Our Common Future Under Climate Change

International Scientific Conference 7-10 JULY 2015 Paris, France

  • Home
  • Zoom Interactive Programme
Cliquer pour fermer

Wednesday 8 July - 16:30-18:00 UNESCO Fontenoy - ROOM VIII

2241 - New representations and new frames for the climate change debate

Parallel Session

Lead Convener(s): S. Jasanoff (Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge, United States of America), S. Treyer (NSS - Nature Sciences Sociétés - Editorial Board, Paris, France)

Convener(s): C. Aubertin (NSS - Nature Sciences Sociétés - Editorial Board, PARIS cedex 05, France), C. Millier (NSS - Nature Sciences Sociétés - Editorial Board, Paris, France), F. Gemenne (Politics of the Earth - Sorbonne Paris Cité, Paris, France)


Climate and the Future of Inequality

S. Jasanoff (Havard Kennedy School, Cambridge, Mass., United States of America)

Abstract details
Climate and the Future of Inequality

S. Jasanoff (1)
(1) Harvard Kennedy School, Pforzheimer professor of science and technology studies, Cambridge, United States of America

Abstract content

Climate change has been presented as the great equalizer, one of those productions of the modern risk society that places all of humanity at the same disadvantage with respect to a calamitous future. Social studies of risk, however, paint a very different picture, showing that the adverse consequences of risk fall disproportionately on the most vulnerable segments of global society. How might the future of climate policy look if climate change were reframed in terms of the inequality of its shorter-term impacts rather than the potentially longer-term equalization of a world at risk? The talk focuses on the disciplinary and institutional means through which imaginaries of climate equality and inequality are created and propagated, including law, economics, and climate science itself.


Panel discussion:

Abstract details
Panel discussion:
Abstract content

A new framing and a new governmentality order for the climate problem

A. Dahan (EHESS / CNRS, Paris, France)

Abstract details
A new framing and a new governmentality order for the climate problem

A. Dahan (1)
(1) EHESS / CNRS, Centre alexandre koyré, Paris, France

Abstract content

For the last 25 years, anthropogenic climate change has been framed as a global environmental pollution problem, which must be solved by reducing human greenhouse gases emissions through a global agreement negotiated under the auspices of the UN. The role played by sciences in the construction of the problem is essential, and is well summarized by the claim "science speaks truth to power," with science and politics assumed to be hermetically separated. Although in reality this "linear model" is largely inadequate to account for the much more complex links between climate science and politics, notably within the IPCC, it has long been hegemonic, leading to debates focused on science rather than political responses.

This dominant framing has been undermined by the failure of major assumptions underlying international negotiations: it is now clear 1) that climate change is a geopolitical, economic, and development problem as much as an environmental one, 2) that we cannot solve it in isolation from all the regimes (energy, development, trade..) which perform the economic and financial globalization, and 3) that  the needed industrial and social transformations have to be named and largely debated.

As the Paris CoP approaches, this paper critically examines the mistakes and the illusions of this framing, suggesting a new order of governmentality.


Climate Change, Adaptation, and Community Discourse: Framing for Vulnerability and Transformation

D. Schlosberg (University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia)

Abstract details
Climate Change, Adaptation, and Community Discourse: Framing for Vulnerability and Transformation

D. Schlosberg (1)
(1) University of Sydney, Sydney Environment Institute, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Abstract content

The impacts of climate change are already having an affect on communities. From increased storm frequency and flooding, to heat waves and fire danger, to food insecurity and migration, climate change is no longer a future concern, but a present experience. The politics of climate change, therefore, have moved beyond a sole focus on global or state action on the mitigation of emissions, to local and regional adaptation policy.


One of the central frames for adaptation is risk and disaster management; in Australia, nearly every local government council has a Climate Change Adaptation Plan clearly framed by risk. This paper examines the very different framing for adaptation policy articulated by community groups that are primarily concerned with the vulnerability of basic capabilities and broader social and economic transformation. I assess two sources of this community discourse and framing. First, a content analysis of the websites, Facebook and Twitter feeds of environmental and community advocacy groups in Australia is examined to assess the main topical concerns expressed. Second, a deliberative democratic community adaptation policy consultation processes was run in Sydney. Using Q methodology and discourse mapping, the preferences of individual participants are mapped with regard to adaptation policy priorities both before and after the deliberative events. The consensus statement and policy recommendations put together by citizens as part of the deliberative process are also explored for indications of a framing quite different from a simple risk management approach


There are two key findings to report. First, community groups express a particular concern for vulnerability of basic capabilities in climate-challenged communities; these concerns are also clearly reflected in the community consultations. This contrasts with the language and policy framing of local governments on risk management and emergency response. Second, the deliberative process helps to increase the collective attention to both vulnerable capabilities and communities and the importance of transformation of local policy and process, and brings consensus around such framings. Ultimately, it may be that the disconnect between government and citizen framing is due, in part, to a lack of community engagement and participation in the development of adaptation plans, which has led to the exclusion of the diversity and widely varying concerns of community groups in the development of local adaptation policies. 


