate change in 2020. This paper explores what happened next. We set out to study how just transition is unfolding politically on the ground, focusing on procedural justice. Over the course of a year, we conducted interviews and observations to study decision making at three levels – public sector, private sector and civil society. We found that not only is it difficult to define what just transition means, even for experts, but that the process of deciding how to pursue such a transition is highly exclusionary, especially to women and ethnic minorities. We therefore argue there is an urgency to revise decision-making procedures and ensure that there is ample opportunity to feed into decision-making processes by those who are typically excluded. Inclusive decision making must be embedded into the process of just transition from the beginning and throughout its implementation – it is not a step that can be ‘ticked off’ and then abandoned, but rather an ongoing process that must be consistently returned to. Finally, we conclude that cities have the unique opportunity to pilot bottom-up participatory approaches and to feed into the process of how a just transition might be pursued at the global level – for example, through their participation in the United Nations Framework for the Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) processes.
The 2021 UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) awakened the world to the critical need for food systems transformation. Several commitments were made during the summit, with the UN Secretary-General reiterating the need to support national mechanisms that develop and implement national pathways to 2030 that are inclusive and consistent with countries’ climate commitments, building upon the national food systems dialogues. Much of the discussion in the post-summit era has mostly been high level and focused on how countries can be supported to transform pathways into strategies and to design and operationalise investment plans aimed at fostering sustainable and inclusive food systems transformation. However, what has been missing in these discussions is what the envisaged transformation means for the smallholder farmer, and what it takes for smallholder farmers to embrace the transformative agenda and transition to more sustainable methods of production. In this article, reference is made to two of the Five Action Tracks, namely Action Track 3 (boost nature-based solutions) and Action Track 5 (build resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks and stresses), whose central themes are anchored around resilience and sustainability. The paper discusses the underpinnings of nature-positive production systems and explores how these systems interface with smallholder farmers’ circumstances and production goals, and how this might affect implementation of the envisaged practices at the farm level. The central argument in this article is that discussions around food systems transformation must include the smallholder farmers, their lived experiences, socio-economic circumstances, aspirations and production goals.
Political associations and public discourse on policy issues are essential components of any democratic system. Yet, their characteristics, particularly those concerning change or stability over time, remain largely understudied, especially outside western jurisdictions. By applying the advocacy coalition framework (ACF) to the context of Ghana’s oil and gas governance, this article seeks to reduce these limitations by analysing coalition stability at the micro- and meso-levels as well as examining the stability of policy frames as expressions of policy beliefs. Applying analysis of variance and network analysis, these objectives are pursued using news media data collected between 2007 and 2019. The results show coalition stability at the meso-level but instability at the micro-level. In addition, some policy frames appear more stable while others seem less stable. This article contributes to existing knowledge by proposing two levels of coalition stability analysis, augmenting the number of ACF applications beyond western jurisdictions, facilitating comparative analysis, and producing more generalisable knowledge.
With the increasing pressure on the climate from human activities, it is urgent to envision and facilitate radically different ways of life that allow for significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions. This only happens if policy and action initiatives go beyond discursive practices that treat climate change mitigation as a matter of technological fixes, and individual behavioural change. Decades of research on the sociology of consumption show that lifestyle changes are as much about changes to norms and ideas about what ‘a good life’ is as they are about access to the necessary competences, infrastructures and sustainable alternatives. Acknowledging the growing body of sociological research that seeks to understand how expectations of the future shape processes of social change in the present, more attention could be paid to the role of discourse, narratives and storying when it comes to making efforts towards carbon neutral climate futures. Taking as a point of departure a futuring methodology called the Future Travel Workshop, this article discusses the potential role of stories through Moezzi et al’s () notion of stories as inquiry and stories as process for futurity. Comprised of three sessions, the workshop explores what future everyday lives and societies might look and feel like. Each session is framed by a set of narratives on climate related problems of the present, and how these problems affect the way we think about futures. Interestingly, the participants’ imagined futures went from technologically utopic and tension-free towards tense and radically different conceptions of the needed levels of societal reorganisation.
In times of repeated crises, social work is more than ever linked with politics. In contemporary societies, neoliberal welfare, health policies (such as the case of COVID-19), climate change, poverty and wars have a direct impact on people and nature, as well as social services, professionals and users. Particularly in regard to climate change, we need to accentuate its implication for people’s lives, animals and nature, as well as its connection with social work. In this direction, this article presents the findings of research that took place in 2019 in Greece regarding social work practice in disasters and suggests the reclaiming of community work by a radical perspective and in coalition with environmental justice movements.
In early 2022, over 30 years after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its first report on the challenges posed by climate change and four subsequent Assessment Reports later, the word ‘colonialism’ finally entered its official lexicon. The sixth report on ‘Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability’ references colonialism, not only as a historical driver of the climate crisis, but also as something that continues to exacerbate the vulnerabilities of communities to it (). As argues, this comes in the wake of long-standing arguments made by Indigenous groups and others on the frontline of climate change about the centrality of colonialism to comprehending and responding to the crisis. The last decade has also seen a significant increase in scholarly literature that draws explicit links between colonialism and climate change – much of which is referenced in the latest IPCC report. While formal acknowledgement of this relationship is long overdue, in this article we argue for caution and precision in the invocation of colonialism within these debates. Following classic article setting out why ‘decolonization is not a metaphor’, we argue relatedly that colonialism needs to be understood as more than a metaphor in climate change debates.