Skip to main content

COP21 daily report: The politics and culture of climate change

Cabot Institute Director Professor Rich Pancost will be attending COP21 in Paris as part of the Bristol city-wide team, including the Mayor of Bristol, representatives from Bristol City Council and the Bristol Green Capital Partnership. He and others Cabot Institute members will be writing blogs during COP21, reflecting on what is happening in Paris, especially in the Paris and Bristol co-hosted Cities and Regions Pavilion, and also on the conclusion to Bristol’s year as the European Green Capital.  Follow #UoBGreen and #COP21 for live updates from the University of Bristol.  All blogs in the series are linked to at the bottom of this blog.
-----------------------------
The main road in Tuvalu in September 2015, photographed by Viliami Fifita a PhD student in Policy Studies, University of Bristol.  His travel was funded by an ESRC Impact Acceleration Award to assist the Tuvalu government measure poverty and living standards in the context of climatic change and rising sea levels.

The Climate Change (COP21) conference in Paris is one of the most important gatherings of politicians, civil servants, academic experts, journalists, business and civil society representatives of the 21st Century – over 50,000 people are expected to attend.   The need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions is clear as in 2015 global temperatures may rise to an average of 1oC above the pre-industrial level and atmospheric Carbon Dioxide (CO2) levels rose above 400 ppm for the first time in the past 800,000 years.  Some climate model results show that if greenhouse gas emission were stabilised, which would require a 60% reduction in global emissions immediately, then the World’s climate would still warm up to 1.6oC above the average pre-industrial level.

The natural sciences have made huge efforts to investigate the problem of climate change; unfortunately, the social sciences have not been so active.  This lamentable situation needs to change, so under the auspices of the IASQ (International Association on Social Quality) over 200 social scientists from around the world have signed the Sustainability Manifesto which argues that;
one-dimensional solutions cannot address multidimensional problems like those we currently face..... environmental change is still viewed primarily in physical science terms, whereby the (interrelationships of) socio-environmental, socio-economic, socio-political and socio-cultural dimensions of sustainability receive insufficient attention”.
Interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary research is needed particularly to fill the current knowledge gaps about socio-political and socio-cultural aspects of sustainability.  A lot is now known about the environmental and economic aspects of climate change but this has not been sufficient to persuade many politicians or some sections of the public that major actions are required which may affect their lifestyles.  Research is needed into how best to overcome these socio-cultural and socio-political barriers to sustainability.

The Sustainability Manifesto has received the unanimous backing of the executive committee of the International Social Science Council (the World’s governing body for the social sciences under the auspices of UNESCO) and the ISSC president, Alberto Martinelli, has called on all “scientists and colleagues all around the world to support the Initiative”.  I have helped to draft the Sustainability Manifesto and have signed it on behalf of the University of Bristol.  


-----------------------------------
This blog is written by Cabot Institute member Professor David Gordon.  Prof Gordon studied environmental and climatic change for his PhD research and has worked at Bristol for 25 years in the School for Policy Studies.  He is the Director of the Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research and was the editor of the European Journal of Social Quality for two years.
Prof David Gordon

This blog is part of a COP21 daily report series. View other blogs in the series below:

Monday 30 November: COP21 daily report


Popular posts from this blog

Are you a journalist looking for climate experts? We've got you covered

We've got lots of media trained climate change experts. If you need an expert for an interview, here is a list of Caboteers you can approach. All media enquiries should be made via  Victoria Tagg , our dedicated Media and PR Manager at the University of Bristol. Email victoria.tagg@bristol.ac.uk or call +44 (0)117 428 2489. Climate change / climate emergency / climate science / climate-induced disasters Dr Eunice Lo - expert in changes in extreme weather events such as heatwaves and cold spells , and how these changes translate to negative health outcomes including illnesses and deaths. Follow on Twitter @EuniceLoClimate . Professor Daniela Schmidt - expert in the causes and effects of climate change on marine systems . Dani is also a Lead Author on the IPCC reports. Dani will be at COP26. Dr Katerina Michalides - expert in drylands, drought and desertification and helping East African rural communities to adapt to droughts and future climate change. Follow on Twitter @_k

Urban gardens are crucial food sources for pollinators - here’s what to plant for every season

A bumblebee visits a blooming honeysuckle plant. Sidorova Mariya | Shutterstock Pollinators are struggling to survive in the countryside, where flower-rich meadows, hedges and fields have been replaced by green monocultures , the result of modern industrialised farming. Yet an unlikely refuge could come in the form of city gardens. Research has shown how the havens that urban gardeners create provide plentiful nectar , the energy-rich sugar solution that pollinators harvest from flowers to keep themselves flying. In a city, flying insects like bees, butterflies and hoverflies, can flit from one garden to the next and by doing so ensure they find food whenever they need it. These urban gardens produce some 85% of the nectar found in a city. Countryside nectar supplies, by contrast, have declined by one-third in Britain since the 1930s. Our new research has found that this urban food supply for pollinators is also more diverse and continuous

#CabotNext10 Spotlight on City Futures

In conversation with Dr Katharina Burger, theme lead at the Cabot Institute for the Environment. Dr Katharina Burger Why did you choose to become a theme leader at Cabot Institute ? I applied to become a Theme Leader at Cabot, a voluntary role, to bring together scientists from different faculties to help us jointly develop proposals to address some of the major challenges facing our urban environments. My educational background is in Civil Engineering at Bristol and I am now in the School of Management, I felt that this combination would allow me to build links and communicate across different ways of thinking about socio-technical challenges and systems. In your opinion, what is one of the biggest global challenges associated with your theme? (Feel free to name others if there is more than one) The biggest challenge is to evolve environmentally sustainable, resilient, socially inclusive, safe and violence-free and economically productive cities. The following areas are part of this c