Carbon sink geopolitics: Using Science and Technology Studies to explore the futures of collective climate action

V. Ehrenstein (Goldsmiths College - University of London, London, United Kingdom)

Abstract details
Carbon sink geopolitics: Using Science and Technology Studies to explore the futures of collective climate action

V. Ehrenstein (1)
(1) Goldsmiths- University of London, Department of sociology, London, United Kingdom

Abstract content

In the mid 2000s, as part of the international effort to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, the negotiation process on climate change started to look at how to reduce carbon releases caused by tropical deforestation – an item and forthcoming regulation referred to as REDD+. By drawing on Science and Technology Studies and a multi-sited fieldwork, which investigated the archives of climate negotiations and followed between 2009 and 2012 the problem of CO2 emissions assignable to tropical forest loss (from DRC's Ministry of environment, to the 17th session of the Conference of the Parties in Durban and Europe-based offices of carbon experts), this presentation suggests using the case of REDD+ to explore the notion of carbon sink geopolitics as a potential learning opportunity for future climate actions.

The transformation of tropical forests into a carbon sink that should be taken care of occurred through diverse public aid interventions deployed in low-income regions (e.g. the Congo Basin), relentless scrutiny exercised by non governmental organisations on behalf of intact forests or the rights of indigenous people, research and commercial activities dedicated to measurement and quantification aspects, and lively debates within intergovernmental negotiations about the rules of a possible market-inspired mechanism. Such effort dedicated to preserve carbon sinks - or at least to make sure that the consequences of their exploitation (e.g. through logging or agriculture) do not go unnoticed - is still inscribed in the interstate and quasi-legal United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Yet, the geopolitics that the REDD+ process might be a precursor of and that this presentation proposes to sketch is an assemblage of, among other things, monitoring instruments like earth observation satellites, financial redistribution vehicles like multilateral funds, and institutionally mobile actors like expatriate consultants and environmental activists. I argue that, while this geopolitics relies on the geographical and political order established by the United Nations, it develops in the interstices of such division, in inter-national spaces, where it creates a collective concern, the carbon stored by tropical forests, and its socio-technical community.


Politics of the Earth: Three Scientific Challenges in the Anthropocene

F. Gemenne (Sciences Po, Paris, France), B. Latour (Sciences Po, Paris, France)

Abstract details
Politics of the Earth: Three Scientific Challenges in the Anthropocene

F. Gemenne (1) ; B. Latour (2)
(1) Sciences Po, Politics of the earth, Paris, France; (2) Sciences Po, Medialab, Paris, France

Abstract content

It has been argued that the Earth had entered the Anthropocene since the industrial

revolution. The Anthropocene is best described as a geological epoch where humans

have become the driving forces of changes on the planet. The epoch is characterised

by a radical transformation of the relationship between humans and the Earth, of

which climate change is one of the most evident transformations. It signals a new

phase in the relations between a planet regulated by he laws of physics and biology,

and human societies regulated by the laws of economics and politics. This

transformation needs us to reconceive the scales and dynamics of collective action,

to think together the World and the Earth.


“Politics of the Earth” is a new interdisciplinary programme that seeks to achieve this

objective. Its scientific perimeter is organised around two central dimensions, which

depend on each other: a dimension of representation, and a dimension of government.

These two dimensions encompass thematic and methodological stakes, which can only

be addressed through a common work between natural and social sciences. In order

to think these multiple scales and dynamics, the Anthropocene imposes new

representations, which are being made possible through the production of new data.

Many of these data and databases, however, remain impossible to combine together,

which prevents researchers from thinking the transformations of the Earth-Workd

nexus in its multiple dimensions, and which also prevents an effective government of

these new stakes.


The programme “Politics of the Earth” gathers research labs from different disciplines

in different universities, around three challenges that crystallise the Anthropocene:

- Geopolitics of carbon dioxides;

- Expertise of risks and mediatisation of disasters;

- Dynamics of critical zones and urbanisation conflicts.

This session aims to present the preliminary results of the programme, which was

launched in January 2015, and to show how these interdisciplinary perspectives can

help represent climate change in the framework of the Anthropocene.



Realising consilience. How better communication between archaeologists, historians and geoscientists can transform the study of past climate change in the Mediterranean

A. Izdebski (Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland), K. Holmgren (Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden), E. Weiberg (Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden), S. R. Stocker (American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Athens, Greece), U. Büntgen (Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Birmensdorf, Sweden), A. Florenzano (Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy), A. Gogou (Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Anavyssos, Greece), S. A. Leroy (Brunel University London, Uxbridge, United Kingdom), J. Luterbacher (Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Giessen, Germany), B. Martrat (IDAEA-CSIC, Barcelona, Spain), A. Masi (Università di Roma La Sapienza, Rome, Italy), A. M. Mercuri (Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy), P. Montagna (Istituto di Scienze Marine (ISMAR), Bologna, Italy), L. Sadori (Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy), A. Schneider (UC-San Diego, San Diego, United States of America), M.-A. Sicre (CNRS, Paris, France), M. Triantaphyllou (University of Athens, Athens, Greece), E. Xoplaki (Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Giessen, Germany)

Abstract details
Realising consilience. How better communication between archaeologists, historians and geoscientists can transform the study of past climate change in the Mediterranean

E. Xoplaki (1) ; A. Izdebski (2) ; K. Holmgren (3) ; E. Weiberg (4) ; SR. Stocker (5) ; J. Luterbacher (1) ; U. Büntgen (6) ; A. Florenzano (7) ; A. Gogou (8) ; SA. Leroy (9) ; B. Martrat (10) ; A. Masi (11) ; AM. Mercuri (7) ; P. Montagna (12) ; L. Sadori (7) ; A. Schneider (13) ; MA. Sicre (14) ; M. Triantaphyllou (15)
(1) Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Geography: Climatology, Climate Dynamics and Climate Change, Giessen, Germany; (2) Jagiellonian University, Institute of history: byzantine history department, Krakow, Poland; (3) Stockholm University, Department of physical geography and quaternary geology, Stockholm, Sweden; (4) Uppsala University, Archaeology and ancient history, Uppsala, Sweden; (5) American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Athens, Greece; (6) Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Dendroecology group, Birmensdorf, Sweden; (7) Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Laboratorio di palinologia e paleobotanica, Modena, Italy; (8) Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Institute of Oceanography, Anavyssos, Greece; (9) Brunel University London, Institute for the environment, Uxbridge, United Kingdom; (10) IDAEA-CSIC, Barcelona, Spain; (11) Università di Roma La Sapienza, Laboratorio di palinologia e paleobotanica, Rome, Italy; (12) Istituto di Scienze Marine (ISMAR), Bologna, Italy; (13) UC-San Diego, Department of anthropology, San Diego, United States of America; (14) CNRS, LOCEAN, Paris, France; (15) University of Athens, Faculty of geology and geoenvironment, Athens, Greece

Abstract content

This paper reviews the methodological and practical issues that have bearing on the ways in which geoscientists, historians and archaeologists collaborate in the study of the societal impacts of climatic changes in the Mediterranean basin. We begin with discussing the methodologies of the three disciplines in the context of the consilience debate, i.e. the attempts at unifying different academic disciplines, in particular from among the sciences and the humanities, that work on finding answers to similar questions. We demonstrate that there exists a number of significant similarities in the fundamental methodology between history, archaeology, and environmental sciences, due to their common interest in studying the past societal and environmental phenomena; this has to do, for instance, with the use of narrative structures as the means of communicating research results, which is common to the three of them. Consequently, we also present and compare the different narratives of the societal impact of climatic change that are characteristic for each discipline, which it is necessary to comprehend in order to engage in fruitful interdisciplinary exchange. Finally, in the second part of the paper, we focus our discussion on the four major practical issues that hinder communication between the three disciplines. These include terminological misunderstandings, problems relevant to project design, divergences between the publication cultures, and differing views on research impact. Among other recommendations we make, we suggest that scholars from the three disciplines should aim at creating a shared, hybrid publication culture, which should also appeal to a wider public, both within and outside of academia. Finally, we present possible actions on the part of both scientists and humanities scholars (archaeologists and historians) that - if taken - will  solve several of the challenges discussed in paper.